Amplify Community Power
Investing directly in grassroots power and organizations is a new area of work for Convergence Partnership, and a direct result of listening to our community and funding partners. The Partnership recognizes that power matters, thus the wisdom, voice, and agency of people — particularly low-income people of color — must be prioritized and elevated to change policies and systems. Philanthropy then must steward resources and decision-making power into the hands of communities to design solutions that impact their lives. The Partnership is committed to supporting communities of color in building and shifting power in intersectional and transformative ways. Using a community-driven approach, the Partnership will invest directly in efforts that increase community power and agency to drive long-term structural change and transform racist policies and systems. Specifically, Convergence Partnership will provide support and resources to:
- Bolster local and statewide equity movement infrastructure and campaigns;
- Spur and support inclusive governance and decision-making processes;
- Advance a policy agenda shaped and driven by grassroots and community leaders; and
- Strengthen relationships across grassroots campaigns and movements to create better alignment across issues and constituencies.
The goal is to support communities who have been historically and systematically denied power, voice, and access by providing them the resources needed to take the lead and have a say in the solutions that will impact their health and lives.
Convergence Partnership Grassroots Investments
While this is a newer area of work for the Partnership, its origins began with an experimental grant in 2014 to an informal group of advocates and organizers working to develop a shared statewide agenda to hold lawmakers accountable to low-income communities of color. Their efforts were specifically focused on the California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (State Bill 375), a pioneering bill designed to reduce carbon emissions through regional transportation planning. Read more about this effort here.
This investment demonstrated the power of leaning into the leadership of local advocates and embracing the power of grassroots organizing. Building off of this work and responding to changing community and political contexts in 2017, Convergence Partnership engaged in a series of internal and external discussions to re-examine how our grantmaking could better support racial and health equity. The Partnership invested in seven promising place-based efforts that advance health equity by leveraging existing partnerships, political opportunities, local leadership and momentum, along with four national organizations to provide technical assistance to the funded places and broader Convergence Network members around narrative change, food systems and policy, local economic development, and grassroots organizing and power building. Read more about the 2018-2019 Convergence investments here.
The context changed drastically in early 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19. The impacts of the pandemic are clearly linked to the Partnership’s vision of racial justice and health equity and its three core strategies. As the Partnership observed the overwhelming philanthropic response to the pandemic, there was a clear opportunity to contribute to efforts working toward an equitable recovery process from COVID-19 while also laying the critical groundwork for the Partnership’s longer-term vision.
Beginning in May 2020, Convergence provided support to 19 grassroots leaders and organizations in seven places across the country working toward an equitable recovery and rebuilding of the nation from COVID-19. These rapid response grants were intended to fill a notable resource gap for grassroots organizations — funding critical organizing work and planning to ensure these groups have the capacity to adapt local and state policy campaigns to the rapidly changing environment. These investments by the Partnership are helping to address shorter-term organizing needs, ensuring grassroots groups are able to engage effectively in directing state and federal investments toward an equitable recovery and rebuilding from the pandemic, and aligning and scaling up local organizing and power-building efforts for longer-term statewide and national policy wins. For more information on the grantees, click here.