Black Lives Matter.

Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, the staff at Utile has been listening, learning, and taking actions to deconstruct systemic racism. 

Our first step was to compile a list of non-profit organizations focused on racism and social justice (see below). Utilians were then asked to vote for the three organizations that would receive donations from Utile, with the firm agreeing to match up to $100 for each contribution made by individuals to any of the organizations below. Black Lives Matter, Equal Justice Initiative, and The Okra Project were selected. As a result of almost 100% participation by Utilians, each organization received donations of $2,166 from the firm. Combined with individual contributions totaling $9,666.75, more than $16K was raised in just a two week period.

These are just our first steps in fighting racism as a firm. We have launched a wholesale review of our policies, office culture, and approach to projects and look forward to continuing the conversation as an office and with our clients and collaborators.

Utilians chose to support the following organizations: 

  1. Black Lives Matter: “#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”

  2. National Bail Out: “National Bail Out is a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration. We are people who have been impacted by cages — either by being in them ourselves or witnessing our families and loved ones be encaged. We are queer, trans, young, elder, and immigrant.”

  3. Black LGBTQIA + Migrant Project (BLMP): “BLMP envisions a world where no one is forced to give up their homeland, where all Black LGBTQIA+ people are free and liberated. We build and center the power of Black LGBTQIA+ migrants to ensure the liberation of all Black people through community-building, political education, creating access to direct services, and organizing across borders. Led by a directly impacted steering committee and staff and housed at the Transgender Law Center and, we build power, community, and knowledge in the U.S., while challenging the role the U.S. plays globally in creating the conditions that force us to leave our homes.”

  4. Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) “is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society” This is also the organization behind the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which “is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence” 

  5. The Okra Project “is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans People wherever we can reach them.  In this spirit, The Okra Project hopes to extend free, delicious, and nutritious meals to Black Trans people experiencing food insecurity.

    Based on individual donations, The Okra Project pays Black Trans chefs to go into the homes of Black Trans people to cook them a healthy and home-cooked meal at absolutely no cost to our Black TGNC siblings. For those Black Trans folks currently experiencing homeless or whose homes cannot support our chef’s cooking, The Okra Project has partnered with institutions like Osborne Association and other community spaces to deliver foods.”

  6. Reclaim the Block “began in 2018 and organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety. We believe health, safety and resiliency exist without police of any kind. We organize around policies that strengthen community-led safety initiatives and reduce reliance on police departments. We do not believe that increased regulation of or public engagement with the police will lead to safer communities, as community testimony and documented police conduct suggest otherwise.” 

  7. Youth Guidance, Becoming a Man “creates and implements school-based programs that enable children to overcome obstacles, focus on their education and, ultimately, to succeed in school and in life. Youth Guidance sees a bright and successful future for every elementary and high school student.  Because we believe that success in school is not only possible but should be achieved and celebrated, we are present in the schools to facilitate an environment that truly engages students in the learning process, and through careful guidance, enables them to realize their full potential and graduate with a meaningful plan for successfully managing life.”

  8. Color of Change “is a progressive nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization. Formed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Color of Change’s goal is to use online resources to strengthen the political voice of African Americans. “We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Our campaigns and initiatives win changes that matter. By designing strategies powerful enough to fight racism and injustice—in politics and culture, in the workplace and the economy, in criminal justice and community life, and wherever they exist—we are changing both the written and unwritten rules of society. We mobilize our members to end practices and systems that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.”

  9. Embrace Race: “As US racial divisions and inequities grow sharper and more painful, the work of envisioning and creating systems of authentic racial inclusion and belonging in the United States remains work in progress. We believe that reversing the trend must begin in our homes, schools, and communities with our children’s hearts and minds. At EmbraceRace, we identify, organize – and, as needed, create – the tools, resources, discussion spaces, and networks we need to meet 4 goals: Nurture resilience in children of color; Nurture inclusive, empathetic children of all stripes; Raise kids who think critically about racial inequity; Support a movement of kid and adult racial justice advocates for all children.”

  10. Sweet Water Foundation “practices Regenerative Neighborhood Development, a creative and regenerative social justice method, that creates safe and inspiring spaces and curates healthy, intergenerational communities that transform the ecology of so-called “blighted” neighborhoods.

