More About Funders for a Just Economy

Discount Foundation Legacy Award

Funders for a Just Economy Programming


Upcoming Groundbreaking Reports on Workplace Law Centers and Southern Strategies

The WGLCP will lead a project to commission a paper on workplace law centers. In the tradition of the landmark 2006 report written by Janice Fine, on Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream, this project will provide a survey the existing landscape and significance of community legal groups dedicated to labor issues. The Ford Foundation has also sponsored an upcoming report by Nik Theodor on worker organizing in the south to be released later this year.  This work explore economic/workforce challenges prevalent in the south, how it functions as a testing ground for both structural exploitation, and an exciting center of innovative organizing strategies that use a broader, civil rights frame in partnership with labor. WGLCP and Grantmakers for Southern Progress will collaborate to promote this report through its networks.


Black Worker Organizing Project: Bay Area Briefing Success Story

The Bay Area Regional Briefing of the Black Worker Organizing Project held in November 2015 was a huge success, with over 30 funders participating and resulting in new support for the new Bay Area Black Worker Center. Big thanks to Luke Newton, Senior Program Officer at the Common Counsel Foundation, Lateefah Simon, Program Director at the Rosenberg Foundation, and Carmen Rojas, CEO of the Workers Lab for making this event possible! 


Hawai’i Learning Tour Success

The WGLCP pulled off the Hawai’i Learning Tour, last November (2015) with flying colors ! It included 29 funders from the following foundations: Solidago Foundation, Ms. Foundation for Women, Hill-Snowdon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, Hawaii People's Fund, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, Open Society Foundations, The California Endowment, Consuelo Foundation, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Native Americans in Philanthropy, and the Learning Coalition Hawai’i Community Foundation. Check out this short video of the tour to see what it was all about, produced by INPEACE and the Digital Storytellers, a local Native Hawaiian organization that accompanied us.


Discount Legacy Awards

In the last quarter of 2015, the NFG, WGLCP, and Jobs with Justice began organizing a Discount Legacy Awards program to award outstanding leaders in the field of economic justice with an individual cash prize to continue their work. The selected awardee will be granted a $20,000 stipend, providing them with the flexibility to expand on their work. As part of an already powerful and lasting legacy, the Discount Foundation supported the establishment of an awards program that will recognize a worker leader each year for the next decade.  WGLCP members are participating in the nomination process and use this process to uplift the field of worker justice. Over 30 nominations were submitted to the Selection Committee, which includes Rubie Coles, Deputy Director at the Moriah Fund, Alejandra Ibañez, Lead Program Officer at the Woods Fund, and Laine Romero-Alston, Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, who are currently going through the incredibly difficult process of choosing a winner. The winner of the 2016 Discount Legacy Award will be honored at the Jobs With Justice Education Fund’s 12th annual Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards Celebration on February 12, 2016 in Washington, DC at the Jobs With Justice National Conference.


Future of Work Symposium

Several WGLCP members attended the Department of Labor's symposium on December 10th, 2015 about the evolving nature of employment relationships for many Americans — in both high and low-tech sectors. See here for a transcript of the remarks made by Secretary Tom Perez, and here for a good twitter recap of the discussions. 


NFG National Convening: Philanthropic Strategies for People, Place and Power. June 14-16, 2016, Oakland, CA 

As you may have read in an earlier update, the WGLCP, through your participation, has helped to prioritize worker issues at this year’s Convening. For some of the sessions at the Convening, we have recommended some of you as a presenter or someone who can help in co-design based on the ideas you submitted or your expertise. Below you’ll find more details on next steps for these sessions.The Conference Planning Committee is developing a detailed agenda, and it will include 12 sessions, 3 plenaries, and 4-5 off-site learning tours in the local area. Some of you will be hearing from the Session Designers in the upcoming weeks regarding various conference program activities, based on our recommendations to the Program Committee. We really want to make sure that worker/work and economic justice related sessions (either that you are helping to design or organize) are seen as WGLCP shaped sessions so the broader membership is aware of what great work we do together! Please let us know how we can help you get more involved in developing sessions. 


Regulatory Enforcement & Corporate Misconduct

Just last week, the Bauman Foundation and Bob Shull of Public Welfare Foundation hosted funder briefing on new developments in enforcement and corporate accountability. Participants tested out the new Violation Tracker database (try it for yourself – very insightful!), a powerful 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. The Center for Effective Government  also presented a new report that focuses on corporate accountability for the chemical industry. Presenters included Arun Ivatury, SEIU; Rob Weissman, Public Citizen; Katherine McFate and Brian Gumm, Center for Effective Government; and Greg LeRoy and Phil Mattera, Good Jobs First.


