Innovation and The Trust Fund

We've talked a lot around here about the financial model The Trust Fund is based on. Today, I want to take a step back and tell you a little bit about how we got here.

After seeing Dawn Porter's documentary Trapped, I was immediately moved to action. The film outlines the barriers to healthcare access that targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws impose on clinics and patients. I was outraged. Politicians parade these laws as a necessary safety regulation publicly, while privately disclosing their actual intent- to regulate abortion so much that it becomes inaccessible and, effectively illegal. 

In the minutes it took to leave the theater and board the train home, my anger, organizing background, and MBA education clicked together to form the beginnings of The Trust Fund. It has been just about a year and The Trust Fund has come a long way since that Kendall Square screening.

Since then, I've been fortunate to participate in a fellowship program, deepening my understanding of what I want The Trust Fund to be and how to make it the most effective tool. Without CoreAlign and a good friend, The Trust Fund would have died on the red line.

Instead, I spent the last year engaged in innovation and radical thinking. It has been a transforming experience and The Trust Fund is stronger for it. First, let's talk about the test case. As we've recently recapped, it's not quite as successful as I thought it would be, but that's okay. This is a prototype and it's not perfect. Without an introduction to design thinking the test case would have been the final product. I would have picked one ETF, opened it up to the public, and the thing would have tanked. Design thinking let me take a little risk to test out if funding abortion through the market is even feasible. But engaging with a wide swath of movement leaders in designing change, forced me to take a critical eye to The Trust Fund. My cohort made me engage with my end users- other abortion funds- and build those relationships. We talked about sustainability in all forms and what it would mean to have a renewable funding resource to help funds help more people.  And most importantly, they forced me to face difficult aspects of my model - how do I morally justify investing in Wall Street and corporate America when these institutions have long documented histories of abuse and exclusion of the communities I am seeking to help?

 The perfect spot for innovating

The perfect spot for innovating

That's an excellent question, and I have some info on that. The short answer is, the next iteration of The Trust Fund will be open to the public and will be different than the test case. We're pulling the ETF and reinvesting in individual stocks and bonds that are socially responsible and demonstrate a commitment to racial and economic justice. When we really get up and running, The Trust Fund will be more than an abortion fund for abortion funds- we envision a space that brings finance folks and movement people together in community to grow a base of support for abortion funding, with conferences and "lunch and learn" sessions to share knowledge from both worlds. Understanding that the world of finance is off limits to so many people (and again, part of that is by design- these systems are structured to consolidate power for those "in the know" and deliberately restrict access to the wealth potential that exists there) and knowing that economic justice is reproductive justice, means we have a responsibility to break down the barrier between Main Street and Wall Street. Through several activities (most notably, a 100 question game and  a full afternoon of prototyping other ways for me to fund abortion), I landed on an expanded understanding of the type of impact I wanted to make. These activities also pushed me to  see the interconnectedness of reproductive activism. Starting a fund was never going to be enough to create a sustainable model of funding for abortion. I knew this but couldn't see it. Design thinking helped me see the impacted I wanted and helped me plan for it.

 

Before I close out my post,  I want to thank my CoreAlign cohort for pushing me to think beyond my one, narrow idea of what The Trust Fund could be, and get to a place where my abortion fund can be a community building powerhouse. I'm so excited to truly disrupt capitalist structures with all of you!

P.S. If you're interested in working with CoreAlign (I definitely recommend it!), you can find out more here.