Meet the foundations that took home NCRP Impact Awards
Founded in 1956, Needmor Fund is widely recognized in the world of social justice philanthropy. This small family foundation is driven by its mission, “to work with others to bring about social justice,” with increasing democratic participation as its core vision and value.
Needmor invests in multi-issue, membership-based, direct action community organizations that enable low-income communities to participate fully in the democratic process and make decisions affecting their lives. The fund offers general operating and multi-year grants that support leadership development and build the capacity and power of grantees.
One of its grantees is Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO), which ran one of the largest data-driven c3 voter engagement programs in Missouri and Kansas in 2014. In a field that often relies on paid canvassers, CCO successfully executed a volunteer-led voter engagement campaign called Dignity Votes 2014, which focused on bringing back drop-off voters of color and religious voters.
The message of “dignity” focused on issues impacting local communities such as health care access, payday loan reform, improving education, violence prevention and economic opportunity. Additionally, Dignity Votes integrated a Let My People Vote campaign message in Kansas, where over 20,000 voters were disenfranchised due to restrictive photo ID laws.
Utilizing a train-the trainer approach, CCO engaged hundreds of volunteers in both Missouri (Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties) and Kansas (Wyandotte County). The leaders CCO trained were equipped to drive their own decentralized and localized voter contact programs rooted in indigenous concerns and a long-term strategy for change across the metro region. Through phone calls and door-to-door canvassing, thousands of potential voters expressed strong support for public policies that promote economic dignity and access to opportunity. The message was clear: Dignity Matters and Dignity Votes!
In addition to funding community organizing, Needmor maximizes its endowment through mission investing, ensuring that its portfolio reflects its values. It also uses stock shares to challenge unjust corporate policies, and allows community organizations to use proxies to leverage their issues with large companies and banks. The foundation also invests in local and regional community development funds that provide needed capital for projects in underserved regions of the country.