Jasmine Jones joins Abundance with deep and direct experience in disinvested communities struggling with the school-to-prison pipeline, particularly addressing the issue of school safety. She was also a founding member and the lead organizer at the Black Organizing Project based in Oakland, California.
Jasmine believes that through empathy, public policy, and deep financial investments sustained over time, we can create a world where everyone can thrive, especially Black and Brown people who have historically been disenfranchised.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- How the Abundance program began
- How Jasmine sees the Abundance Movement making an impact on Black-led nonprofits
- How Abundance is making an impact on the South Side of Chicago
- Why helping Black-led nonprofits is important
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:02] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Association Leadership Radio. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:19] Lee Kantor here another episode of Association Leadership Radio, and this is going to be a good one. Today on the show, we have Jasmine Jones and she is with abundance. Welcome.
Jasmine Jones: [00:00:31] Hello. Lee. Thank you for having me today.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:34] Well, I’m so excited to learn about abundance. Can you share a little bit about what you’re up to? How are you serving folks?
Jasmine Jones: [00:00:40] Yes, absolutely. So I will start off just sharing that. My name is Jasmine Jones and I am the first director of abundance. Abundance is a national movement to free mindsets, dollars, policies and practices to address anti-blackness and philanthropy. And I’m just really excited to share more about the work and how we’re operating.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:00] All right. So let’s dig in. How did the idea come about? What was the genesis?
Jasmine Jones: [00:01:05] Absolutely. And so in full transparency, I actually joined a month ago. I joined the team a month ago as the first director of abundance. And so the work started in 2020, a little bit before I came on. And it was really through a partnership between Liz Dozier, founder and CEO of Chicago, Beyond Sharing Bush, president of Grand Victoria Foundation, and John Palfrey, the President and the John and Catherine MacArthur Foundation. And really, it came to be because there are all the racial uprisings that were taking place in 2020 and the litany of statements and pledges from foundations. Liz and Sharon were super frustrated with the lack of action and really reflect it and ask themselves what more needs to be done beyond the statements. And more importantly, how can we really do this work? And a joyful way and in community with one another while making structural shifts. After they had many conversations and talk with other funders in the field, they really brought this conversation to John from the MacArthur Foundation, and the concept of abundance just resonated with all three of them, and they decided to bring the initiative to life. And that’s what brings me here.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:17] And that’s what brings you here. And then so for you to having that as kind of the catalyst, how do you see it playing out now that you’re there? Like what is your objective may be for the first 100 days and what’s your vision for the future?
Jasmine Jones: [00:02:31] Yeah, absolutely. And so really right now I’m just fostering relationships with the community, having lots of conversations with different funders that have already expressed interest, but even those who might be kind of on the fringes and want to know more about it. And so right now I’m having lots of conversations that will lead up to launching an abundance action community sometime next year. And really, the goal of abundance is not to do one time things or gimmicks, but to really create long term, sustained change and how philanthropy operates in support of black communities. And so we want to really move more dollars to black led organizations and ensure accountability leads enduring action, not just pledging. And so we want to make sure that by 2025, we actually see an increase from the folks that are coming together to say they want to have an abundance framework, to say they want to operate more abundantly. And so bringing this core group together to have a community to build with each other, to learn from each other about how they’re shifting their practices and their own institutions, to be more pro-black is the ultimate goal. And so by 2025, we should see a significant not just a little bit, not a here and there, but a significant increase to black led organizations across the country.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:50] So you’re saying that some of this has to do with actual scorekeeping and writing numbers down, right. So so in order to be held accountable for the progress, when you say significant, like, how are you defining? Significant.
Jasmine Jones: [00:04:07] Significant is something that we’re defining collectively. And so we recognize that foundations are coming in at different various places and their institutions. Some foundations are super far along and have been doing, you know, racial justice grantmaking for a very long time and might be wanting to just learn better or understand how they can shift their practices internally to live it more internally. They might be doing all the work externally, but might need some more support to shift the practices internally and others may not have even touched the surface, right? May not have even even tried to explore the data around how they’re giving and who they’re giving to. And so since folks are coming from different places, we really want to allow each individual foundation to define what does that significant reach look like for them? But we do want them to stretch. So it has to be a stretch goal. We’ve we’ve played around with the idea of 25% increase to black led organizations and some foundations have that that has settled with them and others are. I don’t know if that can be. And so we recognize everyone is coming from different places and we will collectively define what that means for each individual.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:23] So you’re going to create kind of a specific goal for each and then you’re going to hold them accountable.
