December 13, 2023
The Council on Foundations (The Council) and Independent Sector (IS) have filed a joint amicus brief in support of the Atlanta-based Fearless Foundation, an organization led by Black women that helps combat underfunding in venture capital by providing grants, tools, and mentorship to women of color.
The Council and IS filed the brief in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), which claims the Fearless Foundation’s grant program for Black female entrepreneurs is racially discriminatory.
The Council and IS brief calls on the court to dismiss the AAER lawsuit and rule in line with the First Amendment that philanthropies and individuals have a constitutional right to donate to charitable causes that align with their values, including efforts to support historically marginalized groups.
The Council and IS believe that any argument that it is discrimination to help Black women gain opportunity in a field where they are underrepresented ignores the history of our nation — as well as the present reality, which is that women entrepreneurs of color are experiencing a significant gap in venture capital funding.
The Council and IS also believe the AAER lawsuit threatens the right to expression that the First Amendment affords everyone who gives. If successful, this lawsuit would unconstitutionally limit the Fearless Foundation’s expression of its values and stifle philanthropy as a whole — discouraging donors, restricting work toward equity and justice, and harming communities and causes nationwide.
You Can Help — Sign the Statement
The Council on Foundations and Independent Sector encourage philanthropic groups and individuals to join them in speaking out about the importance of protecting First Amendment rights.
The Council and IS invite the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to sign this statement to show your support for the rights of philanthropic organizations, charitable nonprofits, and individual donors to give in ways that align with their values.