Why Convergence

The Convergence Partnership showcases a new philosophy and approach for philanthropic collaboration. It is demonstrating the value of equity-focused, cross-sector efforts that create leverage and synergy, and yield co-benefits. It is creating a new “field of fields,” where connections and collaborations across an array of fields are recognized as bringing strategic impacts with multiple benefits. Thus, the Convergence Partnership is focused on advancing healthy people and healthy places by supporting multifield, multisector policy and environmental changes that create the conditions that allow all to reach their full potential.

At the local, state, regional, and national levels, the Partnership engages in strategic investments and activities that lead to transformational change. This has required a new way of grantmaking and a new way of working together.

The elements that translate into the “Convergence difference” will continue to be prioritized and integrated into its investments and activities. The elements include:

  • Advancing equity, first and foremost: Equity serves as the lens through which all Partnership decisions are made, from what is funded and who is funded to when and how the Partnership uses its collective voice.
  • Using collaboration to redefine the boundaries of philanthropy: In acting together, the Partnership is not simply trying to meet individual organizational needs, but rather is going above and beyond organizational imperatives to achieve greater and more expansive impact.
  • Adopting strategic opportunism: The Partnership uses an adaptive, asset-based analysis to assess the benefit of its joint investments and activities in advancing its overall goals, and it applies this analysis to each specific strategy.
  • Building a network and philanthropic community of practice: The concept of “convergence” extends beyond the national partners and is deeply reflected in the network, an emerging field of equity-focused grantmakers committed to advancing healthy people and healthy places through joint action and policy and practice changes. For examples of our work in the field, please visit the Convergence Network section.

The following reflect impacts from the 2018-2019 place-based investments across seven places:

  • Place-based grantees have restructured decision-making tables to redistribute power to grassroots leaders and community residents.
  • Convergence funding has helped to bridge and mend relationships across sectors and movements, and has allowed community leaders and residents to collaborate in transformative ways.
  • Place-based grantees have increased their capacity in examining and disentangling the damaging narratives that are playing out in places, which has shifted and sharpened their messaging and framing in advocacy campaigns and state and national policy conversations.
  • Increased capacity of foundations, government and organizations to advance equity driven policies and practices.
  • Funders have changed grantmaking practices and strategies to move beyond transactional relationships toward sharing and shifting decision-making power to community grantees and grassroots leaders.

In the more than 12 years since the launch of the Convergence Partnership, the answer to “why Convergence” is tangibly evident:

  • Invested more than $22 million to support grantmaking and advocacy strategies that influence policy change, promote greater investments that advance equitable policies and practices, and build a network and philanthropic community of practice that spreads and amplifies the Convergence agenda at the local, state, and regional levels.
  • Expanded access to healthy food through the 2014 Farm Bill by supporting inclusion and implementation of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives program, and regional food systems innovation.
  • Helped advance transit equity nationally and locally by supporting the Transportation Equity Caucus’ and Transportation  for America’s federal and local efforts, and the integration of equity considerations into the implementation of California’s landmark bill on climate change.
  • Established a national network of more than 80 philanthropic organizations representing more than 40 local and regional sites across the country, leveraging significant resources from philanthropic and public sources. In October 2014, the Partnership launched its first Convergence Leadership Institute with a two-day intensive training program attended by members of the Convergence Network. These efforts have changed philanthropic practice and built the leadership, capacity, and commitment of philanthropy to engage in multifield collaborations, to advance equity, and to support the adoption of local and state policies and environmental changes.
  • Informed the structure and approach of CDC grant programs through Partnership and regional network advocacy efforts. As a result, Convergence language and priorities around community prevention were included in a new round of federal funding opportunities.
  • Built relationships through the Convergence Partnership that have resulted in partners working together in different groupings, launching new organizations and joint efforts including The Partnership for a Healthier America, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research, and state-based partnerships to improve access to healthy food.