Questioning the Self-Made Myth

Questioning the Self-Made Myth

Photo courtesy of the author.

My dad came from nothing, or so the story goes. He grew up on his family’s farm in the dry plains of western Nebraska, feeding the chickens each morning before walking to the one-room schoolhouse miles down the road. Eventually, he left home on a scholarship to study engineering at a regional university, where he landed a summer job working as a roughneck on an oil rig off the Louisiana coast.

With no connections and no inheritance, my dad relied on his innate intellect, hard work, and self-discipline to ascend the corporate pyramid to a series of executive jobs at large, Fortune 500 energy companies.


In this telling, my dad is a living case study of American meritocracy.

Most RG constituents have a tale like this somewhere in their family tree—the man (it’s almost always a man) who (1) started with nothing, (2) was smart and worked really hard, and (3) made some money (okay, a lot of money).

Something about this narrative always struck me as a little too tidy and self-serving, like a quaint Potemkin parable.

For one thing, it’s a calculus that equates money with virtue: 0 + smart/hard-working = money. … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized

Partners of Young People with Wealth: North Carolina RG’s amazing, strong, fierce Partner Praxis Group

Partners of Young People with Wealth: North Carolina RG’s amazing, strong, fierce Partner Praxis Group

By: The North Carolina Partner Praxis Group

The North Carolina partner praxis group is a fierce, loving, and caring community. We are a group of Resource Generation members who are partners of young people with wealth. We come from poor, working, and middle class backgrounds and are currently in a cross-class relationship with someone with wealth. Many of us have found a sense of grounding in Resource Generation because of this unique branch of our chapter. We’ve been going strong for 4 years, and we think that’s kind of amazing.

Our first few gatherings were during chapter meetings, where we’d split up between partner and non-partner groups, and address any topics the chapter was discussing through the lens of being a partner. Eventually, our partner praxis evolved and started to shift in a more formal way when a few local partners emailed each other. Our idea was to gather in a completely separate environment than the chapter meetings, and be in the company of other folks who identified as not coming from a background of wealth or class privilege, yet who were dating, in a serious relationship with, or married to a young person with wealth. This was the start … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Why Give $ to Rich Kids?” My Experience FUNdraising for RG

“Why Give $ to Rich Kids?”  My Experience FUNdraising for RG

Hey RG!  I’m here today to talk about my experience fundraising members for RG – but first let me tell you a little bit about my own RG journey, because that’s really where the story begins.

I found RG almost four years ago, when I was a freshman in college at Stanford University.  I participated in one of the first praxis groups at Stanford, and before I knew it I was organized into chapter leadership and convinced to attend Making Money Make Change.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  But here I am, four years later, and RG has been a game-changing political home for me, a place of personal support, transformation and accountability, and a group that will always bring a smile to my face or a dance move to my body in the midst of important and complicated work.

Earlier this year I participated in Resource Generation’s Spring Appeal, an annual effort to recruit new dues-paying members to RG and encourage current members to renew.  My experience had some parallels to my entire RG journey – I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but four months later I’m so glad … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , ,

Philly RG testifies for Affordable Housing

Philly RG testifies for Affordable Housing

In January 2016, RG Philly created a Political Action working group, to discern our role in and take action on local economic and racial justice campaigns. We went through a process of considering where we could have the most impact, and in March 2016 RG Philly joined the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities. PCAC’s current campaign, Development without Displacement, is focused on adequately funding the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which will help keep long-term residents in their homes, working towards a vision of more community controlled neighborhoods.  

Since joining the campaign, RG members have shown up for actions at city hall, gathered signatures for PCAC’s petition to city council, and testified at the Office of Housing and Community Development’s and the City Council’s budget hearings. Testifying alongside of other coalition members has been a powerful experience of leveraging our privilege in ways that deepen relationships and clarify our work in PCAC and Philadelphia.  We’re excited about RG chapters joining political campaigns, so are offering our testimony here, and inviting others who are excited about cross-class coalitions, affordable housing, and land justice movements to connect with us.

Jessica Rosenberg Testifying at Office of Housing and Community Development, April 19th, 2016Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-Class Giving in Philly with Bread & Roses

Cross-Class Giving in Philly with Bread & Roses

by Ben Goldstein

Photo courtesy Bread and Roses Giving Project

What does it mean to be accountable to a cross-class, cross-generational and multi-racial group raising money for grassroots organizing as a young white man with access to wealth? This is the question I asked myself when I joined the Bread & Roses Giving Project early this year. The Giving Project is a 6-month long undertaking dedicated to raising funds for racial and economic justice in the Philadelphia area. The Project involved twenty people, including a handful of RG-Philly members that participated as rich folks who are transparent about their access to wealth. Together we did the work of becoming what Bread & Roses calls donor-organizers: we participated in a weekend-long training on the racial wealth divide, fundraised our networks, made meaningful gifts of our own, and interviewed grantees to determine collectively where the funds we raised should go. Each step of the way was expertly facilitated by the Bread and Roses staff, which allowed participants with varying degrees of experience with social justice organizing to have honest conversations with one another, and with their friends and their families, about the need to fund organizations working for justice and systems change … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RG Leadership Transition

Dear RG community,

It is with deep gratitude that we are announcing RG’s Executive Director, Jessie Spector, will be stepping down on January 31st 2017.

