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The Tzedek Social Justice Fund (Tzedek) has been supporting the social justice work of grassroots organizations, collectives and cooperatives, nonprofits, and local leaders since the late 1980s. We fund work that is centered on LGBTQ Justice, Racial Justice, and Combatting Antisemitism and is aligned with our mission.
The Tzedek Social Justice Fund redistributes money, resources, and power to support systems change and community healing in Asheville, North Carolina. Through adaptive, trust-based philanthropy, we resist oppressive systems and work to transform our collective home into a place where everyone flourishes.
We dream of a thriving Asheville, where everyone’s needs are abundantly met and where everyone is safe, respected, and celebrated. We believe that a community rooted in joy and love is possible.
Our Organizational Values + Practices
What we do matters, but how we do it is equally important. The following organizational values and practices describe ways of being and showing up that align us with Amy Mandel’s founding vision. From this stance we can not only shift toxic patterns of philanthropy but also live into the world we dream of.
As an organization, we strive to embody the following values and practices in our day-to-day work:
WIDE-REACHING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Being rooted in community requires deep engagement with our community partners. To do our work, we need to have a gauge on the pulse of what is happening in our area politically, economically, culturally, and historically. We understand that everyone from the most vulnerable members of our community to those with institutional power have important information for us. In our work, we strive to act from an awareness that there is not one community, not one Asheville, so we actively pursue wisdom from wide-ranging communities, and we practice showing up and being in conversation as essential and valuable organizational practices.
As a learning organization, we explicitly allow our analysis to evolve over time in response to what is unfolding in our world. We keep our antenna up and sit with what we learn in order to synthesize and integrate the wisdom. In our work, we practice ongoing learning by actively watching what is happening in the world around us, in social movements, and in philanthropy. We use all our intelligences: intellectual, emotional, spiritual and embodied wisdom to guide our work. Our organizational strategy, grantmaking practices, and program offerings change in response to our learning.
Humility is a practice that counteracts internalized superiority. It requires a deep openness to others’ experiences and perspectives. But acting with humility is not acting from guilt. We can humbly hold that there’s so much we don’t know AND that we do know some essential things. In our work, we practice humility when we own our mistakes, name when we’re wrong, boldly admit what we don’t know and what our limits are, credit others for their contributions, and allow ourselves to be guided by experiences that are not our own.
Bridge building is the work of continually looking for points of connection and collaboration. We understand that our survival and thriving depends on our interdependence. We resist call out culture–shaming and blaming others. We practice bridge building by inviting people to the table, including unlikely collaborators. We look for possible synergies, and we approach conflicts and breakdowns as opportunities for enhancing and deepening our connection.
People are as important as the outcomes of our work or accomplishing the goals of a project. Relationship building requires that we show up as whole selves. We understand that priceless insight comes from the organizations and leaders whose work we support. In our work, we build relationships by taking time with people and diving deeply into intentional conversation. We resist our culturally conditioned tendency toward polarization and practice relationship building by embracing a nuanced perspective. We understand that the world is complicated and messy. People, ourselves included, are neither good nor bad.
SYSTEMS THINKING AND OUT OF THE BOX STRATEGY
We seek to understand the root causes of the problems we face. In our work, we practice systems thinking by pushing against status quo ways of understanding the world. We continually ask what’s possible and where are openings for social change? We take risks, and we pursue out-of-the-box strategies. We know that this moment calls for more than the same old solutions because those solutions often lead to the same old results.
PRIORITIZING IMPACTED LEADERSHIP AND GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATIONS
People most directly impacted by systems of injustice are best situated to lead change work. We prioritize impacted leadership and grassroots organizations by trusting that people know what they need. We believe that organizations focused on activating communities and building power will lead to the deep social change we need.
Throughout 2019, Tzedek gathered the wisdom of 29 of Asheville’s non-profit and movement leaders, community partners, and leaders in the field of social justice philanthropy through a community-based research process. Eleven Ashevillians also served as trusted advisors to guide the process and analyze the data. To craft our new mission, vision and values, we began with the words and stories shared with us throughout that process.