Partner story

Q&A with Four Freedom Fund's Rini Chakraborty

Over the years, our US grantees have had to be agile, courageous, intersectional, and collaborative to continually build new opportunities and futures for people fighting against oppressive and racist systems.  As we wind down our domestic work in the US by the end of 2023, we've asked our partners to share, in their own words, their plans for the future, learnings from the field, and how funders can support their continued progress fighting for social justice and equity.

By Rini Chakraborty, Senior Director at Four Freedoms Fund

1. What does Four Freedoms Fund do?

Four Freedoms Fund is a national funder collaborative that was launched by NEO Philanthropy in 2003. FFF strengthens the capacity of the immigrant justice movement in the US to ensure all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, have dignity, power to shape change, and agency to determine the quality of their life, community, and future. To achieve this goal, FFF believes we need a robust and powerful infrastructure of organizations leading the transformation of our country’s systems to be inclusive, fair and just, and grounded in racial, economic, and gender justice.

FFF partners with foundations and advocates to build the power of the immigrant justice movement. We prioritize investments in strengthening the state and local advocacy and organizing infrastructure of the immigrant justice movement, increasing immigrant civic participation, challenging US systems of immigration enforcement and criminalization, and democratizing the movement by supporting emerging, under-resourced immigrant communities.

The fight for our democracy is inextricably linked to the fight for immigrant justice.

2. What are the greatest lessons you've learned over the past two years?

First, it has become clear for us that the fight for our democracy is inextricably linked to the fight for immigrant justice. As extremist forces seek to undermine US democracy, immigrant communities and immigration policy continue to be predominant scapegoats in America’s culture wars. Restrictionist lawmakers are deploying immigration and the Southern border as strategic wedge issues to activate rising racist sentiments and ramp up support for anti-immigrant, anti-democratic policies. These same lawmakers are leading efforts to erode democracy and disempower the new American majority through restrictive voter laws and hateful, xenophobic propaganda, cementing a narrative in which immigrants and people of color do not belong. Through organizing and civic engagement, immigrant justice organizations are building the power of immigrant communities to fight back against these false narratives and fearmongering. Combatting attempts at disinformation and demobilization of our communities will be essential to protect multiracial democracy and advance a just and inclusive vision for America.

Second, FFF has gained a deeper understanding of our role in supporting groups and leaders focused on global displacement and the rights of people seeking asylum. As climate change and authoritarianism rise around the world, increasing numbers of people will be forced to leave their home countries. In the last year alone, we witnessed large influxes of migrants from Haiti, Afghanistan and now Ukraine as people flee political violence and war. The US response to these crises has varied widely, welcoming some migrants while violently excluding others. FFF is supporting organizations as they advocate for the restoration of asylum rights and push for a more humane asylum system that welcomes people seeking refuge in the US, regardless of what they look like or where they come from. Through the new Black Migrant Power Fund, a community-led fund housed at FFF, Black migrant organizations are raising urgent resources to specifically support Black migrant groups as they fight to dismantle racist immigration policies, including racism in the denial of asylum.

3. What opportunities do you see on the horizon and what are your plans for the future?

For FFF, the biggest opportunity we see is continuing our investments in the leadership of immigrant justice leaders as they build connections with other social justice movements, build power, and advance shared priorities. Immigrant justice leaders understand that the fight for immigrant justice is not restricted to immigration policy and are playing important leadership roles across the movements for climate, economic, gender, and racial justice. Through their leadership in these fights, immigrant justice leaders and organizations are infusing these movements with new vision and energy and strengthening intersectional struggles for equitable solutions. This growing and powerful leadership across issues reflects the incredible diversity, strategic sophistication, and imagination of the leaders and organizations building the immigrant justice movement.

As we look ahead this year, in addition to our ongoing support for organizations building the infrastructure of the movement, we are exploring ways to combat disinformation and deepening our focus on advocacy surrounding the border and asylum. In this midterm election year, we know that immigrants will be targets of both xenophobic attacks and disinformation campaigns that seek to sway their support in favor of lawmakers that do not actually care about immigrant communities. FFF will continue to invest in organizations meaningfully engaging with and building the political power of immigrant communities to advocate for truly inclusive solutions.

Photo credit: FFF grantee African Communities Together/photographer Adrian Childress

4. How can funders support you right now?

As immigrant justice leaders deepen relationships and engagement in the movements for racial justice, climate justice, and democracy, FFF is following their lead. Funders can support FFF’s and our grantees’ work by helping us to build connections with funders that are engaged in protecting democracy, combatting disinformation, and strengthening movements for climate justice. Immigration is the place where all of these issues converge and immigrant justice leaders are playing critical roles in all of these fights. Increased investment in the immigrant justice movement is essential to paving the way to a more inclusive democracy where everyone can thrive.

For more information about Four Freedoms Fund, please visit: 

Read more Q&As with leaders of our US portfolio who are working to move the country toward justice in small and big ways.