Philanthropy Responds to Inhumane Family Separation and Detention Policies

Nearly 120 philanthropic institutions from across the country have signed onto a joint statement in support of children and families seeking refuge in the United States.

In an effort to punish immigrants crossing the Southern border of the United States, the current administration adopted a so-called “zero-tolerance” policy against those seeking entry, resulting in the separation of children from their parents. This policy is the latest in a series of actions over the past year-and-a-half that have altered how we treat migrants seeking refuge at our borders and reversed our historical role as a beacon of hope and freedom for the world’s most vulnerable people.

In response to widespread public outcry, the administration recently issued an executive order that would allow it to detain family members together indefinitely. Detaining children indefinitely—either with or without their parents—not only violates existing law, but it also runs counter to long-established best practices and norms in the child welfare arena as well as basic tenets of morality and human decency.

As of this statement’s publication, more than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s own statistics. These parents are still languishing in immigration detention without information about the whereabouts of their children, including many under the age of four, while others are at risk of permanently losing custody after being deported without their children against their will. The newly issued executive order on family detention does nothing to reunite these separated children with their parents.

Family separation is causing profound trauma for both children and parents rising to the level of a “crisis of sorrow.” Mothers have described hearing their children’s screams from the next room after being separated, and at least one parent has committed suicide after his child was taken away from him. The United Nations considers the practice “a serious violation of the rights of the child,” the American Bar Association calls it “inhumane,” and the American Psychological Association believes it is “needless and cruel.” The American Academy of Pediatrics condemns the practice, explaining that the resulting fear and stress can harm children’s developing brains as well as short- and long-term health.

We, the undersigned, stand united in our belief that separating families, as well as detaining them together indefinitely, is morally unacceptable and traumatic for parents and children. We have a collective responsibility to act with compassion when responding to the needs of those who come to our country seeking protection. We urge our grantmaking colleagues to join us in speaking out, shifting the public discourse locally and nationally, boldly taking action, and responding generously and swiftly to on-the-ground needs.

Together, we stand firm in shared values of fairness, compassion, and family integrity that underpin our work in philanthropy and our very identity as a nation.


James D. McDonough, Executive Director
Alphawood Foundation Chicago
Chicago, IL

Amy Mandel, Founder & Chief Visionary Officer
The Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund 
Asheville, NC

James E. Canales, President & Trustee
Barr Foundation
Boston, MA

Gary D. Bass, Executive Director
Bauman Foundation
Washington, DC

Peter Long, President & CEO
Blue Shield of California Foundation 
San Francisco, CA

Paul Grogan, President & CEO
The Boston Foundation
Boston, MA

Cecilia Clarke, CEO & Kaberi Banerjee Murthy, VP of Programs
Brooklyn Community Foundation
Brooklyn, NY

Christopher Punongbayan, Executive Director
California ChangeLawyers (formerly California Bar Foundation)

Antonia Hernandez, President & CEO
California Community Foundation
Los Angeles, CA

Robert K. Ross, MD, President & CEO
The California Endowment

Judy Belk, President & CEO
The California Wellness Foundation

Tom Chavez, President & CEO
Chavez Family Foundation 
San Francisco, CA

K. Sujata, President & CEO
Chicago Foundation for Women
Chicago, IL

Mailee Walker, Executive Director
Andrea Bretting, Senior Program Officer
Karen Race, Grants & Communications Manager
The Claneil Foundation
Plymouth Meeting, PA

Cynthia G. Addams, Chief Executive Officer
The Collins Foundation
Portland, OR

Ned Calonge, MD, MPH, President & CEO
The Colorado Trust
Denver, CO

Ellen Friedman, Executive Director
Compton Foundation 
San Francisco, CA

Monica George, President, and Leslie Ramyk, Executive Director
Conant Family Foundation 
Chicago, IL

Rev. Mary K. “Kaki” Friskics-Warren, Executive Director
Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund
Nashville, TN

Jennifer Leith, Executive Director
The Douty Foundation
Philadelphia, PA

Esther Morales, Strategic Initiatives Consultant
The Emergent Fund* 
San Francisco, CA

Nicky Goren, President & CEO
Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation
Washington, DC

Monique B. Jones, President & CEO
Evanston Community Foundation 
Evanston, IL

Jennie Lehua Watson, President
Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
San Francisco, CA

Sandor Straus, President
Firedoll Foundation
Walnut Creek, CA

Suzette Brooks Masters
Flower Hill Fund at the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation 
Sheffield, MA

