Background The Hill-Snowdon Foundation decided to open its home office in Washington, DC because we wanted to contribute to the growth and development of one of America’s most unique cities. As a national social and justice funder with an emphasis on community organizing, we recognized the city’s distinctive place within the political, social and cultural history of the United States. However, we also realized that the practice and infrastructure of community organizing was still in the emergent phase of its development in the District of Columbia. Therefore, we decided to create the Fund for DC to strengthen the practice and culture of community organizing, or resident-led decision making, in the District over the next 15-20 years. Specifically, HSF created the Fund for DC because:
Low income and marginalized families and communities in DC face severe deprivations and disparities, creating an environment that is far from fair or just and counter-intuitive for the nation’s capital.
DC residents are uniquely disenfranchised compared to other US citizens given their lack of US Congressional representation and limited local fiscal and legislative authority.
Although it has great potential, he community organizing infrastructure in DC is relatively new and under-developed,
The prospects are good for achieving significant progressive policy change in DC if low income and marginalized residents built power through community organizing.
Fostering a stronger practice and infrastructure for community organizing in DC is what HSF is best suited to contribute to our home city.
New Strategic Focus After six years of supporting and learning about the community organizing landscape in DC, we will initiate the next phase of the Fund for DC. Over the next three years we will help deepen the capacity of community organizing groups to build power of the power of low and moderate income residents in DC to secure systemic changes necessary for them to thrive. in the District. For instance, many of the groups could benefit from learning how to integrate voter engagement strategies into their organizing work as a means of enhancing their influence with decision makers. Specifically, over the next three years we will:
Continue to fund our current Fund for DC grassroots partners.
Develop and implement a Community Organizing Capacity Buildingprogram for Fund for DC groups. This will include:
A collective training program on integrated voter engagement.
A community organizing capacity building program to enhance specific organizing capacities (e.g., base-building, campaign strategy, communications, etc.) of Fund for DC grassroots partners.
By adopting this focus we anticipate the following outcomes:
Greater ability of local organizing groups to influence local policy decisions and win larger scale changes for low income families and communities in DC.
Greater ability for DC community organizing groups to develop effective campaigns, recruit and engage more residents, and hold elected officials accountable.
More formal, effective and expansive working relationships between community organizing, advocacy and service groups in the District.
Eligibility For the most part, we will not have the resources to make grants to new community organizing groups in DC over the next three years. Instead, we will focus our efforts on strengthening the capacity of existing Fund for DC partners. However, we will endeavor to connect with new groups as they emerge and foster a supportive relationship. We plan to launch the Community Organizing Capacity Building Program in summer 2012 focusing on integrated voter engagement.