Personal (and Collective) Liberation Through Giving

Personal (and Collective) Liberation Through Giving

By Emily Bookstein
RG member and RG Portland chapter leader

What guidance would you give to a room full of fundraisers about how to ask you for money?

That was the question I tried to answer on a “#RealTalk with Major Donors” panel at the recent Allied Media Conference in Detroit. AMC is a conference led by people of color and queer and trans folks, a space for artists and organizers from marginalized communities to share their stories. By contrast, I’m a white cis woman from an upper-middle-class family. Because I’ve been involved with RG for four years, I’ve publicly shared my ‘money story’ many times over. But if I was going to speak on a panel at AMC, I was anxious to share my story in a way that would be useful.

Outside my childhood home with friends, I’m on the far right.

So, during the panel, I told the audience to remember that asking me for money is in service of my personal liberation — liberation from isolation and insecurity created by whiteness and class privilege.

I admit, in part I thought it might simply make folks feel better about asking donors like me for money. After all, … Continue reading »

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The Five Hindrances to Transforming as Young People With Wealth

The Five Hindrances to Transforming as Young People With Wealth

I just returned from a five-night silent meditation retreat at the stunning Vallecitos Retreat Center in northern New Mexico. I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for about seven years now and regularly attend silent meditation retreats to reground, center in my practice, and create dedicated space in my life for spiritual training and nourishment.

The retreat reaffirmed for me that the work of organizing young people with wealth for social justice is spiritual work and an extension of my spiritual practice. I don’t know any truer way to describe the work of reconnecting wealthy people with collective humanity and repairing the harm caused by wealth accumulation as anything but spiritual work.

So I want to bridge these worlds of mine and share some of the spiritual teachings I’ve learned and how they’re connected to our organizing. In the Vipassana/insight meditation tradition of the retreat I attended, there is a core teaching on the Five Hindrances [1], which can be understood as the major forces in the mind that hinder our ability to see clearly [2]. As I was listening to the teachings on the Five Hindrances I was struck by how much they resonate in my daily work, and how they … Continue reading »

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The Chronicles of a Young Brown Boy in NYC

The Chronicles of a Young Brown Boy in NYC

Pink Conway shopping bags filled with discounted clothes, my ammi and I walking back home to our Jamaica Avenue apartment, 90s NYC. Original flavor. This was before I became embarrassed about what was in those bags, this was before I even knew that other children had vastly different experiences from mine. Content, actually, happy in a way that only comes with the blissful ignorance of youth. This tiny brown boy who just came from Pakistan in 1994 did not yet have the vocabulary to articulate that his family was struggling.

My ammi worked in fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, and my abbu worked in the nearly extinct street-side newsstands (back when the cost of cigarettes were closer to 2 dollars than 20) and later worked in an Amoco gas station. Both worked full time. I was often left home alone or with whichever relative was available, VHS tapes of Hindi movies were both my guardians and friends.

To this day, I’ve never had my own room, I’ve always had to share with siblings, or cousins or parents. Privacy was an alien concept I only heard about from my white friends. And until recently, no one in my … Continue reading »

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Healthcare Not Wealthcare — A note from RG member Sam Waxman

Healthcare Not Wealthcare -- A note from RG member Sam Waxman

By Samantha Waxman,
RG chapter leader and member of RG’s National Campaign Team

Yes, Congress is trying to snatch healthcare away from 21 million people — again. They almost succeeded this week but for the tenuous objections of a few moderate Republican senators. This was in large part because of so much amazing activism and work by a huge number of people. But we’re not out of the swamp yet.

I’m tired of Mitch McConnell’s political donors hijacking our country and piling on the tax cuts for wealthy people in such a blatant ploy to enrich themselves at the expense of so many people’s access to care.

When elected leaders try to change laws in a way that prioritizes the wealth-hoarding of the rich over the most basic human needs of the many, RGers have a critical role in disrupting that narrative. In this moment of crisis in our country, young people with wealth can stand with the people most harmed by the threat to their care and their lives: communities of color, poor folks, immigrants, and individuals with disabilities — our communities. We need to send a strong message, and we need to do it now because this Continue reading »

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RG at AMC!

So many Resource Generation members came out to the Allied Media Conference in Detroit on June 15 – 18! Among them was Emily Bookstein of RG’s Portland Chapter — she spoke to a packed room as part of the panel, Real Talk with Major Donors, that we organized as part of AMC’s Resourcing and Sustaining Our Movements track.

The panel also included Emmanuel Garcia (Crossroads Fund), Nitika Raj (founder of Moksh Creative Consulting and formerly of RG as Director of Racial Justice and Co-Director of Programs), and Patti Aaron  (Detroit local, mom of an RGer, and works with local family foundations). The panel was moderated by our very own Kirin Kanakkanatt, our National Organizer with RG working with the chapters in the Northwest, Mountain West, and New Orleans.

The panel spoke to fundraising from their perspectives as being major donors, navigating power dynamics in giving, and the intersection of redistribution and collective liberation.

