Philosophical Approach

What We Stand For

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

Statement as of January 20, 2021

Since January 20, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the way this administration is signalling its approach to immigration, to racial justice, and to equity for all.  

We honor the hard work of our incredible grantee partners who have moved the conversation on immigration to where it is today, and who have devised creative approaches to building a larger us. They have worked tirelessly to organize, to tell their own stories and to listen with open hearts to others’ stories. Our grantee partners are building a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational movement to defend and expand democracy for all, and to promote a pluralist society where we all belong. 

The path forward is not well paved or easy. And our work to defend and expand our democracy for all is rooted in a reckoning with the ideology of white supremacy and the white nationalist movement. Along with many other funders, we have signed on to a letter condemning the violence on January 6 and we call on our leaders to protect our democracy. 

We find inspiration and strength in the words of the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, from her poem “In this Place (An American Lyric)”:

There’s a lyric in California
where thousands of students march for blocks,
undocumented and unafraid;
where my friend Rosa finds the power to blossom
in deadlock, her spirit the bedrock of her community.
She knows hope is like a stubborn
ship gripping a dock,
a truth: that you can’t stop a dreamer
or knock down a dream.

How could this not be her city
su nación
our country
our America,
our American lyric to write—
a poem by the people, the poor,
the Protestant, the Muslim, the Jew,
the native, the immigrant,
the black, the brown, the blind, the brave,
the undocumented and undeterred,
the woman, the man, the nonbinary,
the white, the trans,
the ally to all of the above
and more?


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.