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 4, 2020

Strike Watch, Labor Day: Vonda McDaniel on Workers Redefining “Nash-Vegas” and Taking on Power in Tennessee

Earlier this summer, we had the fortune to sit down with Central Labor Council (CLC) of Nashville & Middle Tennessee President Vonda McDaniel. McDaniel gave us key insights – shared in this Strike Watch interview -  into the critical organizing led by food processing workers hard-hit in unsafe meatpacking plants in the region and throughout the US as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.  But meatpacking is not the only place workers are rising up in the Nashville area – where organizations are redefining Black and migrant-led labor organizing in new and important ways.

As we honor the many essential workers on the front lines of our economy this Labor Day, FJE presents our continued conversation with Council President McDaniel. She shares below about important new organizing across retail, urban development, healthcare and more to ensure the growing “Nash-Vegas” actually works for local communities, especailly as Tennessee sped to re-opening. In partnership with NFG’s Amplify Fund, we will be dialoguing more deeply about groundbreaking work in Nashville in our upcoming Virtual Learning to Nashville September 21-23, 2020. We encourage funders to register here and join us as we meet with Stand Up Nashville and The Equity Alliance, and of course, McDaniel and the CLC – and engage with film, music, and more to get a sense of the critical work in this changing Southern economic hub and its implications for worker power across the US.

There’s been a lot of attention to the South in regards to re-opening and the effects of COVID-19. We’ve talked a bit about the important crisis in meatpacking in central Tennessee. How have workers been responding and organizing in Nashville more broadly?

Nashville has become an East Coast entertainment hub - they call it “Nash-vegas” right?  And so hospitality is really the growth industry in the city, alongside health care.  The hospitality workers, mostly in restaurants and some in hotels, have been organizing. In fact some have started to reached out to Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) and have started a Nashville (Music City) chapter.  As we were reopening the economy, the press wanted to know what restaurant workers were feeling about it. What the workers saw were the dangers, and we've been working with them. [ROC Music City – a Stand Up Nashville partner - has also recently brought to light individual businesses that were hiding COVID-19 exposure, and won protections for workers in these small businesses.] It's really exciting to see the growth opportunity there in terms of organizing.

In health care, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center they didn't have enough staff when COVID hit so the company brought in temporary workers. The workers – the nurses - demanded that they get hazard pay because they saw that the temps were getting paid more. So we've seen collective action there.

In the dollar stores - both Family Dollar and Dollar General - because they cram so much cheap merchandise in the stores, there’s not a lot of room for social distancing. In many cases they're not providing the Personal Protective Equipment. When they bring their own mask we had reports that workers are told not to wear them – even when they're the homemade mask that they bring. Those workers have created a Facebook group and are really beginning to organize here and in other places. They have even reached out to those workers that have unionized In New Orleans to talk about what the differences in are in those stores and what they need to do to get a union in here, in Tennessee. [Dollar General staff in conversation with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 and speaking out about hazard pay were also targeted for firing by the company.]

One of the big issues in the South (and the Midwest) is the way conservative state governments have sought to stop everything from minimum wages to abortion through their power of pre-emption. How is this playing out in Nashville in this time?

Especially in this moment COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges for our local government. Because of that there are things that they cannot do like paid sick leave, like property tax freezes. We're in a moment where our economy was based on sales tax which has gone to nothing, and so the revenue streams are just not what they need to be. In order to keep essential services running they have to raise property taxes, but all of the tools that local governments have to try to help in this moment have been stripped by state preemption. We've been preempted over and over again. We tried to pass living wage ordinance. We passed it; it was preempted. We passed on a ballot measure - local hire - so that we could hire local workers on public projects. That was passed by the voters of the county; it was preempted.

Those in state power have been using preemption to prevent cities from being able to do the things that they consider important to help their citizens. So we have a coalition across the state that has come together, that has been trying to run a campaign to put pressure on the governor to use his emergency powers to take action and make sure that at least in this moment that preemption is not an issue. The campaign gives us an opportunity to talk about what preemption is and how it's impacted our ability to help the residents of Nashville. I know it will continue beyond this pandemic and will only become more important to confront.

How do workers fit in the bigger picture of a changing Nashville, and the unprecedented development the city has been experiencing?

Every time you turn on the TV, they say Nashville is a city on the rise. But those in charge have been building it on the cheap. [In a telling incident this June, a 16 year old Latinx worker died falling off a scaffolding, building a new development in Nashville, with no safety harness and questionable safety practices by the company.]

"Every time you turn on the TV, they say Nashville is a city on the rise. But those in charge have been building it on the cheap. "

We have been able to work with our building trades affiliates to create an apprenticeship readiness program to recruit folks out of what they call the “promise zones” and give them the skills necessary to be successful in the federally registered apprenticeship programs and the union apprenticeship programs.  Our Central Labor Council has been a partner with that, and it's been interesting because in building that work, we've created a table that has faith partners working with us. The ecosystem is really coming together, and most of the recruits for our last class came from our faith partners. We've been able to develop relationships with the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship which is the African-American ministers fellowship at Vanderbilt Divinity School. They recruited them out of the churches: the ministers knew they had returning citizens in their congregation that really needed a path to a different life. In reaching the immigrant community we had the Catholic Labor Network which was also really instrumental in helping us to really build a very diverse class also in our Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) program.

Stand Up Nashville, with the CLC is part of, along with a few of our unions and Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), have been able to really move on the policy side to increase their presence and power for working families.

How have you resourced this significant growth in labor and community organizing?

You know, it's constant.  We are really trying to organize and build, and we really feel like that in Nashville we have set the table for growth for workers. We're excited about it - we have been trying to build infrastructure here for at least the last six to eight years.

But we find ourselves trying to having to chase funding in order to continue to do the work. The folks that oppose us, they don't have those barriers.  They have sustained funding for long periods of time - it really doesn't even matter whether they're successful and accomplish the benchmarks. We really have not had that kind of investment on our side, so we have to spend a great deal of your capacity right now on that.  Our CLC is in fundraising cycle; the reason is we have staffed up a level. We went from an all-volunteer organization to one with three staff. I mean, that's not a lot, but in order to be able to do and work with the community partners, keep up with what's happening in our local government, cultivate partnerships and organize you know that takes resources – the kind that it is very difficult to find funding for. We continue to look for ways to get investment in the work because we feel like that that, over time, there is definitely a return on that investment. You can see the growth in terms of all of the varied projects that people are working on that are part of our network, particularly in this moment.

Why is it important for those interested in economic justice to pay attention to Nashville at this moment?

You know there's a saying that however the South goes so goes the nation. Whatever is really bad in the South - if we cannot improve it here then eventually, it's going to trickle to the rest of the country. History has shown us that. Folks really should understand that what we do in the South, in terms of organizing, in terms of politics, in terms of all the things that we need to change in the economy - if we can't make change on the issues that matter in the South, then how will me make national change? This is a test ground for what happens across the country. But we are movinig to make that change.

*Photo Credit: Nashville CLC.

FJE’s Strike Watch is a regular blog and media series dedicated to providing insight on the ways in which grassroots movements build worker power through direct action. Our ultimate goal: inform philanthropic action to support worker-led power building and organizing and help bridge conversations among funders, community and research partners. We are grateful and acknowledge the many journalists and organizations that produce the content we link to regularly, and to all our participants in first-hand interviews. Questions on the content or ideas for future content? Reach out to robert@nfg.org

August 4, 2020

A Letter from IRSG Members in Honor of Isabel Arrollo

Dear Friends,

Isabel smiling and reaching up to a fruit tree in an orchard.On May 16, 2020, we lost a fierce, beloved leader in California’s Central Valley, Isabel Arrollo. Isabel was the Executive Director of El Quinto Sol de America, an organization founded by her mother, Irma Medellin, based in Lindsay, California. Isabel’s passion and strong strategic lens helped grow El Quinto Sol into a driving force for change in the Central Valley. From her early teenage years, Isabel worked at her mother’s side, lifting up community voices in local and state decision-making, and supporting residents across Tulare County’s unincorporated communities by connecting youth to arts and cultural work, and uplifting the tools to build civic participation and political power in the community. In recent years, her passion and vision to create an Agroecology Center in the Central Valley has lit a flame — one that we need to keep aglow.

