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

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri Aug 8 16:54:16 CDT 2014

[ed:  thanks to Moshe for engaging the discussion.]

From: Rabbi Moshe ben Asher & Magidah Khulda bat Sarah 
<kharakim at sbcglobal.net>

Considering the announcement that Interfaith Funders will cease 
operations as a clearinghouse for foundation grants to support 
"organizing as a social change strategy," what is most striking is that 
the notice is juxtaposed with a long list of successful organizing 
campaigns and initiatives.

Why, one wonders, in the light of the extraordinary record of organizing 
successes, do the foundations with the clearest demonstrated commitment 
to organizing decide to stop funding it as a social change strategy? 
What would prompt such a reversal of direction on their part?

Have they concluded that their resources are no longer needed by the 
organizing projects? Hardly.

Do they believe that organizing is about to achieve its most lofty 
objectives, thus obviating the need for further support on their part? 
Not so much.

Or, possibly, do they believe that given the models and methods that now 
dominate organizing, it has more or less reached its maximum potential 
in challenging the inequality of power that is at the bottom of 
virtually every institutional crisis we face as a nation?

On 8/6/2014 3:56 PM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> --------
> [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 recruitment.
> · 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 516-472-2925).
> # # #

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