Capacity Building Fund 2023 Update


Image created by Jai the Sketch Guy

We believe that a key strength of intersectional organizing is 360˚ vision. With a wide angle, Groundswell captures the overlapping dimensions of identity, historical context, and power dynamics to develop stronger, smarter communities.

Aligned with Groundswell’s Blueprint, our Capacity Building program – and the entire organization – uses a decolonization lens to sharpen our shared vision, strategies, and tactics in race, class, and gender. This looks like funding in collaboration rather than competition, providing unrestricted multiyear grants, investing in local leadership, and co-designing programs based on the needs of our grantees.

This year, we have several exciting developments from our Grassroots Organizing Institute (GOI) and our Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) program. IVE and GOI grantees continue to center the needs of Black, Indigenous, trans, and gender-expansive people of color. Grantees prioritize food security, access to health care, housing security, and climate justice, which are reproductive justice issues.

Through their political education and organizing of the community and voters, they engage people in more in-depth conversations about abortion access, comprehensive sex education, economic justice, bodily autonomy, and health care access, including for people living with HIV.

In 2023, GOI and IVE grantee partners have also been mobilizing at the state level to fight back against anti-abortion and anti-trans legislation, as well as protect state-level access to abortion and gender-affirming health care. As the year ends, IVE and GOI will welcome three GOI and five IVE grantees into their respective 2024 cohorts.

Integrated Voter Engagement

The IVE program supports leading reproductive justice grantee partners with a deep investment of resources to increase nonpartisan integrated voter engagement. The goal is to engage historically underrepresented populations in policy, systems change, and the democratic process within and beyond election cycles.

By the end of 2023, we will move $3.5 million in grants and provide $1.5 million in technical support to capacity-building grantees.

In September 2023, Groundswell held the annual IVE Convening in North Carolina, where we brought together our 15 grantees to connect, collaborate, and have time for peer-to-peer learning. Workshops covered Integrated Voter Engagement basics/overview, political education, IVE organizer math, campaign strategy, and compliance training.

IVE Grantee Highlights

Miami Workers Center


Miami Workers Center (MWC) is a member-led workers center in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The center builds power with working-class tenants, workers, women, and families. MWC’s long-term vision is a Miami-Dade in which folks can all live in their full dignity with self-determination over their bodies, labor, and neighborhoods. Through leadership development and grassroots campaigns, they seek to transform workplaces and neighborhoods to win the respect, rights, and resources everyone deserves.

Photo courtesy of Miami Workers Center

Currently, MWC is working on three primary campaigns:

1) Ending the Unjust Expiration of Section 8 Vouchers

2) Domestic Worker Bill of Rights

3) Tenant Right to Counsel

MWC is shifting the narrative about the issues that matter to their membership and base by ensuring that the coverage from media uplifts the stories of directly impacted folks. Additionally, MWC is incorporating healing justice work by hosting beach days celebrating its members with food, joy, and compañerismo.

Freedom, Inc.


Freedom, Inc. is a Wisconsin-based grantee, fights for bodily autonomy because they understand the grave impact an abortion ban would have in Wisconsin. Freedom, Inc understands the impacts would be even greater for Black, Queer, trans folks, and Black youth experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault.


Photo courtesy of Freedom, Inc.

Freedom Inc. community members and organizers fought, organized, and continued building electoral power last spring by getting out the vote. They led voter engagement and education efforts, which helped elect a more value-aligned state Supreme Court justice.

Freedom, Inc.’s organizing then led to a victory in the Dane County Circuit Court’s rulings on July 7 and August 14, confirming the Wisconsin Stat. 940.04 does not prohibit consensual medical abortions, and Planned Parenthood WI resumed the full scope of health services, including abortion care, as of Monday, September 18. Freedom Inc. organizers will continue organizing until bodily autonomy is codified in Wisconsin’s legislation.

GOI Grantee Highlights

The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects

The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects (LBGP) is a community-based organization in Jackson, Mississippi, working to be a revelatory, unflickering light for Black girls and young women in the southeastern United States. Programming focuses on creating spaces of solidarity and safety.

LBGP organizes for improved conditions around maternal health, reproductive justice, food justice, and economic justice for Black women and girls. Their organizing focuses on pushing for legislation that will ensure investment in rural counties so that mothers have access within a reasonable distance of their homes. Black Girl Projects has identified that their community is often ignored due to low voter turnout and one of its long-term goals is to increase voter turnout while also holding elected officials accountable during periods outside of elections.


Photo courtesy of The Lighthouse | Black Girl Project


One of the organization’s primary strategies is the leadership development of Black girls and women to address their physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being while being supported in an affirming socio-political structure. Coaching through GOI is supporting LBGP in aligning its strategic plan with its goal of being led by the communities that it serves and supporting the development of an invested base of organized community members. The tools, technology, and training that the GOI provides have strengthened Black Girl Projects’ plan with clear steps on how to reach their broader vision.

Black Phoenix Organizing Collective

Black Phoenix Organizing Collective builds grassroots community power through education and leadership development in Phoenix, AZ. The organization, founded in 2019, began organizing primarily on a virtual basis and is committed to building Black power through political education, creating independent, self-reliant, and generative alternatives to systems of oppression.

BPOC has invested in doing interviews with justice-impacted community members to better understand the reasons why folks do not call on the police through the #WhyIDidn’tCall Campaign. These efforts work towards building community alternatives to policing from an abolitionist framework.

This year, BPOC took giant steps towards in-person community engagement while still being committed to disability justice and creating hybrid spaces so everyone can safely show up for various opportunities.


Photo courtesy of Black Phoenix Organizing Project


BPOC organizers moved from primarily engaging in digital organizing and political education into doing in-person outreach and follow-up one-on-one conversations with community members using surveys and listening sessions. They saw the fruits of their labor with a more engaged and invested relationship building that was achieved through these in-person opportunities.

The team has been invigorated in seeing that the community is hungry for the relationship and that they have been building trust through their mutual aid efforts as well as their power-building efforts.

BPOC’s organizing team is growing, and community members are excited to see BPOC as a political home and a space where they want to strategize and move jointly around the issues impacting their communities.


Support the critical work of the Capacity Building Fund

Our grantees are meeting the moment as we continue to fight for bodily autonomy. With a critical 2024 election season approaching, now more than ever is the time to fund grassroots organizing.