In addition to the collective deep grief and sadness at this time, we are also angry and frustrated by the accumulated conditions of environmental, economic, and racial injustices that facilitated the process of her passing. We understand that extractive systems like industrial agriculture, subsidies that perpetuate land tenureship rooted in the forced migration of peoples and Beings, the exploitation of workers, and the polluting of the water she bathed in and the air she gasped onto holding onto the hope of survival and thriving of her people and their knowledge, are responsible for her illness of Valley fever, her death, and for the displacement of life of her future lineages. This racially targeting phenomenon is a form of prolonged violence, and as allies and co-conspirators in the struggle for justice, we need to show up to defend our neighbors and human relations.

We honor the life labor Isabel held as an organizer and community member, which went far beyond her role as Director at El Quinto Sol. She supported her community every day, and also invited folks outside of the community to witness and learn about the issues that are often invisibilized via the dust of pesticides and toxins, and the shadows of the fields. This included hosting funder tours for our philanthropic community during which she generously extended her energy to educate visitors and allies on the intersection of issue areas, and with great skill found multiple ways to illuminate the work for a wider audience, and moved us toward a tangible transition of wealth and power. She did this even while her health was failing; she did it for the livelihood and wellness of her people and her community.

Losing Isabel is heartbreaking, and our hearts are with her family, her co-workers at EQS, her wide and diverse network of friends and co-conspirators, and the many folks she mentored and stood beside every day, including youth and mixed documentation status farmworker communities. She dedicated her life to protecting the health of our air, water, soil, and peoples. Isabel was a brilliant visionary who helped lead the Community Alliance for Agroecology, and held such beautiful, powerful dreams for transforming the Central Valley’s food and farming systems from the ground up. Isabel will be forever remembered as a fierce advocate and as our caring and thoughtful friend who always made time to listen and offer words of encouragement, joy, and laughter. In this global moment of so much pain, loss and fear, we are called to action to uplift the voice and vision of leaders like Isabel, and carry them forward.

We ask that you seriously and thoughtfully consider these two requests:

  1. Isabel speaking to a group in front of a neighborhood bus stop.Make a contribution at this moment, at whatever level, to the environmental health and justice — and agroecological — organization, El Quinto Sol. The contact there is Olga Marquez, olga@elquintosoldeamerica.org.
  2. Become a funder accomplice in achieving Isabel’s and others’ dreams in the San Joaquin Valley — join us in support of the creation of an Agroecology Training Center, by and for a collective of Latinx and Indigenous farmworking families, Indigenous people from the region, and other family farmers. El Quinto Sol, as well as other groups like the Community Alliance for Agroecology, Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), Foodlink Tulare County, Quaker Oaks Farm, and Central Valley Partnership are moving forward in their visioning and planning, and seek collaboration with funding partners, especially in this moment.

If you would like to learn more about El Quinto Sol and the Agroecology Training Center, or if you are interested in collaborating with us as we move forward, please reach out to one of us (contacts below).

In the meantime, read inspiring coverage of the work of El Quinto Sol here: https://civileats.com/2019/08/12/this-mother-daughter-team-is-building-new-leaders-in-californias-farm-country/
 

Thank you, and be well,

Paola Diaz (paola@11thhourproject.org)

Marni Rosen (marni@colibrigiving.com)

Sarah Bell (sarah@11thhourproject.org)

Kat Gilje (gilje@cerestrust.org)

Kassandra Hishida (kassandrahishida@allianceforagroecology.org)