Trump’s Racist Tweets Prompt Foundations to Speak Out

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Foundation and nonprofit leaders have been stepping forward in recent days to denounce racist tweets from Donald Trump.

"We’re living in a moment where foundations and nonprofits are recognizing that the values expressed on their websites are more than words," said Stefan Lanfer, chairman of the Communications Network. "There’s an opportunity to give voice to them, and that matters just as much as the work in this time of greater and greater urgency."

Lanfer is also director of communications for the Barr Foundation, led by Jim Canales, one of the more vocal foundation leaders to speak out against the president in recent weeks.

Many foundation leaders began speaking up weeks ago, soon after Trump made his now infamous "go back" comments aimed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other minority women in Congress. Don Howard, CEO of the James Irvine Foundation, bemoaned the "ugly" state of discourse about immigration issues in a blog post. "We look forward to working with those who seek to reunite us around our historic American values of inclusion, refuge, and diversity," he wrote.

Trump’s attacks last weekend on African-American lawmaker Elijah Cummings sparked a fresh round of condemnation from grant makers. Howard said in a statement to the Chronicle that his organization wants to maintain a "nonpartisan, nonideological" stance, but "for Irvine, this is not political at all; we stand with our grantees and fellow Californians when they, or the communities they serve and represent, are attacked."

Howard added, "We respect other foundations’ decisions on when to speak out — and are encouraged at how many leaders in philanthropy have done so about things that concern them."