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Bolder Together: Foundation Leaders Share New Approach to Funder Collaboratives

How can foundations help build movements for opportunity and social change… and win? An innovative partnership of 10 foundations is working in four counties in California to increase civic participation in communities of color and among low-income populations. The California Civic Participation Funders is made up of a diverse group of funders, including the Rosenberg Foundation and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, who are working on a wide range of progressive policy issues, from community health and immigration to economic justice, LGBT equality, criminal justice and women’s rights.

This group of ten funders, large and small, came together in early 2010 with the shared goal of increasing civic participation among underrepresented populations.  Now we’re releasing the first case study of our work, published by the Haas, Jr. Fund. The case study explores what’s unique about this funder collaborative aimed at collective impact, what it’s accomplished so far, and where it’s going. Representatives of the partner foundations reflect on how the group came together, what keeps everyone at the table and what’s working (so far) to support civic engagement efforts in the four targeted counties. Among the keys to the collaborative’s success: a unique model of autonomous decision making where each of the participating foundations selects which parts of the larger group’s strategy to support.

“There is a lot of talk in philanthropy today about the importance of collaborating, networking and bringing our collective resources to bear on the problems that we are working with our nonprofit and community partners to solve,”  leaders from the 10 foundations explained in a joint letter announcing the case study. “Working toward a shared goal—increased civic participation among underrepresented populations—we have come together to explore what communities truly need to successfully address this issue, and to bring a critical mass of support to this work in four strategic counties in California.”
Read the letter
Read the case study

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