    Sweet Water Foundation utilizes a blend of urban agriculture, art, and education to transform vacant spaces and abandoned buildings into economically and ecologically productive and sustainable community assets that produce engaged youth, art, locally-grown food, and affordable housing.

    Since 2014, SWF has created a series of urban acupuncture inspired installations and projects that actively re-story and re-construct a neighborhood located at the nexus of Englewood/Washington Park. Within 5 years, SWF transformed 4-contiguous city blocks into a place known as The Commonwealth – a real-word, physical manifestation of how built spaces reflect and impact understanding of the common, the collective, and the constitutional. SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development, as demonstrated by The Commonwealth, offers a solution-oriented response that pushes the boundaries of blight and shed light on the collective consciousness by making a new lived reality possible.”

  11. The ACLU of Massachusetts “a private, nonpartisan organization with more than 82,000 supporters across the Commonwealth and over 100,000 online activists—is a state affiliate of the national ACLU. We defend the principles enshrined in the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, as well as the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Learn more about the history of the ACLU of Massachusetts, the range of issues we cover, and the national ACLU’s work and history.”

  12. Know Your Rights Camp “a free campaign founded by Colin Kaepernick to raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instructions on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.

    “Our mission is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.”

    Know your rights (10 Po – You have the right to be free, be healthy, be brilliant, be safe, be loved, be courageous, be alive, be trusted, be educated, know your rights.”

  13. The Loveland Foundation “was established in 2018 by Rachel Cargle in response to her widely successful birthday wish fundraiser, Therapy for Black Women and Girls. Her enthusiastic social media community raised over $250,000, which made it possible for Black women and girls nationally to receive therapy support. Black women and girls deserve access to healing, and that healing will impact generations.

    The Loveland Foundation is the official continuation of this effort to bring opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls. Through fellowships, residency programs, listening tours, and more, ultimately we hope to contribute to both the empowerment and the liberation of the communities we serve.”

  14. African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund “to encourage this growing movement, the National Trust and its partners are working to raise $25 million to create and invest in the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund—the largest preservation campaign ever undertaken on behalf of African American history. Our mission: to draw attention to the remarkable stories that evoke centuries of African American activism and achievement, and to tell our nation’s full history.

    Indeed, the stories and places of African American culture and heritage have always existed, but too often have not been fully acknowledged for the integral role they play in the fabric of American society.

    We are committed to crafting a narrative that expands our view of history and, ultimately, begins to reconstruct our national identity, while inspiring a new generation of activists to advocate for our diverse historic places.”

  15. The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) “is a non-profit organization providing technical assistance, consulting, research, and organizational development in the fields of juvenile and criminal justice, youth development, and violence prevention. NICJR provides consultation, program development technical assistance and training to an array of organizations, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, and philanthropic foundations.”

  16. Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness “will radically transform Black Women’s health by creating a world where Black women and girls live long, happy and thriving lives, defined by healthy minds, bodies and spirits.”

  17. National Lawyers Guild “is the nation’s oldest and largest progressive bar association and was the first one in the US to be racially integrated. Our mission is to use law for the people, uniting lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people by valuing human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests. This is achieved through the work of our members, and the Guild’s numerous organizational committees, caucuses and projects, reflecting a wide spectrum of intersectional issues. Guild members effectively network and hone their legal skills in order to help create change at the local, regional, national, and international levels.”

  18. ACLU “dares to create a more perfect union — beyond one person, party, or side. Our mission is to realize this promise of the United States Constitution for all and expand the reach of its guarantees.”

  19. NAACP Legal Defense Fund “is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.”

  20. Planned Parenthood: “In October 2016, Planned Parenthood turned 100 years strong. Planned Parenthood was founded on the revolutionary idea that women should have the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and fulfill their dreams — no ceilings, no limits. Today, Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.” 

  21. Campaign Zero: “Over 1,000 people are killed by police every year in America. We are calling on local, state, and federal lawmakers to take immediate action to adopt data-driven policy solutions to end this violence and hold police accountable.” 

  22. Minnesota Freedom Fund “pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to as we seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing.”