30 June 2020 Press Release Finance and Capital Markets

Funders join forces to advance a global economy that works for people and the planet.

The Response & Vision Fund launches today to support community-led and civil society organizations, workers’ rights groups and social movements that work with those most impacted by the economic fallout of Covid-19.

New York, June 29, 2020 – A new fund to advance fair global economic responses to COVID-19 launched today. The Response and Vision Fund, an initiative of a newly formed donor collaborative – Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy (FORGE) – seeks to build the power of workers and communities, strengthen accountability, and advance progress towards a vision of a global economy that works for people and the planet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated how interconnected the world is, and how entrenched economic disparities remain. Women, migrants and marginalized racial and ethnic groups in multiple regions are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Right now, migrant workers in the Persian Gulf States are forced to live in overcrowded dormitories where little can be done to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. In Latin America, corporations are taking advantage of lock-downs to accelerate extraction and harm of indigenous communities’ natural resources. In Asia, women working in global supply chains face deepening poverty and precarity as buyers cut economic ties.

With such disparities laid bare, the FORGE collaborative and additional philanthropies – which together encompass a variety of arenas, including workers’ rights, climate change, indigenous rights, women’s rights and corporate accountability – have come together to launch the Response and Vision Fund, to advance support to communities most acutely impacted by this crisis and to help drive much-needed systemic change within the global economy.

The Response and Vision Fund has the following three immediate priorities:

  • Build power: Bolster and elevate power-building organizations led by and in service to those most impacted by the economic fallout of Covid-19, including migrant workers, women, indigenous communities, peasant farmers and the urban poor;
  • Strengthen accountability: Hold financial and corporate actors – particularly those providing or receiving bailouts, stimulus and recovery funds – to account for impacts of their actions in the context of this crisis;
  • Shape bailout and recovery packages: Shape transnational bailout, recovery and stimulus initiatives, to center economic, climate and gender justice.

The Fund’s first rounds of funding through this year will build forward into a second systems-change track that will advance innovative international strategies for a more just global economy.

The Fund will support promising strategies to achieve impact now, and to translate those lessons to scale.

There are multiple ways in which funders can seek to address challenges inherent in the global economic system: the FORGE collaborative creates a dynamic space for funders to learn from the field and each other, to align strategies effectively, as well as to pool resources.

The Response and Vision Fund is not only a collaboration between several members of FORGE, but also an effort supported by additional philanthropic partners who are not currently part of the collaborative. The Fund welcomes further donor contributions. At the present moment funding from the Fund is by invitation only.

Patrick Gaspard, President, Open Society Foundations, said: “We are living through a pivotal moment. Philanthropies have a role to play in determining how we build back from COVID-19. Far too often, philanthropies work in their silos, and for this, I am heartened to see so many of us come together through the FORGE collaborative, to work together across our various sectors to ensure that the voices of those most impacted by both the economic disparities in our world, and the ecological destruction in the name of profit, are at the center of the policies and reforms put in place to ensure a more inclusive, and responsible recovery.”

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, said: “COVID-19 has electrified long-standing flaws in our global economy. The Response and Vision Fund invests in the power of working people who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, to advance solutions that will not only drive recovery in the short term, but will build an economy that works for everyone in the long term.”

Leslie Johnston, CEO of Laudes Foundation, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deficiencies in our dominant economic system which perpetuate inequality and vulnerability. We are proud to join other funders to support the brave approaches of civil society, labour and environmental groups to seize opportunities to transform this system.”

Srik Gopal, Managing Partner, Humanity United, said: “Our global economy is characterized by the power imbalance between employers and vulnerable workers. It is now our responsibility to support communities and workers in ways that fundamentally shift this imbalance, while also holding corporate and government actors accountable. The Response and Vision Fund will play a critical role in helping communities rebuild a more equitable system.”

Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund, said: “As governments shape stimulus and recovery packages, people – not corporations – must be at the center of policymaking. Decisions made now will determine whether we set the global economy on a path of continued inequality or universal human rights. As we face crises ranging from climate destruction to deepening economic and social divides, the necessary choice is clear. Through FORGE and the Response and Vision Fund, funders are working collaboratively for greater impact, investing in system change that defends the rights of people today and improves the lives of future generations.”

Conniel Malek, Executive Director, True Costs Initiative, said: “This pandemic has simply unmasked the mutually reinforcing health, economic and inequality crises which already existed. The Response and Vision Fund allows us to build and use our collective muscle to prioritize those most affected by these crises and to challenge existing systems that concentrate power without accountability to people.”

Gabriel Baracatt, CEO of Fundación Avina, said: “Those whose rights are constantly under attack are more vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic. Only by ensuring their capacity to exercise power can we shift some of the structural imbalances that have exacerbated the fallout of the crisis in the global South. Ground-breaking innovations are tackling COVID-related challenges while dismantling inequitable structures. Through collective collaboration, the Response and Vision Fund looks to elevate some of these promising global South-led initiatives.”

Daria Caliguire, Director of the SAGE Fund, said: “We are witnessing widespread structural failures of our global economy to protect workers, communities and the planet. We are also witnessing an unparalleled opening to advance solutions and a collective response from the ground up. Through FORGE and the Response and Vision Fund, funders are coming together with civil society and social movements to support, cultivate and scale strategies that target root causes of disparities and human rights abuses within the global economy.”

Mike Kubzansky, CEO, Omidyar Network, said: “This moment requires a bold and unifying response. The Response and Vision Fund is an opportunity to begin to address the near-term economic crisis and drive longer-term systemic change. We must rebuild an economy that is equitable, sustainable, and recognizes the need to increase worker power. Collectively and globally, we strive to create and preserve a healthy society where prosperity is fairly shared.”

Note to editors:  Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy, (FORGE), is a newly formed collaborative in which participants have opportunities to learn from the field and each other, align strategies effectively, and also to pool funds. FORGE members include Ford Foundation, Freedom Fund, Fundación Avina, Humanity United, Laudes Foundation, Open Society Foundations, SAGE Fund, True Costs Initiative, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, and Wallace Global Fund. www.forgefunders.org

The Response and Vision Fund is open to funders beyond those participating in FORGE. In addition to FORGE members, Omidyar Network and an anonymous foundation are seed contributors to the Fund. 

For additional information or to arrange interviews, please be in touch with Lucy Carrigan, Communications Officer at Open Society Foundations: lucy.carrigan@opensocietyfoundations.org