How Philanthropy Diverts Social Movements

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Philanthropic foundations are getting more criticism as we learn how their efforts shape our politics. But that impact has a long history, including pivotal roles in the Civil Rights Movement and the California farmworker movement. It turns out the money often comes with quite a few strings attached. Megan Ming Francis finds that philanthropy shifted the NAACP from its early focus on lynching and mob violence to its education-focused litigation. Erica Kohl-Arenas finds that foundations repeatedly encouraged the farmworker movement to pursue non-profit services over radical politics. Both say foundations still shape what social movements can pursue and what gets left off the table.

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