WGLCP Strategic Planning 

The WGLCP is embarking on a strategic planning process as it enters its milestone 20th year in 2016. To help us look forward to our next years together, Beth Grupp & Associates will be partnering with us to take stock, reassess, and plan to continue and build upon our body of work and lead the field in economic justice philanthropy. Beth and her team will be reaching out to our members to learn more about where we want to go and how we can best use this network.


Contingent Workforce Funder Discussion, December 11, 2015 Washington DC

Emma Oppenheim, Program Officer, Open Society Foundations, and her funder colleagues at the September Chicago site visit reignited a discussion among her peers about the contingent workforce, reflecting on the latest developments in policy, organizing, advocacy, research, communications, and private sector targeting. Funders are invited to learn more and align strategies on December 11, from 12 - 3pm at the Public Welfare Foundation. Bob Shull will be our host. Contact Valeria Velazquez  ( for more information. 


Annual WGLCP Policy Briefing

 On April 23 -24, 2015, the WGLCP held its annual two-day policy briefing at the Public Welfare Foundation in Washington, DC. It was well-attended with about 60 funders and speakers engaged in discussions on a wide range of policy issues related to workers’ rights, economic justice and labor. Mary Beth Maxwell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, United States Department of Labor, delivered the keynote address an described current initiatives and labor market trends.  Plenary sessions focused on wage theft enforcement and other economic justice efforts; a review of policy trends of the past year; an economic agenda for black workers; the future of of work; immigration policy and organizing; building social justice resilience again opposition attacks; and an analysis of the Election Year 2016. Strategy breakouts provided an opportunity for funders, organizers and advocates to have deeper discussions battling wage theft and strengthening enforcement through co-production of labor standards enforcement as well as innovative policy strategies, and immigration reform strategies related to building worker power and scale for immigrant workers, and expanding protections and access for those excluded under current policy. Robert Shull, Public Welfare Foundation; Susan Wefald, Discount Foundation; and Anna Wadia, Laine Romero-Alston, and Sapna Mehta of the Ford Foundation comprised the planning committee. Click here for the full agenda. A number of ideas for future work and convenings came out the discussion, particularly around immigration reform, so look out for ongoing opportunities to stay engaged. 

The Legacy of the Discount Foundation was also celebrated during this event. Former boardmembers, staff, and grantees honored nearly four decades of supporting economic opportunity and justice for low-income communities across the country.  Seth Freed Wessler authored a comprehensive retrospective of this legacy, Seeking Worker Justice: A 38-Year Retrospective of the Discount Foundation, 1977 – 2015. Discount's founding of the WGLCP twenty years ago was also recognized, which is one of the many ways in which this legacy of advancing economic and social justice will continue. Also continuing Discount’s work will be Jobs with Justice and the Neighborhood Funders Group who received a funding to administer an annual awards program for leaders in the field of economic justice. Jeff Zinsmeyer, Board Chair and Discount founder,presented Sarita Gupta, JwJ Executive Director, and Dennis Quirin, NFG President, accepted this grant award during the celebration. In addition, Discount’s Executive Director Susan Wefald, in a collective effort including several WGLCP members, has spearheaded the Black Worker Organizing Project (see detailed update below), which will also proudly continue this tradition of supporting innovative worker organizing movements nationally. 


Black Worker Organizing Project

On May 1st, 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.  The WGLCP members 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). This past Monday, the WGLCP 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. If you missed it, click here to see a recording. 


EDGE Conference 

Also in April, the WGLCP co-sponsored two very well attended sessions at the EDGE Funders Alliance 2015 Just Giving Conference in Baltimore, MD.  The first session, Transnational Labor Rights in the Global Supply Chain, hosted by the Fund for Global Human Rights,  Ford Foundation, General Service Foundation, and the WGLCP examined ongoing trends of globalization and migration have shifted the dynamics of work and workplaces globally. Featured were three powerful examples of ongoing transnational organizing campaigns : (a) the Asia Floor Wage campaign which seeks to establish a regional living wage in Asia’s apparel industry; (b) a bi-national organizing campaign focusing on the impacts of extractive industries in Mexico; and (c) efforts to organize workers along the retail supply chain. The panelists were Anannya Bachatterjee, Society for Labour and Development; Alejandra Ancheita ProDESC; Jennifer Rosenbaum, National Guest Worker Alliance; Moderated by Nik Theodore, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago. WGLCP members Laine Romero-Alston, Holly Bartling, and Amy Morris organized this event. 


