Ford Foundation Donates $100 Million to Black Lives Matter-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
The Ford Foundation has pledged $100 million in support to Black Lives Matter, leading to calls for a boycott of Ford.
It’s true that the Ford Foundation has pledged $100 million to the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), a coalition of social justice organizations endorsed by Black Lives Matter. But the Ford Foundation hasn’t been connected to the Ford Motor Company for more than 40 years.
First, we’ll start out by providing some background about Black Lives Matter, BLMF and the Movement for Black Lives since the connections between these organizing and fundraising networks can be confusing.
In July 2016, the Ford Foundation announced that it would partner with Borealis Philanthropy, Movement Strategy Center and Benedict Consulting to found BLMF. In turn, BLMF will serve as a donor network supporting the Movement for Black Lives, a social justice movement endorsed by Black Lives Matter, according to a foundation blog post:
The Movement for Black Lives has created an opportunity for philanthropy to see and learn from new and dynamic forms of social justice leadership and infrastructure. To support and fund this thriving movement, philanthropy itself has had to adapt. Meanwhile, leaders have kept donors’ good intentions in check with candid reminders of how philanthropy can hurt a movement, as well as how it can help. Listening and learning is central to Ford’s approach, as we strive to be a thoughtful, effective social justice funder at this critical time.By partnering with Borealis Philanthropy, Movement Strategy Center, and Benedict Consulting to found the Black-Led Movement Fund, Ford has made six-year investments in the organizations and networks that compose the Movement for Black Lives.
Borealis Philanthropy, meanwhile, provides a little more insight about the goal of BLMF at its website:
The Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), led by Borealis Philanthropy, is a collaborative and pooled donor fund established by the Ford Foundation and Anonymous Donors. In partnership with donors and activists, the BLMF aims to support philanthropic and field-building activities that strengthen the next generation of social justice leaders. Specifically, the collaborative effort supports the infrastructure, innovation and dynamism of intersectional Black-led organizing that have become integral components of what many call the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL).
Rumors about the Ford Foundation pledging more than $100 million to Black Lives Matter went viral after the announcement. The Washington Times reported that Black Lives matter had cashed in with the Ford Foundation’s donation — and, aside from (falsely) implying that Black Lives Matter would receive the entire $100 million donation, the report was factually correct. But, as similar reports spread across social media and conservative news sites, details started getting fuzzy. Freedom Daily, a right-wing website, demonstrates how that happened in a post calling for a Ford boycott that was shared nearly 30,000 times on social media within a week that begins:
Ford just donated $100 million dollars to Black Lives Matter.
The Washington Post reported: street uprising, Black Lives Matter is increasingly awash in cash, raking in pledges of more than $100 million from liberal foundations and others eager to contribute to what has become the grant-making cause du jour.
This story (and calls for Ford boycotts that followed it) made three critical errors: it confused the Washington Post with the Washington Times, it confused the Ford Motor Company with the Ford Foundation, and it confused the Black-Led Movement Fund with Black Lives Matter.
In reality, the Ford Motor Company and the Ford Foundation are completely separate organizations since the 1970s. Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, started the Ford Foundation in 1936 with an initial gift of $25,000. The foundation took in huge bequests from Henry and Edsel’s estates upon their deaths in the 1940s and grew to become the biggest philanthropy in the world at the time.
Edsel’s son, Henry Ford II, was involved in the Ford Foundation up until 1976, but the foundation began selling off Ford stocks in the 1950s and moved its headquarters from Dearborn, Michigan, to New York City in the 1960s. Ford II resigned over the foundation’s “march to the left” in 1976, and no Ford family member has served on the board of trustees since. Today, the Ford Motor Company has a separate nonprofit arm, the Ford Fund, and is in no way connected to the Ford Foundation.
In the end, the Ford Foundation and the Ford Motor Company are completely separate organizations. And the Ford Foundation pledged $100 million to the Black-Led Movement Fund, which is not the same thing as Black Lives Matter. That’s why we’re calling this one truth and fiction.