March 26, 2019

St. Louis Young Black Leaders Cohort Design Process Consultant Search

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

The Old St. Louis County Courthouse framed by The Gateway Arch behind it.

Photo by Brittney Butler on Unsplash

In late 2018, the Amplify Fund engaged with a group of local advisors in a strategy development process to determine its grantmaking priorities in Missouri. Through that process there was a clear ask from local strategy advisors to invest in young Black leadership in the St. Louis region to deepen relationships, develop trust, and align around a shared political analysis and plan.

Specifically, the funding strategy calls for Amplify to support the leadership primarily of Black and youth leaders and names several strategies as pre-conditions to the success of any work in the region:

  • Nurture trusting relationships and collaborative spaces where they exist, and urgently invest in relationship and trust building, to lay the groundwork for fruitful future collaboration
  • Embedded in this work, include developing a more shared lens among leaders of key groups on systems change, power, and racial justice.
  • Support skill development – leadership development to ensure shared tools and points of reference, organizational development, and “brass tacks” organizing training to ensure a shared set of tactics and approach to the work, including, sharing national best practices and promising innovations that could be translated/implemented in St. Louis.

Together with a small core group of leaders who will serve as the design team, the Deaconess Foundation and the Amplify Fund are seeking a consultant to facilitate a 4-6-month design process to plan a leadership and organizational development and political alignment cohort experience for a small aligned group of young Black leaders in the St. Louis region.

DESIGN QUESTIONS

The purpose of the design process is to gain clarity on:

  • Who beyond the design team should be invited to participate in the cohort, and/or what the selection process will be? What is the ideal composition of the cohort overall?
  • What are the shared goals and areas of focus for the cohort? (i.e. what are the specifics of the “curriculum”: relationship and trust building, leadership development, political analysis and alignment, shared analysis regarding systems change, power, racial justice, campaign strategy and organizing models/tools, etc.) This will be informed by an initial capacity scan of the potential cohort members’ organizations and other movement stakeholders.
  • What is the desired outcome of this cohort experience? (i.e. Is this the formation of a Black political roundtable? Or something else?)
  • What entity (or entities?) – national or local – will support the cohort, and in what ways? (i.e. transformative leadership organizations like BOLD, Rockwood, or generative somatics, or groups from other states who have gone through political alignment processes, national organizing networks, M4BL, independent political strategists, etc.)
  • Other details such as duration, ongoing facilitation needs, etc.

DELIVERABLE

The outcome of the design process will be a grant proposal describing the cohort program design, timeline, and expected budget, reflecting the shared desires of the design team.

The finished product will be submitted to the Deaconess Foundation and Amplify Fund for funding, aiming for launch in fall 2019.

PROCESS AND DESIGN TEAM

Process-wise, there is a small group of core local, young, Black leaders — Kayla Reed, Action St. Louis; Blake Strode, Arch City Defenders; Charli Cooksey, WEPOWER — willing to serve on a design team, but the facilitator will be the primary person scoping and presenting opportunities, facilitating learning and generative design conversations, holding the overall process, coordinating design team members, and taking the lead on co-creating the proposal. The facilitator will be selected by the design team, highly attuned to their needs, schedules, and orientation to the process, and will work in a way that pushes and challenges assumptions, while producing a product that reflects the desires and inputs shared by design team members.

The purpose of hiring a facilitator for this process is to in every case minimize the burden on local leaders who are already burdened by far too many demands on their time. We are looking for someone who can craft a design experience that lifts up design team members’ brilliance and input, but does not ask them to do unnecessary extra work. The design team will help the facilitator identify key stakeholders in the community for input to the design process beyond the design team.


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KEY QUALIFICATIONS: 

  • Strong facilitation and process design skills
  • Embedded in and deeply knowledgeable about efforts to build Black political power
  • Knowledgeable of the leadership and organizational development landscape of organizations in the national social justice space
  • Proven experience in processes of political alignment
  • Experience in equitable development work, for example: housing justice, green infrastructure, and/or organizing efforts to influence private and public development projects
  • Ideally knowledgeable of the St. Louis region and Missouri context, but minimally a quick study and interested and willing to get up to speed on the local context in a self-driven way; proposals invited from consultants based in any geographic location  
  • Flexible time availability, so as to be able to work around the design team’s busy schedules (all three are EDs of organizations and have other responsibilities as well), and (if not based there) to be present in St. Louis as needed.

