Democratizing Development Program


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The Democratizing Development Program (DDP) brings together place-based and national funders to provide learning, analysis, and mutual support around organizing the field of philanthropy and genuinely partnering with communities to support sustainable development and community power building strategies. Our funders catalyze change through collaboration with community stakeholders, addressing systems of inequity to create long-lasting benefits for low-income individuals and communities of color in neighborhoods — watch an example from Neighborhoods First Fund. Learn more about the Democratizing Development Program here.

DDP is a space where funders further develop their strategies and analysis to take action and partner with other equity-centered funders with the following focus areas:

  • Intersectional approaches and strategies that protect, preserve and produce affordable housing solutions that address gentrification and displacement
  • Community development and ownership models that allow residents to influence local decisions and create longer-term benefits for themselves 
  • Embedding equitable solutions for public infrastructure and other systems that can otherwise negatively impact neighborhoods
  • Implementation of peer-learning, sharing best practices, and equity-centered grantmaking approaches

Meet our program leaders.

Isabel Barrios
Program Officer
Greater New Orleans Foundation

Isabel is a Co-Chair of the Democratizing Development Program. Her work has centered on asset building, economic opportunity, and affordable housing in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Kevin Ryan
Senior Program Officer, Civic Engagement & Government
Ford Foundation

Kevin is a Co-Chair of the Democratizing Development Program. He leads the Ford Foundation’s grant making in Detroit, focusing on housing and community development, civic engagement, and youth opportunities.

Matthew Barron
Program Officer, Sustainability
The Heinz Endowments

Matt’s work addresses community and economic development as well as environmental issues, with a focus on economic and environmental justice.

Maria Mulkeen
Program Officer
The Hyams Foundation

Maria serves as a program officer for affordable housing. She has a backround of over 15 years in community development and civic engagement.

Michael Smith
Director for Community Investments and the Built Environment
Richmond Memorial Health Foundation

Michael's work to dismantle structural barriers to housing has focused around housing discrimination, mobility and economic opportunity, and disporportionate environmental impacts on low-wealth communities and communities of color.

Profile photo of Alex Desautels.
Alex Desautels
Program Manager for Strategy Development and Dissemination
The California Endowment

Alex serves in multiple capacities advancing the goals of The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiative. Her work focuses on equitable growth, narrative change, governing for racial equity, impact investing, equity and inclusion, and strategic communications.

Learn about our impact.