Darren Walker, President
Ford Foundation 
New York, NY

Nicky McIntyre, CEO
Foundation for a Just Society 
New York, NY

Jacqueline Jones, President & CEO
Foundation for Child Development 
New York, NY

Flozell Daniels, Jr., President & CEO
Foundation for Louisiana 
Baton Rouge, LA

Anita Khashu, Director
Four Freedoms Fund 
New York, NY

Ed Whitfield and Marnie Thompson, Co-Managing Directors
Fund for Democratic Communities 
Greensboro, NC

Marcos Vargas, Executive Director
Fund for Santa Barbara 
Santa Barbara, CA

Kristina Wertz, Acting President
Funders for LGBTQ Issues
New York, NY

Dimple Abichandani, Executive Director
General Service Foundation
Berkeley, CA

Barbara and Tom Sargent, Advisors
The Global Whole Being Fund – Caring for Humanity on the Move
San Rafael, CA

Ramón Murguía, Board Chair
The Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund 
Kansas City, MO

Vanessa Daniel, Executive Director
Groundswell Fund 
Oakland, CA

Leslie Dorosin and Rebekah Saul Butler, Co-Executive Directors
The Grove Foundation 
Los Altos, CA

David Nicholson, Executive Director
Headwaters Foundation for Justice
Minneapolis, MN

Kristen Keely-Dinger, President & CEO
The Healing Trust 
Nashville, TN

Bridget McCandless, MD, President & CEO
Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City 
Kansas City, MO

Grant Oliphant, President
The Heinz Endowments
Pittsburgh, PA

Deanna Gomby, President & CEO
Heising-Simons Foundation 
Los Altos, CA

Nat Chioke Williams, Ph.D., Executive Director
Hill-Snowdon Foundation 
Washington, DC

Ana Marie Argilagos, President & CEO
Hispanics In Philanthropy 
United States & Americas

Roger Doughty, President
Horizons Foundation 
San Francisco, CA

Ann B. Stern, President & CEO
Houston Endowment
Houston, TX

Kate Vickery, MPA, MSCRP, Executive Director
Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative 
Houston, TX

Randy Newcomb, President & CEO
Humanity United 
San Francisco, CA

Jocelyn Sargent, Executive Director
The Hyams Foundation 
Boston, MA

Don Howard, President & CEO
The James Irvine Foundation

Michael Lerner, President
Jennifer Altman Foundation 
San Francisco, CA

Rip Rapson, President & CEO
The Kresge Foundation
Troy, MI

Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO
Latino Community Foundation 
San Francisco, CA

Carlos Martinez, Executive Director
Latino Community Foundation of Colorado
Denver, CO

Gilda “Gigi” Pedraza, Executive Director
Latino Community Fund Georgia
Atlanta, GA

James S. Farley, President & CEO
Leichtag Foundation 
Encinitas, CA

Shane Goldsmith, President & CEO
Liberty Hill Foundation 
Los Angeles, CA

Crystal Hayling, Executive Director
The Libra Foundation
San Francisco, CA

Luz Vega-Marquis, President & CEO
Marguerite Casey Foundation 
Seattle, WA

Justin Maxson, Executive Director
Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation 
Winston Salem, NC

Amber French, Executive Director, and amalia deloney, Program Director
Media Democracy Fund 
Washington, DC

Jeannie Blaustein, Ph.D., D. Ministry, President
Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation
Baltimore, MD

Nick Donohue, President & CEO
Nellie Mae Education Foundation 
Quincy, MA

Michele Lord, President
NEO Philanthropy 
New York, NY

Maria Mottola, Executive Director
New York Foundation
New York, NY

Kevin F. Walker, President & CEO
Northwest Area Foundation
St. Paul, MN

Nicole Maher, President & CEO
Northwest Health Foundation 
Portland, OR

Pamela Shifman, Executive Director
NoVo Foundation 
New York, NY

Stephen King, Partner; Global Lead, Governance & Citizen Engagement
Omidyar Network
Redwood City, CA

Patrick Gaspard, President
Open Society Foundations 
New York, NY

Valerie Kind-Rubin, Managing Trustee
The Patricia Kind Family Foundation
Philadelphia, PA

Ada Sanchez, Executive Director
Peppercorn Foundation 
Tampa, FL

Aly Richards, CEO
The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children
Burlington, VT

Pedro A. Ramos, President & CEO
The Philadelphia Foundation
Philadelphia, PA

Bill Somerville, President
Philanthropic Ventures Foundation
Oakland, CA

Gillian Darlow, Chief Executive Officer
Polk Bros. Foundation
Chicago, IL

Pamela Petre Reis, President
The Reis Foundation 
Rolling Hills, CA

Jennifer Sousae, Executive Director
RHE Charitable Foundation
San Francisco, CA

Wes Moore, CEO
Robin Hood
New York, NY

Timothy Silard, President
Rosenberg Foundation
San Francisco, CA

Alfred L. Castle, CEO & Treasurer
The Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation 
Honolulu, HI