Jasmine Jones: [00:05:30] Exactly. Well, and not just me. So let me like it will be a community and so it will be a shared space of accountability in a safe space. Because I think the other piece is oftentimes folks don’t want to share publicly what they’re doing because they feel like they’re going to be shamed. And so this isn’t an opportunity to shame people. We don’t want to shame anybody about how much you give in or why you’re not giving or you’re late to the game. Really, it’s an opportunity and a call and an invite to say, What can we do now? What is our baseline and how do we grow from there? And so, yes, we will collectively be holding accountability in a safe space as shared space. Yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:14] So that’s kind of tricky, right, because, you know, on one hand, you want to results are important and keeping score is important, but then you want to balance that with kind of meeting people where they are. So do you have any strategies on how to do that? Is this just based on kind of good communication and everybody collaborating and being on the same page or their kind of tactics you’ve done in the past that can help you achieve this?
Jasmine Jones: [00:06:40] Yeah, absolutely. So what we initially plan to do is bring some of the core folks together who are already doing the work. There are many institutions that are shifting the practices and culture within their institutions currently, and so they have a lot of knowledge and intel around how to move the work for it, how to move and shift their institutions to operate more abundantly. And so with those core folks, we’re going to really be designing what does the larger movement look like? How do we want people to come to the table? What is the commitment people are going to be giving to us and how do we share that out publicly? And so we want to grapple with that together, and I think that’s part of organizing. So my background, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I’m a I’m a community organizer. I also have background in philanthropy, in government. And so from a community organizing standpoint, you really want to organize your core, you want to organize your people to get on one page and then move forward from there. And so we are going to bring it to the people and we’re going to allow us collectively to define what does that look like?
Lee Kantor: [00:07:47] So abundance started in Chicago, is that right?
Jasmine Jones: [00:07:52] Correct. So the three core foundations that came together, Chicago beyond Grand Victoria Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, they all are based in Chicago. And so these conversations had initially taken place there and the three of them really said this. This needs to be something that’s across the country. You know, we shouldn’t just have abundance in Chicago. There’s black led organizations across the country. And so how are we really lifting up models maybe from Chicago, but also connecting across the country so we all can do it? I also just in full transparency, I’m from California and so I’ve done some philanthropy work in California. And there’s a lot of movement in California around foundations, really leaning into racial justice grantmaking and looking at their work through the lens of race. And so being able to connect those folks who are doing the work is really important, too. So how do we connect folks in California to the Midwest, to the South, so that there is more of a movement feeling, a swarm of folks that are coming together to really do the work? And I’m the type of person who recognizes that when people see something happening and the momentum is going and they feel like they’re being left out, they want to join. And so not everybody’s going to join year one. But by the time year 2025 comes around, I’m sure a lot of folks will be saying, I want to be down with this movement.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:21] So now the the movement sounds like the momentum began in Chicago and now you’re trying to take it to a new level over the entire country.
Jasmine Jones: [00:09:31] Absolutely. So we’ll continue to work in Chicago. There will be a deep core of foundations in Chicago. And our hope is really that, you know, with such interest in Chicago, there will be a significant increase of black led organizations in Chicago. But additionally, we want to have that feeling across the country.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:51] So now the folks you want to meet, are they primarily the people who operate black lead for philanthropic organizations? Is that your first group or are you going for any group? And then you’re just trying to get them to move some of their donating to these black led groups?
Jasmine Jones: [00:10:08] Yeah. So no, you do not have to be a black led institution in order to participate in. The Abundance movement. We recognize that there’s not you know, there’s not as many black lead philanthropic organizations across the country. And so we can’t leave people out who aren’t black because they still have the potential to serve black organizations. And we want to make sure that they’re intentional in thinking about that in their work. And so we are extending this invitation to anyone who is interested in working in community to figure out how they shift their practices in their organizations in order to increase their payouts. And so there’s been a lot of conversations with folks who have already expressed interest. Liz, Sharon and John had spoken with many, many foundations before I came on. And so I’m currently continuing to cultivate those relationships and also my networks of folks that I know to share abundance and see how it resonates and whether or not they will be able to join this movement with us.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:13] So for those folks out there, what’s kind of the elevator pitch for the why that this is important and why they should help?