Over her eight years on staff, and four as ED, Jessie has been part of leading the RG community into tremendous growth and new domains on multiple levels. She helped usher RG into the era of organizing: establishing formal chapters, developing the Praxis Group model, taking on bold, public-facing campaign work, and centering racial justice in all that we do. She was part of the team to steward us into creating a membership structure, stabilized finances, and establishing organizational policy that aligns with our social justice values. Jessie has shared her own and the organization’s story to help grow a diverse cadre of young people with wealth and partners working towards RG’s mission.

We hold deep appreciation for all that Jessie has contributed to the organization, and look forward to partnering with her on a thoughtful transition process.

Jessie says, 
My tenure on RG staff has been one of the best aspects of my life. I feel blessed to be so deep in the RG community and to have been given the opportunity to lead … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: ,

Centering Racial Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty in the New Economy

I was deep in the new economy and localism scene when I finally connected with Resource Generation in 2013. I had been working on local investment issues, and how to connect local investors with local businesses. Behind the scenes I was working on convincing my family that our assets, or at least any capital in my name, should be moved off Wall Street onto Main Street. I attended the first Commonbound conference in 2014, after attending MMMC for the first time and getting an introduction to how economic justice work is innately connected to racial justice. Coming to Commonbound this year, after a couple of years learning about the intersections of race and class, I was surprised and deeply grateful for the shifts that have happened over the past 5 or 10 years–in both my own understanding and what seems like the broader new economy field–to move beyond centering white rich folks investing in fancy organic food enterprises and instead moving into the heart of the transformative work that must be done to fix our economy–centering racial justice and indigenous sovereignty.

Reflections from CommonBound

I’m moved by the organizing that’s happened in the New Economy space, led by people of … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Moving Money in a Crisis

After the tragedy in Orlando, the New York City RG chapter hosted a conversation about moving money in response to crises. Here are some choice quotes from our discussion:

How to understand Orlando:

“We can’t forget that [Orlando] is one moment in a larger crisis of homophobia, Islamophobia, et cetera. Just like Sandy was one moment in a larger crisis of poverty, broken infrastructure, systemic racism, et cetera.”

“Focusing on gun control distracts from the real issues. This was an example of violence, not just by an individual, but by the state — the homophobic and transphobic laws that have been passed across the U.S., the fact that the shooter worked for G4S, a security firm contracted by the State Department and Israel, for example.”

“Orlando is connected to daily violence of queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color. People are in crisis around you right now. We fight to live — the state is killing us every day.”

“Powerful people and organizations are using this [post-Orlando] moment to push a political agenda. We might as well promote our agenda, too! We should organize in these moments, too.”

How to approach giving in moments of crisis:

“The real answer … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives

Things are not getting worse. They are becoming more transparent as they get uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back this veil. – Adrienne Maree Brown

Last week’s murders have left us reeling. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Delrawn Small Dempsey. We condemn these murders of Black people as we condemned the murders of Michael Brown, Tanisha Anderson,  Eric Garner, Sandra Bland; the hundreds more who have died at the hands of the state whose names we’ve heard in the news  and the thousands more whose names never entered our national conversation.

The murder of Black people is not new. The US has yet to reconcile its history of Black exploitation and oppression with the promises of the U.S. Constitution. What’s new is the hyper-visibility of these murders to those of us who have been more shielded from the violence until now. It is more important than ever that we do not look away, but rather go toward the source and uproot it.

We also condemn the murder of the five police officers in Dallas. Modern policing in the US was born out of slave patrols and policing as we know it is not going to … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , ,

Door-Knocking for Reparations–as a Rich Kid

Door-Knocking for Reparations--as a Rich Kid

by Dominque Tan and Rachel Gelman, Bay Area RG Chapter leaders

If a group of poor and indigenous people knocked on your door, would you receive them? If they asked whether you would donate your resources to community reparations, would you?

This spring, POOR Magazine challenged both the Bay Area Resource Generation Chapter and the broader wealthy community to step up by participating in their Stolen Land and Hoarded Resources Tour. POOR Magazine is a poor and indigenous people-led grassroots non-profit arts organization, and coordinated the Tour to ask people with class and race privilege to participate in the process of decolonization and community reparations.

When we got the ask from POOR Magazine to speak about RG and our commitment to the process of community reparations, so many questions and feelings surged within us: excitement to take action and solidarity, love for this organization and its work, fear for coming out so publicly for the first time, and caution about saying the right things that aligned with who we are as people and as an organizational ally.

Regardless of the mixed feelings, we were determined to respond to and fulfill a call to action by our poor and indigenous community … Continue reading »

Posted in: Action, Class Privilege, Donor Organizing, GIving, Racial Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , ,