Shay Berkowitz and Phyllis Wiener have been dedicated, lifelong activists for social justice in Minnesota and beyond.
In 1999, we found a new way to support the movement when we inherited family money. At that time we invited activists and community members into a conversation imagining how this inheritance could help transform the world around us. From those conversations came a foundation with a deep commitment to social justice - Still Ain’t Satisfied, A Foundation With Attitude (SAS).
Over the years we have funded a wide array of work, from the arts and reproductive rights, to immigrant and LGBTQ communities. We have invested in the fight against climate chaos and worked to protect human rights and affordable housing. We’ve helped exciting new projects get off the ground. We’ve funded those providing needed direct services and powerful grassroots organizing for long-term changes. At our core, we have been committed to investing in work for social change that is often overlooked or deemed too radical.
As we wrote in our original mission:
“We have a passionate commitment to radical action that affirms the dignity of all. A belief in the collective power and responsibility of people to make change. A vision of a world where unity and justice replace division and inequality.”
That core purpose and dream for our communities hasn’t changed, but it has, over time, become more focused and strategic. A pivotal moment for us came during the 2012 campaign to defeat the proposed voter ID and marriage discrimination amendments in Minnesota. Nearly all progressive organizers and leaders felt that we couldn’t possibly defeat both these attacks on our community at once. Feeling called to fight back, we convened a group of progressive organizations and partners to build a united campaign despite the long odds. It brought disparate and usually disconnected pieces of our movement together - and by uniting, Minnesota activists, progressive organizations and allies did the impossible and defeated both on Election Day.
It was a decisive moment in Minnesota and around the country where we experienced the power that is possible when we make the connections between struggles and unite for our collective liberation.
Where We Are Now
The years since have brought changes to SAS. Recognizing the possibility of having a real impact on our state, we’ve been hungry to ensure that we were being as strategic as possible. Additionally, our daughter Maya, an activist and organizer in her own right, joined the foundation. This expanded our capacity and gave us a renewed energy and a drive to be more accountable to our community.
To that end, we spent 2016 working with grantees, consultants, and our progressive community honing in on how we could increase our impact and be more transparent.
Coming out of that process, we are proud and excited to affirm a deep commitment to:
- Grassroots organizing in Minnesota;
- Bringing people together out of their silos and supporting organizers, groups, organizations and movements to heal the painful histories of colonization and slavery in our country and deepen our connections to each other as we fight for justice;
- Investing in every level of our movement – not just established organizations – where people are serious about dismantling white supremacy and are in the work every day to make our shared vision of a more just and equitable Minnesota real;
- Doing more than writing checks. As donor activists, we partner with you in strategy, show up at your marches, knock on doors, and leverage everything we can to build a path to our collective liberation;
- Finally, recognizing the role that philanthropic structures can play in reinforcing divisions within our movement, we are exploring how SAS can organize with other funders to more strategically fund movement work.
We do this because we know in our bones that our future well-being - even our survival and the survival of all that we hold dear - depends on it.
So investigate our website. Be creative in how we might partner with you on anything from launching a bold new campaign to supporting your infrastructure or ensuring that you have what’s needed to protect your community in a time of crisis.
Now let’s get to work building a strong, bold, all-inclusive movement of social, environmental, racial, and economic justice!