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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September 10, 2019

For Love of Humankind: A Call to Action for Southern Philanthropy

Justin Maxson, Executive Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, calls on fellow funding organizations based in the South to respond to the federal government's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies with three concrete actions. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Justin was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, which strives to help people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice, is a member of NFG.


 

Justin MaxsonWe are issuing a clarion call to Southern philanthropic organizations to respond to the manic drumbeat of anti-immigrant rhetoric and cruelty coming from the White House. This month began with a mass shooting targeting the Latinx community. Days later, massive raids tore apart hundreds of families and destabilized Mississippi communities but levied no consequences for the corporate leadership that lures vulnerable people to work in grueling, dangerous conditions. It is astounding that since those events, with the resulting fear and trauma still reverberating through immigrant communities across America, the administration has: 

  • repeated its intention to end birthright citizenship, a 14th Amendment guarantee that babies born on American soil are citizens. 
  • attempted to terminate the Flores Agreement, which sets standards for the care of children in custody. This would allow the administration to detain migrant families indefinitely in facilities where children are dying of influenza, yet flu shots are not administrated, where children are sexually assaulted, where soap, toothbrushes, human contact and play are not standard, and where breastfeeding babies are taken from their mothers. Child separation is known to cause permanent psychological trauma and brain damage.
  • announced changes to the so-called “public charge rule” to make it harder for legal immigrants to secure citizenship if they use public assistance. As our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argue, this change would cause many to “forgo assistance altogether, resulting in more economic insecurity and hardship, with long-term negative consequences, particularly for children.” Further, the decision “rests on the erroneous assumption that immigrants currently of modest means are harmful to our nation and our economy, devaluing their work and contributions and discounting the upward mobility immigrant families demonstrate.”

There was also a recent effort to effectively end asylum altogether at the southern border. And despite the Supreme Court ruling blocking the citizenship question from the 2020 census, advocates believe the debate will depress response rates. As we wrote earlier this month, this administration’s animus against immigrants and increasingly aggressive ICE actions are compounding the devastating effects on communities across the country. 

Why Southern philanthropy? 

An analysis of recent grantmaking by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found our region has deportation rates five times higher than the rest of the country, yet Southern pro-immigrant organizations receive paltry philanthropic funding. Barely one percent of all money granted by the 1,000 largest foundations benefits immigrants and refugees, and even that money doesn’t go to state and local groups that are accountable to grassroots and immigrant communities. Organizations in Southern states receive less than half of the state and local funding of California, New York and Illinois. 

Where to begin? 

Speak up. As Desmund Tutu taught us, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Use your institutional voice to influence decisionmakers.

Examine your foundation’s policies. Find out if your endowment is invested in private detention centers. Consider how supporting organizing, power building and policy advocacy could advance your mission. NCRP has more recommendations in its report.

Give generously. Our partners at Hispanics in Philanthropy have curated a list of organizations helping the families affected by the raids across Mississippi. Our partners at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees have compiled a list of ways to help, from rapid response grants to long-term strategies. 

Many of the Babcock Foundation’s grantee partners are doing more and more immediate protection work, stretching themselves thin and often putting themselves at risk. They are keeping families intact in the short term while building power for the long term, so history will stop repeating: 

If you know of more resources, please share them. If you’d like to learn more about the organizations on the ground across the South – or think about ways we can do more together – contact us. We are always looking to learn and act in alignment with our fellow funders toward a shared vision of a strong, safe, welcoming and equitable region. 

Activist Jane Addams said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us.” Regardless of a foundation’s mission, abject cruelty surely undermines it. It also undermines the most basic tenet of philanthropy, which literally means “love for humankind.” We see no love in this administration. It’s up to all of us to spread it.

September 3, 2019

Capitalism and Racism: Conjoined Twins

By Marjona Jones, Co-Chair of Funders for a Just Economy and Senior Program Officer at Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

Marjona Jones speaking at a podium.

A few weeks ago, Democracy Now! aired a segment with Ibram X. Kendi, author and founding director of the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at American University, where he discussed white supremacy, anti-racism, and the increase in mass shootings. What struck me about the segment was his illuminating statement about the origins of capitalism. Kendi views capitalism and racism as "conjoined twins" and that “…the origins of racism cannot be separated from the origins of capitalism… the life of capitalism cannot be separated from the life of racism.”

Kendi continued by discussing how the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade allowed for the massive accumulation of wealth in Europe and the Americas. Centuries of wage theft, trading in human bondage, insurance claims on "lost" cargo, and reparations for slave owners after emancipation entrenched this capitalist system with inequities based on race built into it. Slave owners protected their concentrated wealth by shaping our socio-economic and legal systems to benefit themselves and the industry of slavery, as well as limit democracy.

As I celebrate the worker movement’s victories on Labor Day this year, this segment and past conversations with grantees has triggered an important question for me: What does the notion that capitalism and racism are inextricably linked mean for our work as funders of racial and economic justice? Our grantee partners tell us how workers are implicated in the entangled web of these “conjoined twins” of racism and capitalism. Many worker-based organizations state that the best vehicle this country has in pursuit of economic justice is through organizing workers, but traditional labor hasn’t always been the best vehicle for racial justice. As Bill Fletcher Jr. and Fernando Gapasin discuss in Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice, while many unions integrated in the 1920s, some unionists decided to resist integration to ensure wins and job quality for white workers. These traditionalists understood the idea of “conjoined twins.”

Racial and economic justice movements have exposed exploitative and extractive practices within capitalism, making it less secure to accumulate wealth through those means. However, as Michelle Alexander points out in her book, The New Jim Crow, exposing capitalism for what it is forces it to transform and evolve. For example, following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, agriculture was still the main economic engine, and free exploited labor was needed for this industry to survive. Capitalism evolved while maintaining its racist and exploitative roots through policymakers passing the Black Codes of 1865 and 1866, making it easier to imprison recently freed slaves to continue that supply of free labor.

We are catching up to the fact that capitalism was never meant to work for everyone. What will the next evolution in capitalism bring as our movements fight even harder for racial and economic justice in the face of harm to workers and marginalized communities?

Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) has created an intentional space to begin discussing what these questions mean for our work and the grantees we support. Capitalism’s origin story is a critical part of analyzing how this system operates. By acknowledging the “conjoined twins,” we acknowledge the role of race and the legacy of slavery. FJE believes that there is a renewed opportunity to support a working-class movement that builds the power of all workers, especially Black, Trans and LGBQ workers, women, and immigrants—and lift their role as the main strategists to change the system. If we believe another world is possible, then so is another system that bakes in justice, equity, and respect.


  

Join FJE for these conversations and more at the upcoming Racial Capitalism, Power and Resistance event on October 17 & 18 in Brooklyn, NY. More information and registration link here.

Stay tuned for an upcoming Power Building Study Group for Neighborhood Funders Group members, and the Disrupt the System: How Labor and Philanthropy can Build Worker Power in a New Era event co-convened by the AFL-CIO, the LIFT Fund, and FJE on December 11 in Washington, DC. More information coming soon!