Philosophical Approach

What We Stand For

Our core values serve as guideposts that inform all of our work at Unbound.

Migration has always been part of human existence. In recent history in both the US and UK, immigration policy has been characterized by long cycles of opening, in times of relative political consensus and prosperity, and closing, when there are major external threats. Racism, bigotry, and “othering” have been present throughout. Today, some people seek to divide our societies, and to exploit people’s anxieties and suffering. Simultaneously, there is an unprecedented coalescing around a “larger us,” and a yearning and propensity for universal compassion, caring, and connection. We know that the global pandemic we are grappling with will change how we think about the role of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers in our societies, as well as borders, for better and for worse, in the future.

At Unbound Philanthropy, we seek to contribute to a vibrant, welcoming society and an immigration system rooted in justice. We do not have prescriptive answers to what this looks like in practice. What we do have are evergreen values and approaches by which we engage with the world to advance our work. These guide how we support our grantee partners to identify the most innovative, evidence-based, and promising strategies. These also guide how we collaborate with peer philanthropists so that we can multiply our effectiveness in creating an equitable world.

This Is What We Stand For:

At our core, we stand for honoring the dignity of all human beings. We believe all people should have the freedom and opportunity to fulfill their potential and determine how to live their lives.

We stand for engaging with different people, views, and backgrounds related to immigration. We deliberately make connections among activists, organizers, think-tanks, artists, cultural strategists, service-providers, government, and beyondfrom centrist to very liberal— to broaden our perspectives and sharpen our thinking and strategies.

We stand for centering the voices of immigrants, in particular those who are less visible. This includes those who are undocumented, Black, Asian, female, LGBTQ+, and youth. We also acknowledge that there are immigrants whose voices are silenced, such as asylum-seekers in detention, or those whose cases have been rejected and are stuck in limbo. 

We believe in encouraging healthy, respectful, and productive dialogue. We listen to the voices of people who may have concerns about immigration, or anxieties about changes in our communities, so that we can jointly build solutions that work for the whole of society.

We stand for pluralism. We seek to build a culture in which the majority of people in our communities and nations are actively engaged in the hard and delicate work of belonging together in a just society.

We stand for taking an intersectional lens. We know that layered identities of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, and economic, educational, and professional differences can make people more vulnerable within the immigration system and society at large. We acknowledge these complexities and seek to understand them to inform thoughtful solutions.

We believe that the struggles for justice are interconnected. We believe that immigrant justice, our foundation’s focus, is centered in the context of civil rights and human rights, and is part of our global reckoning with racial inequity.

We stand for testing our assumptions and seeking innovation. We believe in rigor, supporting evidence-based approaches, and inviting creativity and flexibility.

And with all of this, we stand tall for partnership and collaboration. We believe that learning, leading, and investing together allows us to leverage intellectual, cultural, and financial resources towards a vibrant society where we can all flourish.

To see how we put these into action, see our Strategic Approach  and our Grantmaking Approach.

Photo: Refugee Week © 2019 Irene Silvera Frischknecht for Refugee Week Leadership Project, courtesy of Counterpoints Arts and IMIX.