Fearless Fund Amicus Brief

Philanthropic donations support our communities in ways that mirror our values, playing a key role in promoting civic engagement. We believe – and the courts have ruled – that philanthropic organizations and individuals have the right to exercise their views through giving, as protected by the First Amendment. That includes efforts to support historically marginalized groups.

That’s why the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector have filed an 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 has sued the foundation, claiming that its program for Black female entrepreneurs is racially discriminatory. However, any argument that it is discrimination to help Black women gain opportunity in a field where they are underrepresented ignores the history of our nation, as well as the purpose of the charitable sector. Read a full summary of the case.

Our amicus brief, filed December 12, 2023, argues that the Fearless Foundation's grant program is protected under the First Amendment because courts have held that a decision to donate to certain causes is expressive conduct, which is constitutionally protected speech.

Download the full brief, or read the press release on our filing.

The court should 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.

The Council and Independent Sector are committed to protecting the rights of philanthropic organizations, charitable nonprofits, and individual donors, and making it easier for people to give, across all dimensions of society, not harder. We invite organizations to join us by signing our statement to support philanthropy.


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