 

TO APPLY:

Interested applicants should submit a proposed scope of work and budget to info@deaconess.org by April 25, 2019 for consideration by the design team. We welcome pairs or teams of consultants, particularly those that combine local and national representation to apply.

PROPOSAL CONTENT

Please submit a proposed scope of work of no more than 5 pages that includes:

  • Statement of interest in this project, articulating how it aligns with your core work and purpose
  • Proposed approach to this project
  • List of past organizational partners and a relevant example (an artefact) of work you have completed with one of them
  • Proposed budget
  • Proposed timeline
  • Names and contact information for two references from organizations you have previously worked with

SELECTION TIMELINE

  • April 29: Proposals due to info@deaconess.org
  • April 29 – mid-May: Period of proposal review
  • May 23: Final candidates interviewed in-person by the Design Team in St. Louis, with candidate selection and offer to follow

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • Relevance of qualifications and experience listed above, and demonstrated interest in and passion for the project
  • Understanding of the work to be performed
  • Clear timeline for producing deliverables
  • Alignment with purpose and core values of the project, Deaconess Foundation, and the Amplify Fund
  • Budgetary considerations

 

ABOUT THE AMPLIFY FUND

The Amplify Fund is a national pooled grantmaking and capacity building fund focused on supporting work to build the power, influence, and direct decision-making authority of communities of color and low-income communities to advance equitable urban and regional development. Amplify is housed at the Neighborhood Funders Group and administered in partnership with the Common Counsel Foundation. The Fund has a four-year time horizon and grantmaking will begin in Fall 2018 in four pilot sites: Missouri, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico, as well as in California, through the Fund for an Inclusive California. One goal of the Fund’s design is to be disruptive to some of the typical dynamics in philanthropy, and as such its defining characteristics include:

  • Amplify will prioritize and be guided by local leadership in every site, and has crafted grantmaking strategies in each site with the guidance of local leaders.
  • A race analysis is at the center of the Fund’s grantmaking, learning and evaluation, communications, and capacity building with grantees.
  • The Fund supports work that positions communities of color and low-income communities as the primary drivers of change.
  • From the outset, Amplify will strive to develop a strategy to ensure long-term sustainability for the work after the Fund sunsets.

Amplify’s grantmaking seeks to respond to the fact that communities of color and low-income communities experience the most negative impacts of development, and currently have the least power and say over how decisions that directly affect them are made. Amplify aims to support a shift in local power structures by helping to put decisions about local development in the hands of people of color and low-income communities. The Fund’s theory of change asserts that historically systemic racism is at the heart of these decisions and therefore a racial justice analysis has to be applied to solutions in order for them to be effective. We believe that people in communities have much of the wisdom and clarity to drive an equitable development agenda. In order to insert that wisdom in the decision-making process, greater power among communities of color and low-income communities is necessary.

  

ABOUT THE DEACONESS FOUNDATION

Deaconess Foundation invests in the well-being of children, engages our region around the plight of youth, and advocates for change. A ministry of the United Church of Christ, Deaconess has invested more than $80 million to improve the health of the St. Louis community since 1998 and believes healthy, hope-filled futures for children benefit the entire region. The Foundation’s grantmaking footprint includes St. Louis City, St. Louis, Jefferson, St. Charles, and Franklin Counties in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties in Illinois.

Deaconess Foundation operates as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and as a supporting organization under Section 509(a)(3) of the Code. Deaconess Foundation is a supporting organization of the Missouri Mid-South and Illinois South Conferences of the United Church of Christ.

Additional information about the Foundation can be found on our website: www.deaconess.org.

 

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June 12, 2019

NFG Announces Transition of President Dennis Quirin

For Immediate Release
June 12, 2019

OAKLAND, CA — On July 19, Dennis Quirin will step down as President of Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) to accept a new position as Executive Director of the Raikes Foundation in September. NFG’s Vice President of Programs, Adriana Rocha, and Vice President of Operations, Sarita Ahuja, will serve as Interim Co-Directors to shepherd the organization through the executive transition. A search for NFG’s next President will begin in late 2019.

