In less than a month after black human right’s activist and city councilor Marielle Franco was brutally assassinated in Rio de Janeiro, three international and a Brazilian foundation have come together to donate $10 million to the Baobá Fund in honor of Franco.

The Baobá Fund is the only fund specifically focused on promoting racial equality in the country. The Ford Foundation has been supporting the Baobá Fund since its creation in 2011, with grants totaling more than $1 million. The $10 million donation will be used to build up the Fund’s endowment, and invest in projects focused on empowering Brazilian black women all over the country.

This partnership between Ibirapitanga and the Ford, Open Society and Kellogg foundations shows the responsiveness and potential of private philanthropy in Brazil to support new female black leaders who will carry on Franco’s legacy. The fund is currently being announced at 10th annual GIFE congress in São Paulo, the most important meeting of private philanthropy actors in Brazil.

São Paulo, April 5, 2018—In honor of the late Marielle Franco, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the Ibirapitanga Institute have announced an initiative to foster and support black women who aspire to political leadership in Brazil.

With a donation of $3 million to Baobá Fund, an institution dedicated to the struggle for racial equality in Brazil, the Initiative draws on the councilwoman’s work to broaden the voice of black women and their access to power in Brazil.

“Marielle showed that a black, bisexual woman from the favelas could hold and exercise power. Her brutal murder was an attempt to negate this truth. Announcing to the world that Brazil will produce new Marielles is crucial,” said Pedro Abramovay, director of the Open Society Foundations’ Latin America program. “This fund ensures that black women from the favelas will occupy spaces of power and that there is no going back to the days when this was seen as impossible.”

The Baoba Fund was founded in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2011, which provides matching funds for every donation. In this case, the matching funds are in a scale of two to one for international donations and three to one for Brazilian investments, reaching $10 million. With the donation from the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the Ibirapitanga Institute —alongside the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s matching donations—the fund can now increase its reach and investment potential.

“This initiative shows the importance of elevating black women in Brazilian society. Marielle embodied not only the changes we wish for, but also the ones we know we are able to realize,” said Átila Roque, director of the Ford Foundation’s Brazil office.

The initiative was announced during the 10th GIFE Congress, an annual event that gathers social investors from all over Brazil. “We want to show the world of Brazilian philanthropy how important it is to support the most vulnerable people in our society, the people who most need change,” said Andre Degenszajn, CEO of the Ibirapitanga Institute.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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