Founded by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the Frontera Fund advocates for human and civil rights, particularly for Hispanic immigrants. They never expected to be activists; they were journalists who had built successful careers. In 2007, they were known for running alternative papers around the company. The Phoenix New Times and the Village Voice were among their publications. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia
It was while they were living in Arizona that they were illegally targeted by Sheriff Arpaio. Arpaio described himself as a tough sheriff, but locals saw disturbing patterns in his conduct. He was a bully who bent the rules. He seemed racist, too, and had a penchant targeting vulnerable Hispanic communities.
Larkin and Lacey never shied away from reporting on Arpaio. They felt that the press is responsible for holding those in power accountable when they step out of line. This led to the sheriff’s department and Phoenix-area prosecutors targeting them.
Arpaio and company took many unusual steps against the Phoenix New Times and its proprietors. They requested invasive information, such as the IP addresses of all website visitors. Larkin and Lacey, committed to the ideal of journalistic freedom, withstood the pressure. They opted for a strategy of total transparency, even publishing the contents of a subpoena.
This angered the authorities. Eventually, in 2007, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were taken from their homes in the dead of night. Ultimately, this was found to be a false arrest. Although they had to wait years to be vindicated, Larkin and Lacey were finally paid a settlement of over $3 million in 2013.
That $3 million became the seed money for the Frontera Fund. After their experiences, Larkin and Lacey were determined to make sure that human and civil rights were being respected in Phoenix. Today, the Frontera Fund supports organizations including the American Immigration Council, Aliento and Promise Arizona.