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Economic Justice Organizing

The Hill Snowdon Foundation began its Economic Justice Program Area in 2002 to complement its Youth Organizing Program Area. It chose this area in recognition of the fact that the structural and economic inequities faced by low-income workers and families underlie many of the challenges faced by low-income youth of color. Thus, it was not possible to improve the conditions for low-income youth without also improving the conditions for low-income families. HSF also chose this area because of its longstanding commitment to reducing the gap between the “haves and the have nots.”

Beginning with support for organizing around welfare ‘reform’ re-authorization, HSF expanded to support organizing efforts around contingent workers and day laborers, low-wage workers in the South and a range of “new ideas” including community benefits agreements, access to healthcare and living wages.   In 2007, HSF further refined its focus to support organizing that strengthened the “Public Good” and multi-ethnic/multi-racial alliance building to re-knit and expand the social safety net and base of political power for low income families and communities.  At this time HSF also decided to award approximately 70% of our funds to economic justice organizing in the South, while reserving 30% of our funds for organizations based in other regions whose work exemplifies our new focus on organizing for the public good.


New Strategic Focus
In 2012, to reflect changing needs, opportunities and challenges, HSF is again refining the focus of its Economic Justice grantmaking program.  We will continue to support multi-issue grassroots community organizing but with a particular focus on groups or campaigns centered on promoting family-supporting and community-strengthening jobs.  While there are many ways to promote strong families and thriving communities, we feel that access to well-paying jobs that can support a family is one important way to address growing income inequality and the widening gap between haves and have-nots in our society.  We are interested therefore in improving both the quality and quantity of jobs for historically disenfranchised workers or communities.  HSF intends to focus on supporting community-based organizations working on economic justice issues that address systemic supports for low wage workers and their families.

While there is significant overlap between our two categories, examples include the following:

  • Family Supporting:  Improving wages and work conditions; advancing better work-family policies such as paid sick days, family leave and more accommodations for working parents like taking paid time off for school activities; improving access for workers to jobs in their communities and prevent discrimination based on gender, race, age, immigration status or sexual orientation.
  • Community Strengthening: demanding community-benefit agreements for publically-funded projects that include features such as local hiring, training, and ‘clawbacks’ for employer who don’t meet hiring targets; protecting the right to organize into unions or other collective bargaining units.

By adopting this focus we anticipate the following outcomes:

  • Significant improvements in job quality—better wages, benefits and work conditions in low wage sector jobs, especially in the South.
  • Stronger enforcement of worker protection and less discrimination against or fewer barriers for undocumented workers.
  • Stronger strategic alliances between labor, community and worker organizations that are working to strengthen the quality of jobs to ensure there isn’t a race to the bottom, but rather for jobs that can support a family and help communities thrive.


Beginning in Fall 2012, we will prioritize the following criteria when considering new groups for funding:

  • Based in the South or Southwest
  • Must employ a community organizing approach to systems, institutional or policy level change (we do not support research, advocacy, service programs that are not grounded in a community organizing model).
    • Use a cross-racial or multi-ethnic alliance building strategy to build power
    • Engage in multi-generational organizing, involving young people in leadership roles
    • Integrate civic participation or voter engagement strategies into their ongoing efforts wherever possible.
    • Employ a sophisticated racial and gender justice frame


Consideration for funding with the Hill Snowdon Foundation is by invitation only.  

Due to budget constraints, consideration for new grants will be extremely competitive over the next three years.

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