December 11, 2017

NFG moves into grantmaking with a multimillion-dollar collaborative fund

Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) steps into the role of collaborative grantmaker with The Amplify Fund—a new, multimillion-dollar pooled fund focused on investing in equitable, community-led development. The fund, which is seeded by Surdna Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations, is an opportunity for funders to support work to shift local power structures and put decisions about local development in the hands of residents.

“Neighborhood Funders Group’s core purpose is to build philanthropy’s capacity to move more resources more effectively to low-income communities and communities of color,” said Dennis Quirin, president of NFG. “The Amplify Fund is a catalytic opportunity for NFG to live its mission and provide a vehicle for funders to resource this critical work in a more impactful and collaborative way.” 

Jerry Maldonado, program officer at Ford Foundation said, “The Ford Foundation sees NFG and its network of field leaders as a driving force in organizing philanthropy to move resources to equitable and sustainable community development. That's why we at Ford are so excited to be launching the Amplify Fund alongside other funders that share a vision of equitable community development.”

NFG has hired Amy Morris, former NFG board member and former Surdna Foundation program officer, to serve as the fund's Director. The fund will invest in regions of the U.S. that are grappling with development, displacement, and gentrification—where sustainable community power will support long-term wins.

“The strategy and vision for this fund builds on the hard work of field leaders who have developed the guiding analysis and strategic thinking in the very early stages of the fund’s conception, and will continue to remain at the center of the effort,” said Amy of the fund’s grantmaking strategy.

The goal of the fund is to bolster the ability of communities of color and low-income communities to guide decisions about just and equitable neighborhood development to shape the places they live. This ambitious goal is grounded in the funders’ shared belief that, as a society, we need a sustainable political and governing infrastructure that prioritizes the needs of people above corporations, and empowers communities that are underrepresented in our civic culture to be authentic stakeholders in the decisions that affect their daily lives.

Deidre Swesnik, program officer at the Open Society Foundations, said of the Amplify Fund’s focus, “The barriers to making local and regional development truly equitable are substantial. By combining forces and sharing analysis and strategy, we can maximize our impact and our reach—building the power, influence, and direct decision-making authority of communities of color and low-income communities in regions across the country.”

“The Amplify Fund will bolster the ongoing efforts of residents in historically marginalized communities and support local movements toward equitable community development,” said Phillip Henderson, president of the Surdna Foundation. “We are truly grateful to partner with Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the Neighborhood Funders Group to launch this ambitious initiative that will build and strengthen the field of community-engaged development to create just and sustainable communities for the future.”

The fund is looking to raise at least $14M to support grantmaking and programming in up to ten sites over a four-year period. To date, the seed funders have pooled the majority of this budget goal, but we’re not all the way there yet. The Amplify Fund invites other funders in the NFG network and beyond to join this exciting effort. Foundations or donors that join the fund in 2018 may have the opportunity to sit on the national steering committee, help select sites, guide strategy decisions, and determine structure and grantmaking practice.

For more information about how to join the Amplify Fund, please contact the fund’s director, Amy Morris, at amy@nfg.org.

April 21, 2022

(Re)Sharing NFG's National Convening update + more events: NFG's April 2022 Newsletter

Neighborhood Funders Group is re-sharing the announcement about our National Convening that we made earlier this month.  

We are shifting the timing of our National Convening in Wilmington, North Carolina from June 2022 to Spring 2023.

Convening is NFG’s ‘superpower,’ and the most frequently named reason for why we are many funders’ political home in philanthropy. Many of us are feeling more open to in-person connection with funder colleagues and grantee partners; excitement about the post-session hallway scheming that happens at NFG convenings; and ready for the impromptu fun that comes from in-person time together, including late night (Covid-safe!) karaoke sessions with both new and long-time friends and colleagues. And, we're continuing to be mindful that we have not been at a moment like this ever before in our lifetimes.

The decision to shift our convening to 2023 was informed by ongoing, thoughtful conversations with NFG’s staff & board of directors, our convening co-chairs who are grantmakers in the region, our Amplify Fund grantee partners that are building power in Eastern North Carolina, and our event planners (Girl Friday Events) about Covid considerations and how & when we want to intentionally regather in-person.