Check out the audio of the panel below!

(From left to right: Patti, Nitika, Kirin, Emmanuel, and Emily)

 … Continue reading »

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Will you join RG today?

Will you join RG today?

Friday is the last day of Resource Generation’s spring membership drive. We’re 31 members away from meeting our goal of 50 new members this spring!

Ready to become a member of RG? Get started here.

Why does RG membership matter in this critical moment?

Donald Trump was once a young person with wealth. Now he is making choices that will benefit the wealthy few at the expense of all other people and the planet while taking advantage of racism and xenophobia as an accelerant.

RG is building an active, coordinated, and visible base of young people with wealth who believe in a different future — one that centers the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. Our members are giving to and showing up alongside economic, racial, and social justice movements led by poor and working-class communities that hold a vision for a different world where all communities thrive.

RG members and staff at the People’s Climate March in D.C. in April 2017

Members power RG. We are proud to be 90% member funded each year. We’re in the final stretch of our spring membership drive and our goal is to add 31 new or renewal members by the end … Continue reading »

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Are you RG’s next Chapter Organizing Director?

Are you RG's next Chapter Organizing Director?


We are excited to announce we are launching our search for our next Chapter Organizing Director!

The heart of our organizing is community, and one of the primary ways we build this community together is through our chapters! Can you imagine Resource Generation before chapters? In our early years, RG focused on national retreats, and over time we realized the power of building strong local chapters that take action together. We now have 17 chapters across the country who are the foundation of our work – organizing praxis groups, training leaders, showing up for local partners, giving together, and building strong relationships.

Mobilizing resources is one of the primary ways young people with wealth can leverage their unique access on behalf of social movements.

Sarah Abbott has spent the last six years building our chapter organizing model. Sarah will be taking on a new role with our organization as our Resource Mobilization Director. This role will help us better understand, organize and coordinate the ways our base moves money as a community. Sarah will step into this new position starting on September 1, 2017, which means we are beginning the search for a new Chapter Organizing Director!

We are Continue reading »

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Unquantifiable Data

Unquantifiable Data

Jes with two of her housemates, Delilah the dog and Rosalina the cat.

I am a bit of a gambler. Had you asked me at any point what are the odds that you’ll work for an organization that organizes rich people, I would have bet against it. The odds were incredibly low. And yet, Resource Generation organizes young people with wealth, and I organize Resource Generation’s retreats.

When I started this job I brought with me a lot of working-class pride, southern geniality and a misguided notion that I had a somewhat solid comprehension of class in this country. A year later, I am humbled by how much I’ve learned and curious how vast the unknowns of my oblivion still are. You simply cannot know what you do not know. I want to share a few reflections on what I’ve learned about class, economics and possibility in this time. I do not claim any of these learnings to be original. This is some of what I, from my particular vantage point in the world, am contemplating. Here are ten reflections thus far, the first 5 are personal learnings and second 5 are political lessons, for whatever that distinction is worth.… Continue reading »

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Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap

On May 20th I attended the North Star Fund’s forum for Resilient New York, a forum to advance grassroots organizing as a key strategy to protect the dignity and rights of all New Yorkers. The event was a call to community members, donors, grantmakers, and organizers to unite around a proactive shared vision to support the grassroots for the next four years and beyond.

I had the honor of participating in the closing plenary: Resourcing the Resistance, Building Power Over Time (recording available here). The other panelists were all incredible women of color leaders representing the perspectives of funders and grassroots organizers.

We didn’t plan it this way, but I was seated in the middle of the panel, between the institutional funders and the grassroots organizers. I thought that was a fitting metaphor for the role that Resource Generation plays as a bridge between these worlds.

Left-to-right – Moderator: Kevin Ryan (New York Foundation), Cathy Dang (CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities), Mo George (Picture the Homeless), Iimay Ho (Executive Director, RG), Tynesha McHarris (NoVo Foundation), Camille Emeagwali (New York Women’s Foundation)


Some highlights from the panel include:

Cathy Dang from CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities spoke about the importance… Continue reading »
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My story of race, class, and why I organize rich kids

My story of race, class, and why I organize rich kids

I’ve spent the last eight years in various fundraising and grantmaking roles in support of social justice movements. When I talk about my work, after pushing through the looks of confusion and clarifying questions, I often get asked how I ended up at this intersection of money and movements that is full of contradictions and imperfections. There is often an assumption that I come from a wealthy background to even be doing this work. What’s true is that being a white, cisgender man and having learned the language and customs of philanthropy helps me pass as wealthy. I choose to leverage those privileges to access and organize communities with financial resources to align with and participate in movements led by poor and working-class people and people of color.

The truth is I grew up squarely middle-class. Middle-class is a term that is often used loosely, evading honesty about class. Looking back on census data during my childhood, our family annual income has historically hovered right below average. In 1998, when I was eleven years old, my family of four was living on about $50,000 while the median income in the U.S. for families of four was $55,886. Acknowledging the racial … Continue reading »

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