“The courageous and bold leadership that Dennis exhibits is exactly what this moment requires. Today, NFG stands strong and in solidarity with the movements we are all in service of advancing. It has been an honor to work with someone who aligns their values with their actions as consistently as Dennis does. On behalf of the board, I am excited to welcome the next leader who will carry on NFG’s mission supporting grassroots power building so that communities of color and low-income communities thrive,” said Alison Corwin, Chair of the NFG board.

In his six-year tenure as President, Dennis has overseen tremendous expansion in NFG’s membership, operations, and programming. NFG's institutional membership has more than doubled, with now over 115 foundations around the country participating as members in programs focused on shifting power and money in philanthropy towards justice. NFG’s team has also grown to 15 staff members located in six states across the US. Dennis has launched the Amplify Fund, a multimillion-dollar collaborative fund for equitable development, and Philanthropy Forward, a foundation CEO fellowship. He has also fostered new directions in programming addressing issues such as gentrification and displacement, racial justice and police accountability, just transition to a new economy, rural organizing, and the changing landscape of workers’ rights.

“It has been a great privilege to lead this organization as it activates philanthropy to support social justice and power building,” said Dennis. “Nearing its 40th year, NFG is now in the strongest position it has ever been, and will no doubt continue to grow and build upon what we have accomplished together during my time here. I am excited to take what I’ve learned and apply these lessons in my new role at the Raikes Foundation.” 

“Dennis’s visionary leadership over the past six years has strengthened NFG as a community where funders gain relationships and tools to move more resources to organizing and powerbuilding,” said Sarita. “We are grateful to Dennis for building NFG into the thriving organization it is today,” added Adriana, “and look forward to welcoming a new leader in 2020.”

NFG’s executive search will be announced later in 2019 and will be open nationally to candidates. More immediate questions about the search can be sent to Shannon Lin, Communications Manager, at shannon@nfg.org

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Read more: "A New Chapter — for Me and for NFG"

 

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May 9, 2019

Building Power in the Sunshine State: Lessons from FJE’s Florida Learning Tour

In April 2019, NFG's Funders for a Just Economy and Florida Philanthropic Network brought together funders from across the country and community organizing leaders in Florida to explore how diverse communities in the state are building power and political infrastructure for workers’ rights, migrant justice, women’s rights, and more.

Sienna BaskinSienna Baskin, Director of the Anti-Trafficking Fund at NEO Philanthropy, shares her experience from the learning tour. You can follow Sienna at @SiennaBaskin and NEO at@NEOPhilanthropy

Would you be able to come from the frozen Northeast to a resort in Ft. Myers without relishing the feeling of your toes in sandals or the warm bay breezes? I know these were my first impressions as I landed for the Funders for a Just Economy Florida Funder Tour. But as we left the sunshine to enter a darkened conference room, our eyes adjusted to read the first slide: “Racial Capitalism and Resistance in the Sunshine State.” As funders, many of us tourists and outsiders, we were invited in to learn the real story of Florida.

During this introduction to the tour, we learned that the inequities Floridians are suffering were sown in the earliest days of European colonization, and the roots of revolt stretch just as far back. By the 1800’s, Native Seminole communities were a haven for escaped slaves, and some of the largest anti-slavery uprisings were launched from these enclaves. Post-reconstruction, this blossoming of freedom was repressed with an especially brutal reign of the KKK – Florida had the highest number of lynchings per capita of any southern state. Florida also passed the first “Right to Work” law in the nation, disenfranchising African American communities to maintain the status quo, and built the tourism sector with leased convict labor. Considering these challenges, Cuban, Spanish and Italian workers built strong unions and mounted many strikes at cigar-rolling factories. In 1968 it was out of a failed sanitation strike in St. Petersburg that one of the fastest growing multiracial unions in the south — SEIU Florida Public Service Union – was born. And just this week, Florida passed one of the harshest anti-immigrant bills in the country, banning sanctuary cities and requiring local government agencies to cooperate with ICE.

Learning tour participants sit at tables to listen to local community organizers in a colorful room surrounded by posters.

Photos by Arista Collective

This sense of a violent swing from liberation to repression and back again permeated our time in Florida. We met many of the brilliant leaders riding these waves. They had much to teach us. Like the country at large, Florida is almost perfectly balanced between progressive possibility and conservative ideology. Every election is won or lost by 1%, but a Republican stronghold has held onto power. This means organizers must find ways to engage conservatives around shared values, build an alternate narrative powerful enough to contest for governing power and move the apolitical (30% of voters are unaffiliated), or create new systems of accountability and power outside of government.

