November 2, 2016

Place Based Community Change: The Time is Now

This September, the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Neighborhood Funders Group convened 100 local, regional, and national funders for Towards a More Resilient Place: Promising Practices in Place-Based Philanthropy. Here, Dawn Phillips, of Right to the City Alliance and Causa Justa :: Just Cause outlines an agenda for place-based change that acknowledges our past and looks to local solutions to guide the future.

Dawn PhillipsBy Dawn Phillips, Right to the City Alliance and Causa Justa :: Just Cause 

The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Neighborhood Funders Group’s Towards a More Resilient Place: Promising Practices in Place-Based Philanthropy convening was provocative and insightful. The gathering explored the importance of place-based community change and its potential to support community transformation towards resiliency and cohesion. If we are to fully realize the ideas discussed at the convening, there has to be clarity about what the approach entails and philanthropy’s role in supporting it. This is that action plan.

Place-based community change is political change. It must transform systems of race, class, and gender injustice. It is a commitment to support communities addressing racialized disinvestment, the role that government has played in driving inequitable development and the fiscalization of land and housing. It has to build the participation and leadership of those historically disenfranchised to advocate for their collective interest. It has to connect the struggles of communities and sectors previously divided and build an inter-sectional movement for social change. Ultimately, it has to develop the capacities of everyone involved to imagine a healthy, just, and people-serving society.

Place-based community change is strategic. It must address immediate issues facing communities as well as change conditions over the long term. It has to engage solutions that promote community stabilization in the short term, support community-led planning and development in the medium term, and ensure community control and ownership in the long term. It has to support communities to stay in place and benefit from new investment and development in their neighborhoods. It has to ensure that vulnerable, longtime residents are central in designing and deciding the type of development most needed in their communities. It is a commitment to supporting anti-displacement efforts that promote truly affordable housing, strong tenant rights, and housing security for those who need it most. Place-based change is particularly important because the most dynamic and innovative solutions are being developed at the local level right now.

Place-based community change is both possible and necessary. Our communities are a reflection of many decades of public policy and investment. From housing covenants, redlining, Urban Renewal, suburbanization, policing, and immigration policies, there are a myriad of public policy decisions that create our communities today. If public policy and investment created our neighborhoods, then we can and must redirect those policies and investments to reimagine a new reality. This is a moment of multiple, interconnected crises—historic racial and economic inequity; anti-Black racism; deepening violence against immigrants, communities of color, and women; and much more. It is critical that we stand up to realize transformation at the individual, community, and societal levels. Change is possible and necessary.

There is a clear role for philanthropy in supporting place-based community change. Tell the truth about this moment, name the crisis facing low-income and communities of color nationally, and speak clearly about the need for racial, economic, and gender justice. Lift up the stories of those most impacted by the crisis, and center their voices and experiences in conversations. Talk about the crisis in terms of its impact on the lives of people, not just in terms of data and statistics. Lift up the vision, ideas, and work of organizations building the power and capacities of impacted communities. Leverage your credibility and relationships to support this work. Invest in basebuilding and organizing—not just today, but for the long term. Support impacted communities in coming together, developing shared vision and plans, realizing those dreams, and being able to maintain their collective needs over time. Become an organizer in your field. Support your peers in developing a similar perspective and approach, and work to build broad support for place-based change. Philanthropy can and must be part of this change.

Find More By:

News type: 
February 28, 2020

NFG Newsletter - February 2020

February is Black History Month and, in this newsletter, NFG honors Black resistance. Given the persistence of structural racism and the legacies of segregation, NFG has mobilized philanthropy to support POC-led organizing for equitable development since our start 40 years ago. Through our member-led and local advisor-led programming, we are lifting up how Black communities are reclaiming land ownership and addressing the racial wealth gap through grassroots power building.

At the beginning of the month, NFG’s Amplify Fund staff and steering committee spent a day with local organizers, non-profit leaders, and organizations in Charleston and Edisto Island, South Carolina — one of Amplify’s eight sites. Both national and local grantmakers learned alongside some of Amplify’s grantees, including the Center for Heirs’ Property PreservationLow Country Alliance for Model CommunitiesCarolina Youth Action Project, and South Carolina Association for Community and Economic Development, which are bringing together Black, Latinx communities and youth in the region to fight for community power, land rights, and environmental justice in the face of corporate power, criminalization of communities of color due to gentrification, and land theft.

This week, NFG’s Democratizing Development Program (DDP) hosted a two-day Health, Housing, Race, Equity and Power Funders Convening in Oakland, California. Over 100 participants grappled with how anti-Blackness and xenophobia fuel the complex housing & health crisis and community trauma, and heard examples of concrete organizing wins led by Black women from Moms 4 Housing and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Organizers from around the country urged grantmakers to significantly invest in long-term general operating support, community ownership models, POC leadership, and 501(c)4 funding for Black, Indigenous, and POC communities engaging in policy and systems change around housing affordability and justice. 

From Amplify’s funder collaborative to the DDP convening’s planning committee, funders organizing other funders has been a key part of our work. Funder members: how are you stepping up as an organizer and moving more resources for power building in Black, Indigenous, and POC communities? We invite you to connect with NFG staffprograms, and upcoming events — including our National Convening — and be part of our community where we bring funders together to learn, connect, and mobilize resources with an intersectional and place-based focus. 

The NFG team

Read the full newsletter.

January 23, 2020

NFG Newsletter - January 2020

Animated fireworks with the text "40 Years Strong"

This year marks NFG's 40th anniversary. During our early years, NFG was one of the few spaces in philanthropy specifically focused on people of color-led, grassroots organizing, and power building as the key to effective social change strategies. Today, NFG continues to be many funders' political home at a time when moving resources to struggles for justice is critically important: communities of color are bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, growing wealth and income inequality, and climate change; white nationalist backlash is rising; and our democracy is profoundly threatened. NFG is a space to draw support, deepen relationships, and find co-conspirators as we propel philanthropy to shift power and money towards justice and equity.

In 2020, the NFG network is continuing to explore structural racism in health and housing, racial capitalism, migrant worker justice in rural areas, reimagining community safety and justice, and more. We will also return ‘home’ to NFG’s founding city — Washington, D.C. — for our 2020 National Convening.

As we celebrate 40 years, our dynamic community of grantmakers and grassroots leaders is what makes us strong. This newsletter spotlights The Libra Foundation, an NFG member that shares our commitment to organizing funders in moving more resources to frontline communities and movements.

Keep reading below for more opportunities to engage with NFG. Whether you are new to NFG or a long-time member, we look forward to collaborating with you to accelerate racial, gender, economic, and climate justice.
The NFG team

Read the full newsletter.