[COMM-ORG] Discuss: Interfaith Funders transitions news release

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Wed Aug 6 15:56:22 CDT 2014

[ed: this seems like a major, and somewhat unsettling, development. I 
would appreciate the perspective of others in case my perspective is out 
of whack.]

From: Kathryn Partridge <interfaithfunders at gmail.com>

From: Interfaith Funders

Contact: Ned Wight, UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, 516-472-2925, 
ned at veatch.org

Date: August 5, 2014

Re: Institutional transition for Interfaith Funders

Interfaith Funders (IF), a funder affinity group incorporated in 1996 to 
increase support for faith-based community organizing, announces that it 
will be ceasing operations in its current configuration effective 
September 1, 2014. Two IF-initiated programs will continue under new 
fiscal sponsorship, and a peer strategy-and-learning circle will also 
continue under the Interfaith Funders name and 501(c)(3) designation.

“In the past year, some IF member foundations have changed their funding 
priorities and ceased funding organizing as a social change strategy,” 
explained IF Board Chair Ned Wight, Executive Director of the Unitarian 
Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock. “These changes prompted a 
reassessment of Interfaith Funder’s viability as a fully-staffed funder 
affinity group.”

The growth and vitality of the field of institution-based community 
organizing is well documented. One of the two programs continuing under 
new fiscal sponsorships is the State of the Field Project, a 
comprehensive research study of the field of institution-based community 
organizing (IBCO) completed in 2011. Publication of additional research 
results will be handled by the Southwest Institute on Religion and 
Society at the University of New Mexico, directed by Dr. Richard Wood, 
principal researcher for the study (as well as a previous IBCO census 
completed in 2001).

The other continuing program is the Interfaith Organizing Initiative 
(IOI), a partnership between leaders from a variety of religious 
denominations, from organizing networks (DART, Gamaliel, IAF, PICO and 
others), from grantmaking programs and from grassroots organizations 
working for social change. The IOI will continue its work addressing 
such issues as mass incarceration and racial injustice under the fiscal 
sponsorship of the Center for Race, Religion and Economic Justice housed 
at the Commonwealth Institute in New York.

Over the course of the past 18 years, Interfaith Funders has marked a 
significant number of milestones, which include the following:

· In a six-year collaborative funding initiative, IF awarded over $1.8 
million in grants to institution-based community organizing (IBCO) 
groups and networks to promote living wages, school and welfare reform, 
economic development for impoverished communities, and organizer 

· Conducted the first ever field-wide, national census of then-emerging 
field of IBCO. The findings were documented in “Faith-Based Community 
Organizing: The State of the Field” (2001) and related pamphlets, in 
partnership with researchers Dr. Richard Wood (U of NM) and Dr. Mark 
Warren (Harvard).

· Updated this census of the now well-established field in 2011, with 
the new data released in an initial report “Building Bridges, Building 
Power: Developments in Institution-Based Community Organizing.” Related 
articles appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Shelterforce, 
Responsive Philanthropy and Catholic publications. Researchers Richard 
Wood (U of NM) and Brad Fulton (Duke) continue to analyze and publish 
from these findings, with a major book forthcoming.

· Partnered with the Ford Foundation on a 2003 study of the role of 
community organizing in congregational development. Publications 
including “Good for the Whole, Good for the Soul: Faith-based Organizing 
and the Renewal of Congregations” are widely circulated by denominations 
and IBCO networks as an effective tool for engaging clergy.

· Created a curriculum for seminary students to engage clergy in 
community organizing, which spun off to work in several rabbinical 
colleges as a project of the Jewish Fund for Justice.

· Brought together organizers, leaders in faith traditions, funders, and 
scholars to discuss the current state and future of the field, and other 
topics of mutual interest. Notable events collectively engaging more 
than 500 attendees took place in Baltimore (2001), Los Angeles (2005), 
Minneapolis (2008), New York (2009 and other), Boston (2010), Denver 
(2011), Washington DC (2012 and other), and San Francisco (2013).

· Presented over four dozen workshops at funder conferences and 
briefings including the Council on Foundations, National Network of 
Grantmakers, Neighborhood Funders Group, Grantmakers Concerned with 
Immigrants and Refugees, and Grantmakers in Education, and at major 
faith community gatherings including Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish and 
Unitarian Universalist.

· Worked with denominational leaders and leadership of national 
organizing networks to convene the Interfaith Organizing Initiative, and 
sponsored annual convenings as well as strategy sessions on health care 
reform (2010), immigration (2012) and mass incarceration (2014).

· Built upon ecumenical networking among funders rooted in Protestant 
denominations through the National Council of Churches by forming 
Interfaith Funders with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and 
other Catholic funders, the Jewish Fund for Justice and the Unitarian 
Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.

· Served as the first “table” bringing together faith-based and secular 
foundations to explore grantmaking in support of community organizing, 
and introduced the role of faith into secular funder venues.

· Provided a learning community for IF members to exchange information 
about best practices in funding IBCO organizations and aligning funding 
strategies. Through bi-annual gatherings and retreats, IF created spaces 
for shared learnings for seasoned grantmakers while mentoring those new 
to the field.

· Informed a wide circle of grantmakers and practitioners, first through 
mailings and articles, and more recently through a website, blog posts 
and e-newsletters.

“We’re very proud of Interfaith Funders’ achievements over the past 18 
years,” Wight said, “and we’re very grateful to our executive directors, 
Jeannie Appleman and Kathy Patridge, who partnered so effectively with 
our funder members.”

While Interfaith Funders will not be staffed after September 1, 2014, 
resources on institution-based community organizing will continue to be 
available at the Interfaith Funders website, www.interfaithfunders.org. 
IF will retain its 501(c)(3) status, and a peer learning circle for 
funders interested in the intersection between systemic social change 
and the work of faith-based organizations is being organized. Funders 
interested in participating in this peer learning circle should contact 
Ned Wight at the UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock (ned at veatch.org or 

# # #

Kathy Partridge
Executive Director
Interfaith Funders
720 494 9011

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