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Groundswell’s Approach

“We made the grant to Groundswell because their model, which is unique, has measurable outcomes and engages the communities that need to be a part of our movement.”

— Anonymous Funder

In the U.S., the majority of people support reproductive justice but the majority of policies and systems do not. This gap can only be bridged when the people organizing a strong grassroots base to hold decision makers accountable receive the resources they need to succeed. At Groundswell Fund, we resource the most effective grassroots efforts for change.

 

Blueprint-Bridge

We all deserve reproductive justice. From determining if, when and how we will have children, to living and raising our families in communities free of violence and environmental toxins, we should all have the power to make decisions about our bodies, families and futures. All too often, our reproductive health and well-being are jeopardized, not just by lack of access to information and health care, but also by economic inequality, immigration status, incarceration, environmental pollution, gender discrimination and other barriers. Women of color, low-income women, and transgender people bear the brunt of this problem.

At Groundswell Fund, we believe that those closest to the problem are also best able to develop strategies to achieve solutions.

Since our inception, Groundswell has granted more than $32 million to the U.S. reproductive justice (RJ) movement — the primary movement engaging women of color, low-income women, young people, and LGBT people as grassroots activists on reproductive issues.

Groundswell funds more RJ organizations annually than any other foundation.

Our Mission: Groundswell supports a stronger, more effective U.S. movement for reproductive justice by mobilizing new funding and capacity building resources to grassroots organizing and policy change efforts led to empower low income women, women of color and transgender people.

We envision a well-resourced reproductive justice movement with the grassroots power to win meaningful policy and systems change now and long into the future.

For more than a decade, we have enabled a growing community of foundations and individual donors to increase the impact of their giving to this movement by offering them a different kind of philanthropic model and community:

  1. Different in who we are: Our program staff come directly out of community and labor organizing, and have a combined 70 years of grassroots organizing and civic engagement experience within communities of color. Our board of directors is comprised of grassroots leaders shaping strategy alongside funders and donors.
  2. Different in whom we support: women of color (WOC), low-income women and transgender people who are organizing at the grassroots level; reflecting our deep belief that resourcing those most impacted by injustice to lead is the most effective way to win reproductive justice for the greatest number of people in this country.
  3. Different in how we support the field: through grants and capacity-building resources focused on boosting grassroots power, and funder organizing that lifts up our grantees with a larger community of funders and donors who can move resources to their work, whether or not these resources come through our doors.

Today we support more RJ organizations than any other foundation in the country. Our grantees have grown from trepidation about the political process to engaging thousands of voters. They have been instrumental in the passage of nearly 200 pro-RJ policies and in blocking many regressive policies, and they have built a growing grassroots base of support for RJ across the U.S.

Close this gap and win: why supporting RJ matters

The moment is ripe for the RJ movement to achieve determinative power. Public opinion polls show that the majority of people in the U.S. support reproductive justice, including the ability to access abortion services and contraception. The steady erosion of reproductive justice over the past decade has not occurred because of the majority public sentiment, but despite it. The chasm between public opinion and anti-RJ public policy decisions exists because the RJ movement lacks a grassroots base organized and powerful enough to hold public officials accountable. As a result, well-funded, anti-RJ forces and institutions have been able to advance their agendas with impunity. There is an unprecedented opportunity to close this gap and win decisive, large-scale policy victories now and in the coming years by supporting RJ organizations to grow their infrastructure and “skill and scale” their organizing.

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There is a demographic sea change underway in the U.S. By 2020, 40 percent of all eligible voters will be millennials. People of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population by 2042. Unmarried women of all races and ages comprised nearly a quarter of all voters in the last presidential election. Popularly known as the New American Majority (NAM), these constituencies have the potential to shape the direction of every major social issue of our time.

The NAM trends progressive on reproductive issues. However, demography alone is not destiny. Effective organizing and mobilizing are essential if these demographic changes are to manifest as progressive change. NAM constituencies are most efficiently organized and mobilized by their own trusted leaders who focus on addressing the priorities identified by the communities themselves. The RJ movement is the leading force engaging the NAM as activists and organizers on reproductive issues. It cannot reach its potential without adequate support.

RJ organizations face two significant barriers to strengthening and scaling their work. The first is inadequate funding, particularly for local and state-level efforts. The second is a lack of access to the tools and technologies needed to “skill and scale” their grassroots power-building. The near-total absence of voter engagement from the RJ movement’s toolbox historically, and the lack of systems to rigorously benchmark and track the growth and strength of a grassroots’ base are two examples.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 2.11.49 PMThe goal of Groundswell’s new Blueprint (2015-2019) is to remove these barriers and bring RJ power building to scale.[1] Groundswell will move $30M in grant and capacity-building support to the RJ movement during these five years. As we look ahead, we believe that our level of vision, courage and commitment in this next decade must match that of our grantee partners, who are leading some of the most innovative and gutsy RJ campaigns and initiatives in the country. Just as they are — but in the context of philanthropy and in partnership with them — we must set ambitious goals, devise creative strategies and win. Our new five-year Blueprint is designed to do just that.

 

[1] While often associated with a large number, “scale” at Groundswell refers to the specific amount of power needed in a particular area to shift power relations and policy.