Jasmine Jones: [00:11:23] I’m really happy you asked this question because oftentimes people push back on centering black folks in their work. However, research has found that on average, the revenues of black led organizations are 24% smaller than the revenues of their white counterparts. When it comes to the holy grail of financial support and if you’ve ever worked in nonprofit, you know how important unrestricted funding is. You know that is even bleaker. So the unrestricted net assets of black led organizations are 76% smaller than their white counterparts. That is enormous in terms of the potential in what black led organizations would do if that funding was even just slightly more equitable. Right. The disparity in unrestricted assets, net assets, is particularly startling as as such funding often represents a proxy of trust. And so oftentimes a significant amount of funding isn’t given to black led organizations because there’s a trust issue. They don’t trust the organization. They don’t trust how they may be operating or they don’t like the metrics in which the organization is measuring in order to show impact. And so it’s really critical to invest in black led organizations because historically they have been divested in. And if institutions really want to shift outcomes for black folks, they must invest in the visions black leaders have for their communities. And I just want to note that I was a leader of a nonprofit, and I sit on nonprofit boards, and I have witnessed firsthand the disparities in funding to black organizations and the impact it has on our ability to really carry out meaningful work. And so the abundance movement is the potential to change the narrative and allow black led organizations to feel more whole and operate with less stress. And so that may not have been an elevator pitch, but I definitely wanted to make sure you got the core of why it’s so important to do this work.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:22] So now, as we’re entering the back half of this year, what is going to be some kind of achievement that you and your team could have by the end of the year that you would be high fiving and celebrating?
Jasmine Jones: [00:13:38] Absolutely. So really, I want to start off with at least ten foundations that are coming to the table. And so if we can get ten foundations by the end of this year to say, I want to commit to the abundance movement and really move my institution forward in track progress and share publicly and hold ourselves accountable. That would be a high five by the end of this this year, getting ten folks to ten foundations to commit to the abundance movement. Initially, we’re working on really designing what the actual activities in the abundance community are going to look like for next year, in some years to come. And so a high five will be having that that design together by the end of the year. So we can go into 2023 and start doing action, like really start moving forward with this movement.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:29] So like I mentioned earlier, you’re this is you’re kind of new to the abundance movement, not new to philanthropy or working in the association space. But can you give some advice for other kind of maybe new leaders? What, you know, would you suggest so that they can kind of get get into a new role moving rather than just like, oh, now, like you’re you’re pushing the wheel from the first, which is hard. How do you how do you create momentum in order to make the change you envision?
Jasmine Jones: [00:15:03] Yeah. I would say to any new leader coming on, you know, take the few first few months to build relationships, build relationships, hear from people, understand what’s happening on the ground, understand who your constituents are, understand who, who the folks may be, who could potentially be a threat. And how do you build from there? How do you use and leverage those relationships to move the vision you have forward for your community? I think that’s the first thing, just taking the time to build relationships. The other thing I would say is to be bold do not stand down from your bold vision. Don’t be afraid to say black. Don’t be afraid to say you want to lead with supporting black led organizations or or centering black folks in your work. That was something that I learned. I wouldn’t say the hard way, but I was definitely nervous. And so my first job I toggled back and forth was like, Well, do I just say black or do I say people of color? Or, you know, and my board director at the time he was the president, you know, he really encouraged me to be bold and that I always must do things that are just. If I know that this work is just, then I must continue to move forward. And so that’s how I ended up landing on centering black students and families and the work that I did while I was mobilizing resources into schools and really excited to kind of move that that vision and work here at abundance.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:42] Right. So you’re suggesting leaned into it. Don’t you know, don’t hedge. This is what you’re doing. Be proud of it. And this is what it is. It is what it is.
Jasmine Jones: [00:16:51] It is what it is. You know, the truth is the truth. And the reality is black folks have not had the investments of our peers. And so we would really need and love that partnership from folks.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:04] Amen to that. So if somebody wants to learn more, get involved with the movement or just learn more to get on, you know, be one of those foundations that care. What is the website? What’s the best way to get a hold of you or somebody on the team?
Jasmine Jones: [00:17:16] Absolutely. The best way to get a hold of us is to go to the website, which is WW W abundance movement dot org. You can request a meeting through the website.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:28] And that’s abundance movement dot org. Right.
Jasmine Jones: [00:17:32] Right. W ww abundance movement dot org.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:37] Well, Jasmine, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Jasmine Jones: [00:17:42] Thank you, Lee, for having me. Thank you so much.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:45] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Association Leadership Radio.