Award for Large Private Foundation: NoVo Foundation
In just the seven years since Jennifer and Peter Buffett established NoVo Foundation, this foundation has become known as an exemplary grantmaker and leader among the country’s large private foundations.
NoVo invests worldwide in systemic change to foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership. To accomplish its mission, the foundation is organized into a set of well-defined strategic initiatives that are linked and complementary. The Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls emphasizes building the capacity of girls to reach their full potential and shifting social and cultural norms so that girls are valued; and the Initiative to End Violence against Girls and Women seeks to achieve long term policy and cultural change, while building the leadership of the most impacted communities. NoVo’s Initiative for Social and Emotional Learning promotes a teaching approach that helps girls and boys develop skills to work well together for success in academics and life. Additionally, NoVo invests domestically in strong local-first movements through its Local Living Economies Initiative (LLE). NoVo’s LLE work connects “consumers with farmers, local investors with local entrepreneurs, and business owners with their employees, neighbors and local eco-systems.”
Much of NoVo’s funding is in support of movement building – because the foundation understands that solving the most intractable problems in the world requires mass mobilization. The foundation provided substantial support, for example, to V-day’s One Billion Rising campaign that has engaged millions of people worldwide in creative efforts to end violence against women and girls. It also runs a ten-year operational program, Move to End Violence, which seeks to strengthen the work of the anti violence movement in the United States, through leadership development, capacity building and alliance building.
NoVo also collaborates with other funders to leverage its investments. It partnered with the Ford Foundation, Nike Foundation, The Elders and others to launch Girls Not Brides, a global effort to eliminate child marriage in one generation. An estimated 14 million children worldwide, a vast majority of whom are girls, are married each year, with catastrophic consequences on their lives and those of their children. Girls Not Brides aims to end child marriage through vigorous, systems-change advocacy involving “a wide range of players, from community organizations on the front lines of the issue to international agencies and governments” in more than 20 countries.
NoVo contributes to organizations that work to change public policies that affect millions of people. One recent example is the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by the U.S. Congress. NoVo gives sizable grants to advocacy groups like the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and others that help build public will for policies that work to end violence against girls and women. Without a strong push from grassroots and policy advocacy organizations like these, it is unlikely that the VAWA reauthorization would have moved forward. Talk about real results!
Peter and Jennifer Buffet accept the 2013 NCRP Impact Award for Large Private Foundation.