Press Release

Council on Foundations, Independent Sector File Amicus Brief in Fearless Foundation Lawsuit to Protect Right to Give

WASHINGTON - The Council on Foundations (The Council) and Independent Sector (IS) have filed a joint amicus brief in support of the Atlanta-based Fearless Foundation, an organization led by Black women that helps combat underfunding in venture capital by providing grants, tools, and mentorship to women of color.

The American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER) has sued the foundation, claiming that its grant program for Black female entrepreneurs is racially discriminatory. In the brief, the Council and Independent Sector call on the court to dismiss this lawsuit and rule in line with the First Amendment that philanthropies and individuals have a constitutional right to donate to charitable causes that align with their values, including efforts to support historically marginalized groups.

“The American spirit of generosity plays out in ways as diverse as we are, precisely because giving is about supporting the causes that matter to each of us,” said Council on Foundations President and CEO Kathleen Enright.  “And that diversity enables philanthropy to meet our country’s most pressing challenges again and again. That’s why the Council will always stand for making it easier for everyone to give, not harder.”

“Any argument that it’s discrimination to help women of color gain opportunity in a field where they are underrepresented ignores the history of our nation,” said Independent Sector President and CEO, Dr. Akilah Watkins. “It’s also a blatant attack on the right to expression that the First Amendment affords everyone who gives. Independent Sector is proud to help lead the call for this suit to be dismissed.”

The Council and Independent Sector represent a diverse community that includes grantmakers of all sizes, focus areas, geographies, and increasingly, those who structure their philanthropy in new and creative ways, both in the U.S. and abroad. Both organizations remain committed to protecting philanthropy, in all its forms, as it works toward the greater good.

Download the full brief from the Council's website.

The Council and IS invite philanthropic and nonprofit organizations to sign a sector-wide statement supporting the right for individuals and philanthropies to give in line with their values.


About the Council on Foundations
The Council on Foundations is a nonprofit membership association that serves as a guide for philanthropies as they advance the greater good. Building on our almost 75-year history, the Council supports nearly 900 member organizations in the United States and around the world to build trust in philanthropy, expand pathways to giving, engage broader perspectives and co-create solutions that will lead to a better future for all. Learn more about the Council and become a member by visiting

About Independent Sector
Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs to ensure all people in the United States thrive. Learn more about IS and become a member by visiting

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Public Policy


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Nicole Bronzan

Vice President, Communications and Content