We heard examples of all of these strategies. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition recently won a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to people with criminal records by connecting with returning citizens, their families, and the wider community around a sense of justice, not by arguing politics. Alliance for Safety and Justice organizes crime victims around criminal justice reform by talking about failures in public safety. The Statewide Alignment Group, an alliance of 7 organizations including Florida Immigration Coalition, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, and Faith in Florida, are building a new electorate through leadership development, community-based popular education, and ballot initiatives, with Medicaid expansion, automatic voter registration and $15 minimum wage in their sights. The Miami Workers Center organizes victims of domestic violence and domestic workers to fight the feminization of poverty with a shared agenda. All aspire to a new definition of civic engagement, where working people are authors of the laws that affect them, an audacious goal in a state that has long repressed workers. This requires not being “prisoners of the moment” as Alphonso Mayfield of the SEIU called it, but seeing where even failure leads to future change, if there is deep collaboration and engagement over years.

Nelly Rodriguez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers speaks to learning tour participants sitting at a table with her.We also visited Immokalee, a town of migrant workers, small bodegas and vast tomato and citrus farms. Around bright oilcloth-covered tables we heard about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' famous human rights program, built to change the slavery-like conditions on industrial farms. By holding the brands at the top of the supply chain accountable for enforcing worker protections and threatening the loss of sales for farm owners if they did not sign up, workers were able to institute higher pay and standards than even the law requires. Surrounded by hand-painted signs from their marches against Wendy’s, Taco Bell and other corporate giants, we saw the potential of this program, born of necessity in one of the most oppressive regions and industries in the country for low-wage workers.

Unfortunately, philanthropy is not always walking with these activists. While Florida is perceived as a wealthy state, we learned that there are almost no social justice funders in Florida, especially for workers or immigrant rights. Many holders of wealth hail from outside of Florida, and think of the state as their vacation or retirement spot, not where they should be giving back. And national funders aren’t always investing in the most impactful ways. Money pours into Florida for disaster response or to swing the state during election years, focused on numbers, not depth or long-term engagement. These kinds of resources may lead to the problem of “burnt turf,” when voters don’t trust that organizers are really working in their best interest. For long term grassroots investment, Florida often falls through the cracks.

Two people on the learning tour sit in a bus looking out onto farm fields.

Photos by Arista Collective

The Contigo Fund showed us one example of how to do things differently. After the massacre of 49 LGBTQ Latinx young people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a combined effort through crowdfunding and traditional philanthropy raised 30 million for the families and survivors, and 3 million more was raised for longer term efforts. The Contigo Fund carried out an assessment to learn how the community identified the conditions they were facing, the gaps in resources, and their hopes and dreams for change. The resulting grants promoted 37 new LGBTQ leaders of color into positions of power, launched new programs for LGBTQ communities in existing organizations, and helped found 11 new organizations led by LGBTQ people of color in central Florida.

Tarell McCraney, writer of the Academy Award-winning “Moonlight,” called Miami “a beautiful nightmare.”  My sense, after soaking in Florida sunsets and hearing from these activists, is that this moniker could apply to the entire state. Florida has suffered many traumas: historical, environmental, collective and individual. It is top in the nation for poverty-wage jobs, has the highest rate of ICE arrests in the country, and was home to half of all US murders of trans people in 2018. But it also has enormous potential, potential Florida activists and organizers can feel. Some of the most brilliant organizing strategies in the country are emerging from this state, out of the urgency of the moment and the creativity of activists overcoming high barriers. These are the strategies we need to turn this whole country around. Marcia Olivo of the Miami Workers Center shared her belief that out of healing can come collective action, and without this action, healing is incomplete. Philanthropy has an opportunity to help move this, and all the other exciting ideas in Florida, to a place of flourishing.

More about the tour: Tour Agenda | Speaker Bios | Attendees List

We are so grateful to the organizations that worked with us on this tour: Alliance for Safety and Justice, Alianza for Progress, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Community Justice ProjectContigo Fund, Dream Defenders, Faith in Florida, Fair Food Standards Council, Family Action Network Movement, Farmworkers Association of Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Florida New Majority, Florida Philanthropic Network, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Miami Workers Center, Organize Florida, QLatinx, SEIU Public Services Union of Florida, VIDA Legal Assistance, WeCount!