Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation - InfluenceWatch

Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLM Global Network Foundation) is the national, organizing chapter of a network of 16 local Black Lives Matters chapters. [1] It is the primary organizational outgrowth of the more decentralized Black Lives Matter movement, and is a fiscally-sponsored project of the Tides Center, a subsidiary entity of the Tides Foundation, a major left-of-center donor-advised fund. [2]

Mission and Activities

BLM Global Network Foundation was founded in 2013 by activists Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. [3] Cullors, Garza, and Tometi created and popularized the “#blacklivesmatter” hashtag on social media that was instrumental in the early growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. [4] BLM Global Network Foundation was under the fiscal sponsorship of Thousand Currents (formerly the International Development Exchange). [5] Thousand Currents officially transferred control of BLM Global Network Foundation to Tides Center in July 2020. [6] That same month, Cullors became the executive director of the Foundation. [7]

BLM Global Network Foundation claims that its mission, and the mission of the Black Lives Matter movement generally, “is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” Advocating against the use of excessive force by law enforcement against African-Americans is central to the BLM Global Network Foundation mission,[8] and the movement as a whole gained national prominence after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in which Black Lives Matters protestors played central roles in organizing demonstrations against police. [9] BLM Global Network Foundation co-founder Cullors wrote at the time that the Black Lives Matter movement was “rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams.” [10]

BLM Global Network Foundation organizes protests against allegedly unjustified killings of African-Americans by police. In 2017, it organized protests and petition drives to demand that Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey prosecute five Inglewood, California, police officers involved in the shooting of two African-Americans who were sleeping in the officers’ police car. [11] The officers were fired but not prosecuted, and eventually sued the city for discrimination and unlawful termination, settling out of court for $8.6 million. [12]

In 2019, BLM Global Network Foundation unveiled its #WhatMatters2020 campaign, an effort to increase African-American turnout in the 2020 presidential election and “build collective power and ensure candidates are held accountable for the issues that systematically and disproportionately impact Black and under-served communities across the nation.” The campaign features voter registration drives in minority communities and especially among younger black voters. [13]

In 2020, BLM Global Network Foundation began advocating for releasing inmates from prisons and local jails in response to the spread of COVID-19 in those institutions, as well as for limitations on arrests during the pandemic to prevent viral spread in jail populations. [14]

BLM Global Network Foundation also sponsors “Black Lives Matter Arts+Culture,” which seeks to “disrupt the status quo of the art world by uplifting emerging Black artists who speak audaciously, who are unafraid, and who stand in solidarity with the most marginalized among us.” [15] In 2017, BLM Global Network Foundation sponsored “The Provocateurs: A Master Series,” where “[a]rtists give 12-minute TED-style talks about their practice and journey as a provocative Black artist.” [16]

BLM Global Network Foundation has been noted for its links to communist ideology. In 2020, video of an interview from 2015 resurfaced in which BLM Global Network Foundation co-founder Patrisse Cullors declared that she and fellow co-founder Alicia Garza were “trained Marxists.”[17] When Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died in 2016, the organization published an article on Medium that declared “we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,” and ended with “Fidel Vive!”[18] Susan Rosenberg, the vice-char of the board of directors of BLM Global Network Foundation’s former fiscal sponsor Thousand Currents, was a convicted member of the May 19th Communist Organization responsible for multiple bombings in the 1980s.[19]

Several of BLM Global Network Foundation’s affiliated local chapters make statements in opposition to capitalism on their official websites, including Black Lives Matter DC[20] and Black Lives Matter Chicago.[21]

In October 2020, activists from St. Louis created the Black Lives Matter PAC, a political action committee designed to endorse progressive, left-wing candidates and mobilize black voters. [22] The Black Lives Matter movement leaders are not officially affiliated with Black Lives Matter PAC but the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation does advertise the PAC to its email list. [23]

Organizational Structure and Internal Disagreements

BLM Global Network Foundation has asserted that it does not control the Black Lives Matter movement generally or even set the policy agenda for chapters within its network, claiming that it is a “leaderful,” not “leaderless” movement[24] that relies mostly on local leadership and activism as opposed to national leadership or policy advocacy. [25] The organization has been subject to internal disagreements between more moderate “reform” activists and more strident “abolition” activists who seek wholesale transformation of the criminal justice and political systems. [26] This dynamic has led some critics to argue that BLM Global Network Foundation and the Black Lives Matter movement generally disingenuously encourages radical and strident rhetoric, especially against police officers, and then disavows acts of violence against those officers committed by persons associated with or sympathetic to the movement. [27]

One example of the split between reformist and abolitionist camps is the conflict between BLM Global Network Foundation co-founders Garza and Tometi. Garza has been described as advocating “for staying outside of existing power structures” and as “not interested in playing ball with Democratic politicians for the sake of a few concessions here and there—or, worse, being used as a photo op prop by politicians.” By contrast, Tometi advocated working with the leadership of the Democratic party to enact legislative changes, especially in immigration policy. The relationship between the two founders deteriorated and Tometi has not been involved in the management of BLM Global Network Foundation since December 2015. [28]

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has been confused with the Black Lives Matter Foundation, a separate independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Santa Clarita, California with which it has no affiliation.[29] Thousand Currents, the former fiscal sponsor of BLM Global Network Foundation, reported more than $90,000 in combined grants to the Santa Clarita-based Black Lives Matter Foundation in its 2017[30] and 2018[31] tax filings. Thousand Currents later explained that these tax filings were erroneous, that no money was actually provided to the Black Lives Matter Foundation, and that the money was sent to local Black Lives Matter chapters.[32]

In audits covering fiscal years 2018[33] and 2019,[34] Thousand Currents reported $2,622,017 and $3,354,654, respectively, in donor-restricted assets for BLM Global Network Foundation. These audits also showed that 83.3 percent of BLM Global Network Foundation expenditures were for personnel, consultant, and travel costs during the three year period from 2017-2019, while about 6 percent were for grants to outside organizations, including to local Black Lives Matter Chapters.[35]


Among the largest donors to the group, at least indirectly, is the Ford Foundation, which in 2016 gave $100 million to the Black-Led Movement Fund, a fund administered by the philanthropic intermediary Borealis Philanthropy. [36] The Black-Led Movement Fund has in turn provided general operating funding to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation several times since 2016. [37]

Organizations that had donated to BLM Global Network Foundation through its former fiscal sponsor Thousand Currents between 2015 and 2019 include the NoVo Foundation ($1,525,000), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation ($900,000) and Borealis Philanthropy ($343,000).[38]

In 2015, Politico reported that members of the Democracy Alliance, a network of left-leaning high-dollar donors and grant makers organized by billionaire financier George Soros and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay, were encouraged to consider making large-dollar grants to the Black Lives Matter movement. Left-leaning mega-donors Tom Steyer and Paul Egerman were also listed by Politico as invited participants. However, it is unclear how much money eventually went to BLM Global Network Foundation from this gathering. It has also been reported by the Washington Times that Soros has given groups associated with the Black Lives Matter movement more than $33 million from his Open Society Foundations (OSF), though it is again unclear if BLM Global Network Foundation directly received funding from OSF. [39] [40]

On June 11, 2020, BLM Global Network Foundation acknowledged the “generosity and support of donors” when announcing a $6.5 million fund to support grassroots organizing work at any of its affiliated chapters.[41]