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Lorena Gonzalez & Jes Olvera: philanthropy, justice & child migrants


In this episode we speak to Lorena Gonzalez from the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights about their work supporting unaccompanied child migrants in the US, and what it means to put justice at the heart of their approach to philanthropy.


  • What is the current landscape of philanthropic funding for immigrant rights like in the US?
  • The issue of immigration is highly politicised (especially in the US), so when working as a funder in this field do you try to depoliticise it, or accept the reality that it will inevitably be seen through a political lens and work accordingly?
  • Is philanthropy too often paternalistic, and centered on decisions being made about communities rather than by them?
  • Can “funder ego” or “saviour mindset” present barriers to genuine efforts to share power?
  • Is this a particular problem when working with children, because there is a natural tendency to act in a paternalistic way towards them and want to “save” them?
  • What happens when there is also a racial element to this power dynamic?
  • How can funders overcome any concerns they might have about the perceived risks of shifting power into the hands of young immigrants?
  • What is Community-Centric Fundraising, and why has the Young Center adopted these principles in its work?
  • Why is core-cost and multi-year funding so important when supporting movements and grassroots orgs?
  • Does a focus on justice and solidarity require taking a different approach to philanthropy? What does this mean in practice?
  • Does viewing things through the lens of justice change the nature of the relationship between funders and recipients? (I.e., they are no longer “beneficiaries” in receipt of a “gift”, but rather able to make justice-based claims for things they are due by rights).
  • Do we need to measure impact in social change or social justice philanthropy? If so, how can we do it in a way that helps rather than harms grantees?

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