Meet the foundations we will honor at the 2019 NCRP Impact Awards in Seattle
Since 2001, Marguerite Casey Foundation has nurtured a movement led by low-income families advocating for change by providing substantial long-term grants that cross issues, regions, egos, politics, organizational turf, race and ethnicity.
Families do not experience poverty one issue at a time, but instead face a spectrum of issues. The foundation funds organizations that work on issues across that spectrum, from health care and voting rights to employment and child care.
In California, for example, grantee members of the Bay Area Equal Voice Coalition worked together to secure a statewide living wage that did not hurt parents and child care workers.
Even a modest wage increase could threaten critical child care subsidies. This success is just one example of the need for multi-racial and multi-issue networks led by low-income families working for collective action.
As the foundation has evolved, it has never wavered from its model, which supports a movement infrastructure from the ground up.
Families stand at the heart of this model, which fosters conditions for them to lead and for cornerstone organizations with deep roots in communities to work across issues as networks for sustained systems change.
The foundation listens to families and communities and then takes action based on what they share, following its brand promise to “Ask, Listen, Act.”
Marguerite Casey Foundation’s work is also guided by a National Family Platform, which was created by low-income families and reflects the spectrum of interrelated issues that they face. We know families experiencing poverty do not lead single-issue lives.
It is a truly grassroots approach that supports families, organizations and advocates without directing them, and empowers them instead of providing ever-shifting mandates.
The work is about investing in people, not programs, for broad social and economic equity. The strategy is based on trust and the understanding that every family has value and no family should live in poverty.
The foundation’s approach stands in contrast to traditional practices in philanthropy, such as issue-specific funding that addresses one aspect of poverty at the expense of others and top-down practices that can limit potential for autonomous action. Instead, we provide funding in the areas of advocacy, activism and education.
For close to 2 decades, the foundation has made sizeable, long-term general support grants. The average grantee has been part of its grantmaking portfolio for more than 8 years, and many grantees have received general support since 2002.
Marguerite Casey Foundation remains committed to its grantmaking model and thus far has invested $450 million in low-income communities around the nation.
The foundation’s impact is clear in the 5 indicators it employs to assess progress in movement building: Movement Infrastructure, Leadership Development, Networks, Public Policy and Impact on Families.
Around the country, grantees support the leadership of families. Grantees have worked with tens of thousands of core leaders who regularly advocate for their community and whose passion ignites their work. Between 2015 and 2017, almost 60 million people were educated about issues that affect their communities.
Funding a family-led movement means helping organizations develop and maintain strong infrastructures – including well-trained staff, modern technology and strategic communications – that ensure sustainable action.
Long-term and unrestricted funding helps cornerstone organizations strengthen their financial positions. Almost 90% of grantees worked to protect and stabilize their organizations by building reserves and 71% ran operating surpluses in 2017.
Strong grantees are working with the growing base of families leading the strategies and movement that are creating change in their communities. In 2017, more than 2 million members of grantee organizations were active at public meetings, campaigns and other public actions.
Equal Voice Networks are central to the foundation’s strategy. Networks connect families and grantees across issues and communities. These multi-issue alliances empower grassroots nonprofits and community leaders to set collective priorities and share resources.
Since 2009, Equal Voice Networks have expanded from 2 to 16, driving changes around the country. Families and grantees have led successful campaigns for new policies, from reforms in the criminal justice system to raising state minimum wages.
Marguerite Casey Foundation’s model was once considered a radical idea. Today, the success of its movement-building model to support low-income families is not only viable – it’s necessary to build a just and equitable society for all.
The foundation’s story is one of making a road by walking, and we call on more foundations to walk with us. Together we will show change is possible – change by families and for families.
Meet all the grantmakers we are honoring in Seattle.Learn More
Meet the foundations that took home NCRP Impact Awards.Learn More
You, too, can practice smart philanthropy that empowers communities and produce tangible results.Learn More
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