More About Funders for a Just Economy

Discount Foundation Legacy Award

Funders for a Just Economy Programming

Future of Work Series

FJE is hosting a series of funder conversations about the Future of Work for those interested in emerging policies and campaign strategies to protect workers by addressing the changing nature of work, the influence of automation and technology, and the shifts within various job sectors. Learn from thought leaders about how they are addressing these issues and how funders can support their efforts. 

Next Call: FJE Future of Work Series - #2: Handy Laws

May 14th, 2018 | 10AM PT / 1PM ET



Palak Shah and Jess Morales of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Becki Smith of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) will discuss the rise of “Handy laws” and their campaigns to defeat them state by state.

“Handy laws" codify into state law that employees classified as independent contractors (many platform workers and “gig economy” workers are classified in this way) are not eligible or required to receive job training, health insurance, or other worker benefits from their employers. Additionally, corporations would not be forced to pay employment taxes for these workers.

According to the recent McKinsey report, as many as 20-30 percent of the working-age population work in some form of independent work, and legislation like the “Handy laws” would strip these workers of benefits and protections under our current labor laws. NDWA, NELP and others are actively advocating against this legislation. Learn how during this call!


2018 FJE Policy Briefing: Evolving Strategies for Worker Justice

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Funders for a Just Economy’s 2018 Policy Briefing will focused on Labor, worker centers, and community partnerships in this era of attacks on workers. We developed a shared analysis of the current state of labor unions and worker centers, and discussed strategies to ensure workers are protected as conditions transform. We also discussed the opportunities for philanthropy to engage Labor, worker centers, and community groups despite these policy erosions through a funder strategy session.

WEBINAR: Strategies to Address How Amazon’s HQ2 Will Impact Workers and Local Economies

November 29, 2017

While tax and other incentives are often used to attract corporations to cities, there is little evidence that these mechanisms improve employment rates and spur economic growth. In fact, these public policies can promote and engender a concentration of power and a monopolization of the market that become drivers of geographic and racial inequality and force local communities to bear the brunt of the loss of revenue without reaping the benefits.

The frenzy surrounding Amazon’s new headquarters’ bidding process sheds light on how corporate incentives are used for more profit under the guise of economic development. Using examples from state and local campaigns to challenge corporate power and hold big corporations accountable to their workforce and communities they operate in, this webinar will explore what the data shows about how corporate incentives can drive down wages and exacerbate existing problems related to poor working conditions and a lack of worker protections and benefits. During the webinar, funders will have the opportunity to strategize about how to resource the movement to curb Amazon’s impact and support movement building and grassroots organizing across the country.

FJE Alabama Learning Tour

November 6-8, 2017

On November 6-8, Neighborhood Funders Group's Funders for a Just Economy brought funders from across the US to Alabama to meet with local and regional funders, community organizations, unions and worker centers to experience, appreciate, and learn about the movement building strategies workers and communities are implementing to advocate for economic justice. Funders learned about the immense history, culture, and narrative story of the people of Alabama and how this rich history connects to current campaigns and resistance efforts with low-wage workers, women, immigrants and communities of color leading the charge. FJE also explored how people have built power and economic stability through economic models that shift assets to community members, and traditionally unorganized and migrant workers.

WEBINAR: New Southern Strategies Report: Employment, Workers’ Rights and the Prospects for Regional Resurgence

October 3, 2017

The New Southern Strategies: Employment, Workers’ Rights and the Prospects for Regional Resurgence report assesses economic indicators affecting quality of life in the South and examines corporate strategies that are driving these changes. It presents some of the efforts underway in the region to improve the quality of economic opportunity through labor organizing and strengthening workers’ rights, focusing on the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

What will it take to win successful economic justice campaigns in the South? With many families facing chronically low wages and economic insecurity, an understanding and attention to the political economy of the South can help funders and field organizations develop successful intervention strategies. Speakers shared highlights from the report, examined how the history of systemic racism has maintained corporate power and limited efforts to improve workers' rights, and discussed how recent unionization efforts in Tennessee and Mississippi impact the outlook for future organizing nationwide.

2017 FJE Policy Briefing: The Road Ahead for Worker Justice

May 18-19, 2017


For many years, FJE has held a yearly policy briefing to engage its members on specific policy issues that affect middle and low-income workers. In a fundamentally shifting political and power map, this year’s policy briefing, held on May 18th and 19th updated members with our current understanding of the major forces and players that impact worker justice.

FJE members engaged in strategic conversations about the decline of organized labor, economic discrimination based on migration status and gender, the future of work, emerging state and local policy and advocacy campaigns, and how to leverage and build power through movement building, cross-issue collaborations, litigation strategies, and community organizing.

2017 Discount Legacy Awards


The Discount Foundation Legacy Award celebrates the remarkable contributions to the movement by a worker justice hero. Awardees receive a $20,000 stipend to provide them flexibility to expand on their professional activities and achievements in the absence of reporting requirements or other specific obligations. The 2017 Award winner is Luna Ranjit, co-founder of Adhikaar and the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition.

Luna Ranjit's work is rooted in the community. For more than a decade, Luna guided Adhikaar's programs, research, policy advocacy, and partnerships, building visibility and power for the emerging Nepali-speaking immigrant community. As a co-founder of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition, she helped lead the way for the sweeping changes to improve working conditions in the nail salon industry. She also served on the advisory board of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salons Alliance. Luna has been quoted and featured in print and broadcast media on the issues related to workers’ rights, immigrant rights, language justice, and civic engagement. Her groundbreaking work has been recognized by many community organizations and elected officials. In 2016, she received the Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize created to support and inspire innovative social change makers throughout the world.

Regulatory Enforcement & Corporate Misconduct

In 2016, the Bauman Foundation and Bob Shull of Public Welfare Foundation hosted a funder briefing on new developments in enforcement and corporate accountability. Participants tested out the Violation Tracker database, a powerful and insightful tool created by Good Jobs First that pulls together enforcement data from the Department of Labor, EPA, and other government agencies to allow real insight into companies that break the law. Good Jobs First is continuing to track labor law violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and NLRB back pay awards through their database.

Black Worker Organizing Project

In 2015, Columbia University hosted the second annual State of Black Workers in America Conference in New York City. Here, two groundbreaking reports were launched:  And Still I Rise: Black Women Labor Leaders’ Voices, Power and Promisea photo-journalistic report written by Kimberly Freeman Brown designed to engage black women labor leaders and activists in exploring ways to leverage their organizing expertise for the preservation of the labor movement and the economic advancement of the black community; and #BlackWorkersMatter, a cutting edge report on the state of black worker organizing around the country, highlighting efforts to organize black workers and address the particular barriers to employment and economic security faced by people of African descent in the U.S.

Members of Funders for a Just Economy (then known as the Working Group on Labor and Community Partnerships) supported the creation of these reports, and will continue to support the promotion of the reports and organizing work featured in them through a series of regional meeting across the country for funders (stayed tuned for details). The working group hosted a webinar, Black Workers Rising: A Conversation with the Neighborhood Funders Group, in which NFG members heard directly from the report authors, Kimberly Freeman Brown and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, and Marc Bayard, head of the Black Worker Initiative at the Institute of Policy Studies.