The second session, Innovation Labs and Other Experiments– Reimagining how to Resource Change, hosted by the Ford Foundation, General Service Foundation, Solidago Foundation, Fund for Global Human Rights,  and the WGLCP, explored the question, what does it take for a strong organization that is leading an ambitious network to get to scale? What role should philanthropy be playing in supporting this?  Are there other types of entities and funding mechanisms that we should also be exploring? This session gave several examples of funders and activists who are using innovation labs to explore alternative strategies for resourcing their work.  Palak Shah, National Domestic Workers Alliance/Fair Care Labs; Peter Murray, Accelerate Change; and Jee Kim, Program Officer, Ford Foundation spoke at this session, moderated by Laine Romero-Alston, Ford Foundation.


Grantmakers in Health Conference

Laine Romero-Alston all led a session at the 2015 Grantmakers in Health Annual Conference on Health Philanthropy: Pathways to Health in Austin, Texas, March 4 – 6. The session, Care: Cracks in the Elder Care System explored the issue of care for aging populations in society, related economic factors, and how this growing sector is undervalued. 


WGLCP Conversations with Department of Labor

In February and April, the WGLCP hosted conversation with senior officials at the Department of Labor to discuss: 1) State of the Union Implications and Opportunities for Labor, and 2) the DOL's Lead on Leave-Empowering Working Families Across America Tour. Mary Beth Maxwell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at OASP, and Pronita Gupta, Deputy Director for Policy of the Women's Bureau at the Department of Labor, both participated and explored ways to capitalize on the energy created by President Obama's message, and how WGLCP members could coordinate to lift up policies that support working families. The second conversation focused on supporting greater workplace flexibility for hardworking American families. The White House Council on Women and Girls has partnered with the Department of Labor to host a series of regional events focused on working family issues. The tour began on April 1st with the Secretary of Labor Tom Perez meeting with employers, workers, community leaders to discuss how paid leave and other flexible workplace policies can help support American workers, their employers, and grow the middle class. Click here and here for call notes.


Hawaii Learning Tour: November 16-19, 2015

In the popular imagination, Hawaii is thought of as a tropical paradise, but it is also a state that is struggling to overcome centuries of colonialism, environmental degradation and displacement of its Native communities. What can we learn from Hawaii’s unique history, culture and geopolitical location and how communities there are overcoming challenges to forge equitable economic opportunities for its diverse residents? What are the attributes of Hawai’I that serve as a model for building community resilience?  How does our thinking about race and immigration change within a Native/indigenous context? What is the impact of tourism as the primary economic driver in a state’s economy? Come join your colleagues for an interactive 4-day learning tour of Oahu, Hawaii, to learn about innovative approaches towards creating economic and environmental sustainability.  Topics will include immigration, improving conditions for low wage workers, building successful labor-community partnerships, culturally-based community development and creating educational and economic opportunities for young people.   The role of Native communities, gender and racial justice issues will be integrated throughout our sessions. For further information, please contact Valeria at Neighborhood Funders Group: Space is limited so please indicate your interest soon.  


Arkansas Learning Place-Based Learning Tour, October 7-8, 2015

Changing Face of the South:Investing in the Infrastructure to Support a Growing Immigrant Population. The Southeast region of the United States is in a moment of great change and great opportunity. The South is home to the fastest growing foreign-born population in the country, with newcomers invigorating communities and spurring growth. Policies like DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and more recently expanded administrative relief for immigrant families, have crucial implications for the region. During this time of change, it is critical for grantmakers to partner with immigrant and allied communities to best understand how we might invest in quality and affordable education for all, workforce development with meaningful pathways to quality jobs, and the broad civic engagement that builds community power for growing populations. Arkansas communities offer creative organizing strategies that can be models for the region and the country. Join Neighborhood Funders Group, Grantmakers for Southern Progress, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, and The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation for a learning tour in Arkansas. This tour will provide an important backdrop for funder-to-funder conversations about how to best support the changing population in the South. Co-sponsored by Four Freedoms Fund of NEO Philanthropy, Hill-Snowdon Foundation, Mary Reyonolds Babcock Foundation, Philanthropy Southwest, and Southern Partners Fund. For more information, visit here


Webinar on on Immigration Executive Action and Workers/Labor Market 

Intended for more general audience, this webinar will cover implications for immigrant workers and families post legal process. If you would like to participate in this webinar, or would like more information, write


Neighborhood Funders Group Annual Convening: February 2016

The next NFG annual convening will be held in Oakland, CA. Planning is ramping now, including for sessions sponsored by the WGLCP, so write if you would like to get involved. Stay tuned for details!


