Our organizations, The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing and The Hyams Foundation, are movement funders that share a common set of assumptions about the nature of power and the role that progressive philanthropy must play in defending democracy. As women of color and leaders of movement foundations, we are preoccupied with the question: What role should progressive philanthropy play in responding to the rise of repressive, authoritarian policies that threaten the lives and well-being of the communities we are accountable to?

We hope that readers are similarly preoccupied.

We maintain that racial and economic justice movements need political power to block right-wing attacks on multiracial democracy and to win governing power that can transform systems and build deep democracy.

Philanthropy needs more movement funders who stand on the side of racial and economic justice and who take direction from the movement-led forces working to expand democracy. We can do this by changing our practices in fundamental ways and aligning our grantmaking and investments with movement-identified strategies.

What’s Our Role?

At The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO), our mandate is to advance leadership nationally in the youth-organizing field and develop its capacity as a power-building force within social justice movements to transform social and economic conditions and advance lasting structural change. Youth-led and intergenerational organizing is our movement terrain. To succeed, we know that our work—which includes everything from resource mobilization to capacity building, political education, and funder organizing—must be grounded in a clear vision built in partnership with leaders in the youth-organizing field.

In 2018, leaders from organizations including Power U Center for Social ChangePODER In Action, and Youth United for Change came together to identify the primary challenges that hinder the ability of the youth-organizing field to build meaningful power. Following a power-mapping session where they assessed their relative influence, these organizations called on FCYO to lean into our unique position as a funding intermediary and play a role in cohering this sector of the movement ecosystem. We were not entirely sure what that meant, but knew we had to try.

Fast-forward five years and we have learned a great deal about building a movement ecosystem and the importance of assessment, experimentation, and failure. Our success is not solely based on the amount of money we can move. It is also measured by our ability to assess conditions and create resourcing strategies that strengthen relationships and build a more powerful, strategic, and aligned youth-organizing field. We do this by curating an environment of discovery, offering organizations in our cohorts the ability to dream, test, fail, and adapt, again and again, until we win.

Read the full article about building political power by Mónica Córdova and Lisa Owens at Stanford Social Innovation Review.