How we regather and build community as safely and accessibly as possible during an ongoing pandemic — where there are no known/clear solutions — requires all of us to think as adaptive leaders. How we come back together as a community requires more conversations, time, and co-created paths forward.

Over the next months, we will continue our convening program planning. When we come back together for this National Convening in 2023, we’re committed to creating a convening space that is rooted in joy, camaraderie, care, and fun; showcases how groups in Eastern North Carolina are building power locally; and moves money to BIPOC communities. Our first convening back together in-person after more than two years will be nothing short of a spectacular reunion. 

Stay tuned for more convening announcements to come! And keep reading for our robust list of upcoming events hosted by NFG and our partners, including:

In community,
The NFG Team

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March 24, 2022

Sharing NFG's refreshed theory of change: NFG's March 2022 Newsletter

Neighborhood Funders Group has shared snippets of our new theory of change in each of our newsletters so far this year. 

In January, we unveiled our long-term outcome: Philanthropic assets are liberated so that BIPOC communities and low-income communities have power to self-determine. In February, we applied this outcome to NFG’s Funders for a Just Economy program — which organizes funders committed to supporting economic justice and worker power to rebuild an economy and democracy that works for all, ensures good quality jobs, and promotes prosperity and health. 

Now, we’re excited to share our full theory of change! This process started in 2021 when we revisited our initial strategic framework that was developed three years prior. A board and staff committee came together for this work. We spoke to co-chairs of NFG programs. And we worked with the phenomenal Luminare Group who also partnered with us in 2018 on our initial strategic framework.

We began by affirming what we still held as true and core in our strategic framework while also naming our curiosities. What we found (and still find) unique and powerful in the process of developing our theory of change are the conversations and connections, the clarity named, and the commitments made. Over the course of 2021, we affirmed and refined these elements of our theory of change: the problem we seek to address, our guiding principles and values, assumptions, context, strategies and our outcomes. We also identified the evidence (empirical and experiential) that informs us. We did this so that we can be clear on our commitments, push ourselves and our work, learn from what we try on, and be accountable to you and each other.

As I shared in my January message: We know that this is a critical time for philanthropy. More people are amassing wealth, leading to more billionaires entering philanthropy and the creation of more DAFs and private foundations. There continues to be wealth hoarding among individual and foundation donors. Many foundations persist in adhering to a minimum 5% payout while endowments continue to grow. And we are seeing some positive shifts with foundations spending down the assets they’ve been holding and shifting their investment practices. Many more funders are centering trust, community power building, and decentralized decision-making in their grantmaking.

Given this context, we named key assumptions to inform our work going forward:

  • Philanthropy is at a choice point. The sector has an opportunity to shift and transform, and some grantmakers are making that choice. Others continue to pull back and maintain the status quo. 

  • Different practices are possible in philanthropy when guided by an analysis that centers root causes and intersectional analysis.

  • It will take examples and stories of how to increase spend out, transform investments, and change philanthropic practices to show the way.

  • Progress toward our theory of change outcomes will take a broad base of funders: those interested in racial, gender, economic, disability, and climate justice beginning their journey and those leading the way who are funder organizers and leaders.

  • All of us in philanthropy — Black, Indigenous, people of color, and white people — can transform our understanding to be greater leaders for justice. Even though all of us are implicated, who leads matters! Who is leading will shape how and what we fund.  

Our refreshed theory of change document is a commitment, an aspiration, and a blueprint for how NFG wants to be in our work and in our relationships with our community.

This theory of change will move us toward the following outcomes:

  • Philanthropy is led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color leaders who have experience in building community power 

  • Philanthropic practices shift power to BIPOC communities and are grounded in trust 

  • Racial, gender, economic, disability, and climate justice is funded with all philanthropic assets 

And it will guide how we partner, plan programming, and co-conspire with our community of grantmakers to liberate philanthropic assets so that BIPOC and low-income communities have power to self-determine.

We look forward to being in community with you to make this transformation together. 
 

Onwards,
Adriana

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