Future of Work Conference

The GIST/Workforce Matters/Neighborhood Funders Group meeting, The Future of Work and the Workforce, was held on December 2-3, 2014 in Baltimore, MD.  This funders briefing explored what work and working will look like in the future, the potential impact of key trends on low-income workers, families and communities, and the role of philanthropy in shaping better outcomes for the workplace and workers. Approximately 65 funders participated in this event.

All meeting materials can be found on GIST web site:


NYC Food Procurement Roundtable Discussion 

On January 8th, 2104, WGLCP co-sponsored a discussion organized by Food Chain Workers Working Group of Community Food Funders. 23 funders, food chain worker organizers, and school food advocates strategized around the opportunities to promote quality food access and good jobs using public purchasing levers of cities across the food chain, specifically in public schools. Held at the Ford Foundation, we explored the potential opportunities for food worker organizing that might accompany the hoped-for 2015 expansion to universal school lunch in NYC. Participants took a closer look at the Good Food Purchasing Program in LA as a model, and the efforts it took to get them passed in LA, and those underway to have similar standards adopted in Chicago.  


Selma Funders Delegation – March 6-8, 2015

This March marks the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As part of a broader program, Grantmakers for Southern Progress will be hosting a funder delegation. For information on the event, visit Details on the funder delegation will be available shortly.


Annual Policy Briefing of the Working Group on Labor and Community Partnerships

Save the Date!

Wednesday, April 22 (6:00PM) to April 24, 2015 

Public Welfare Foundation

Washington, DC

Agenda details coming soon!


Black Worker Organizing Report

We have raised $85,000 for a joint report by the Discount Foundation, NFG’s WGLCP and the Institute for Policy Studies on black worker organizing, with another $15K to raise towards our budget of $100,000.  The report will have five sections. Four short pieces will cover background on the racial jobs gap, union organizing, the black workforce and a gender and queer lens. We will also have a longer field scan based on 25-30 interviews, and an appendix of groups culled from the funders involved (not an exhaustive list.)  


The 2015 Just Giving Conference, April 8 – 10, Baltimore. Towards a Just Transition: Principles and Practices for the Next Economy – Better, Not More.

Laine Romero-Alston (Ford Foundation), Holly Bartling (General Service Foundation), and Amy Morris (Fund for Global Human Rights) have proposed a session on Transnational Labor Rights in the Global Supply Chain. The session will discuss ongoing trends of globalization and migration that have shifted the dynamics of work and workplaces globally, as well as how the challenges to protecting and expanding labor rights around the world are dynamic and the need to raise labor standards across supply chains is ever more pressing.  Traditional models of organizing have not proven effective in many cases and new structures of employment arrangements pose new stumbling blocks.  Innovation and adaptation among labor and worker rights groups are ever more important and from all corners of the movement new ideas and approaches are being brought forward to effectively meet the increasing power and influence of corporations globally. These trends will be examined through three powerful examples of ongoing transnational organizing campaigns: (a) the Asia Floor Wage campaign which seeks to establish a regional living wage in Asia’s apparel industry; (b) a bi-national organizing campaign focusing on the impacts of extractive industries in Mexico and temporary guestworker programs in the US; and (c) efforts to organize workers along the retail supply chain, with a focus on an organizing campaign at Wal-Mart supplier, C. J.’s Seafood, in the US.    


Webinar on on Immigration Executive Action and Workers/Labor Market

Intended for more general audience, this webinar will cover implications for immigrant workers and families post legal process. Date pending.


2015 Grantmakers in Health Annual Conference on Health Philanthropy: Pathways to Health. Austin, Texas, March 4 - 6, 2015

Laine Romero-Alston will be leading a session on Care: Cracks in the Elder Care System. This will explore the issue of care for aging populations in society, related economic factors, and how this growing sector is undervalued. Click here for more information about the conference.