Sarah Martinez-Helfman, President
Samuel S. Fels Fund
Philadelphia, PA

Fred Blackwell, CEO
The San Francisco Foundation
San Francisco, CA

Joe Pyle, President
Scattergood Foundation
Philadelphia, PA

John H. Jackson, President & CEO
Schott Foundation for Public Education 
Cambridge, MA

Ann Alpers, President
S. H. Cowell Foundation
San Francisco, CA

Erica Wood, Chief Impact Officer
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Mountain View, CA

Amanda Cloud, President & CEO
The Simmons Foundation 
Houston, TX

Thomas Keith, President
Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina 
Columbia, SC

Mijo Lee, Executive Director
Social Justice Fund NW
Seattle, WA

Priscilla Kersten, President
Square One Foundation 
Chicago, IL

Molly Gochman, Founder
Stardust Fund 
Houston, TX

Fo-Ching Lu, President
SYL Foundation
Redmond, WA

Kriss Deiglmeier, CEO
Tides Foundation 
San Francisco, CA 

Rye Young, Executive Director
Third Wave Fund 
Brooklyn, NY & Chicago, IL

Taryn Higashi, Executive Director
Unbound Philanthropy
New York, NY

Sigrid Lundby, President
Union Benevolent Association
Philadelphia, PA

Nancy Wiltsek, Executive Director
van Löben Sels/RembeRock Foundation
San Francisco, CA  

Jan Vilcek, Chairman & CEO
The Vilcek Foundation
New York, NY

Robert N. DiLeonardi, Executive Director
VNA Foundation
Chicago, IL 

Stacie Ma’a, President
Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
Berkeley, CA

Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director
Wallace Global Fund
Washington, DC

Fred Ali, President & CEO
Weingart Foundation
Los Angeles, CA

Regina McGraw, Executive Director
Wieboldt Foundation 
Chicago, IL

Adam Gamoran, President and Vivian Tseng, Senior Vice President, Program
William T. Grant Foundation 
New York, NY

La June Montgomery Tabron, President & CEO
W.K. Kellogg Foundation 
Battle Creek, MI

Jo Ann Intili and Edward Kissam, Trustees
WKF Giving Fund 
Oakland, CA

Surina Khan, CEO
Women’s Foundation of California 
Oakland, CA

Grace Hou, President
Woods Fund Chicago
Chicago, IL

Robert Uyeki, CEO
Y&H Soda Foundation
Moraga, CA

Merryl Snow Zegar and Charles Zegar, Trustees
Zegar Family Foundation
New York, NY

Allison Magee, Executive Director
Zellerbach Family Foundation
San Francisco, CA

Philanthropy-Supporting Organizations, Consultants & Other Groups

Cora Mirikitani, President & CEO
AAPIP – Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy 
Oakland, CA

Janet Gumbs, Acting President & CEO
ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities 
New York, NY

Phil Buchanan, President
The Center for Effective Philanthropy
Cambridge, MA & San Francisco, CA

Carly Hare, National Director/Coalition Catalyst
CHANGE Philanthropy 
Oakland, CA

Marcela Davison Avilés, Benjamím Juarez Echenique and Marisa Canales, Co-Founders
The Chapultepec Group & Camino Arts 
Alamo, CA

Corrie Wallace, Founder/Lead Consultant
Corrie LLC
Evanston, IL

Tory Dietel Hopps, Managing Partner
Dietel & Partners 
Yarmouth, ME

Shannon L. Rudisill, Executive Director
Early Childhood Funders Collaborative 
Washington, DC

Patricia Smith, President & CEO, and Tom Woiwode, Board of Directors Chair
Funders’ Network for Smarth Growth and Livable Communities
Miami, FL

Claudia Jasso, Founder & Managing Partner
Jasso Development & Planning, LLC 
Tucson, AZ

Steering Committee and Staff
Justice Funders
Oakland, CA

Aaron Dorfman, President & CEO
National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Washington, DC

Dennis Quirin, President
Neighborhood Funders Group 
Oakland, CA

Christine Essel, President & CEO (SCG)
Nancy Jamison, President & CEO (SDG)
Ellen LaPointe, President & CEO (NCG)
Philanthropy CA

Lori Villarosa, Executive Director
Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity 

Iimay Ho, Executive Director
Resource Generation
New York, NY

Susan Eaton, Director
Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy 
Waltham, MA

David Biemesderfer, President & CEO
United Philanthropy Forum 
Washington, DC

Richard Marker, Founder/Co-Principal
Wise Philanthropy Institute

Donna Hall, President & CEO
Women Donors Network 
San Francisco, CA

Cynthia Nimmo, President & CEO
Women’s Funding Network 
San Francisco, CA