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Power U organizers & Groundswell Fund grantees at the 2018 March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C.

Groundswell Fund Releases 2018 Capacity Building Program and 2018 Reproductive Justice Movement Impact Reports

Every day, our communities are under attack. In the past few days, many of us learned about the modern-day concentration camps being used on the Texas border, where migrant children are being brutalized and held in dehumanizing conditions. Additionally, we are witnessing federal and state efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act and cut off abortion access; voter suppression tactics that systematically target people of color, Indigenous folks, and other vulnerable groups; an increase in murders of trans women; and attacks on the environment to name a few.

In this political moment, we don’t just need short-term policy and electoral wins to counter this wave of regressivism — we need a sustained, vibrant, and organized grassroots base that can compel decision-makers to advance and protect critical gains for our communities today and into the future.

At Groundswell Fund — the largest funder of the U.S. reproductive justice movement and a foundation led by former community and labor organizers who are women of color and transgender people of color — we know that we must push harder in this moment. Our goal is to make sure that all people have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about their gender, bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for themselves, their families, and their communities [1]. In order to do this, we invest holistically in the reproductive justice movement through grant making, capacity building, and funder organizing.

Every year we take some time to assess the impact of our three capacity-building programs (Integrated Voter Engagement, Grassroots Organizing Institute, and Ecosystem Initiative), as well as the impact of our broader funding and work with grantee partners across the reproductive justice movement. Recently released, our 2018 Capacity-Building Program Report and 2018 Power & Vision: Groundswell Fund’s Evaluation of the Reproductive Justice Movement Report show how our grantee partners are responding to today’s political reality through base-building strategies.

Members of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) tabling at local event.

In Alaska, for example, the legacy of toxic contamination from 700 active and abandoned Cold War-era military sites has led to poor reproductive health outcomes across the state but especially in Alaska Native communities. Using an intersectional approach, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) (a participant of Groundswell’s Integrated Voter Engagement program) is activating a powerful grassroots base to advance reproductive and environmental justice issues. As shown in the 2018 Capacity Building Report, ACAT played a significant part in convincing U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court due to his extremist views. ACAT has also won critical fights to protect EPA resources and policy wins, such as the Pesticide-Free Anchorage Ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly in 2017, which protects Alaskan land, water, and vulnerable ecosystems from toxic chemicals and contamination that harm reproductive health.

In New York, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, their families, and their allies are systematically excluded from shaping policy. Bridging reproductive and criminal justice frameworks, the Women in Prison Project (WPP) (a participant of Groundswell’s Grassroots Organizing Institute) is organizing communities impacted by incarceration. WPP members often begin their leadership while incarcerated. Through participation in Groundswell’s capacity building programs, WPP has strengthened opportunities for its members to take on greater levels of leadership, including deeper engagement in organizing efforts of formerly incarcerated women impacted by domestic violence. WPP played a critical role in passing the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) and has helped reduce sentences for many incarcerated folks impacted by domestic violence.

Members of the Miami Workers Center marching in local event.

And in Florida, the Miami Workers Center (a participant of Groundswell’s Grassroots Organizing Institute and Ecosystem Initiative) is building a powerful base to support people impacted by wage theft and workplace abuses. In 2018, they successfully expanded their base of domestic and home-care workers from 300 to 500 in one year, and made more than 4,500 new contacts in their canvassing (more than double from the previous year). They also trained and/or assisted about 50 domestic workers to fight back against wage theft, retaliation, trafficking, and other workplace abuses.

These are just some of the stories of impact of Groundwell’s 36 grantee partners who participated in our capacity-building programs and are featured in the 2018 Capacity-Building Program Report. In 2018, Groundswell dedicated $5.6 million in capacity-building resources to the organizing and civic engagement infrastructure needed to power the reproductive justice movement. Our grantees and movement leaders are standing in their power to confront and challenge systemic inequality and injustice on the local, regional, national, tribal, and international levels.

More broadly, Groundswell leveraged the support of national funders and donors to award grants to 72 reproductive justice organizations and seven grantmaking partners, contributing to an investment of $14.1 million in the reproductive justice movement in 2018.

In total, our grantee partners developed over 35,000 leaders, contacted over 151,000 voters using integrated voter engagement strategies, and organized to block 49 harmful policies while advancing 58 campaigns to support our communities. As you’ll find in the 2018 Power & Vision: Groundswell Fund’s Evaluation of the Reproductive Justice Movement Report, leveraging a powerful grassroots base with a deep understanding of intersectionality has been critical in ongoing and new fights for justice and equality. This includes blocking anti-abortion bills and measures in South Carolina and Oregon; protecting adoption rights for LGBTQ families in Colorado; and defeating anti-immigrant ballot measure in Oregon.

This moment provides a powerful opportunity to dig in deeper; to build wider; to lock arms across sectors; and to move not out of fear but with purpose and clarity, resolution and hopefulness. This is the approach we see when we look at the work of our grantee partners.

Groundswell has inspired a community of over 300 individual donors and 25 foundations to partner with us to resource the reproductive justice movement and other intersectional organizing — by supporting more than 100 grantees across the U.S. We invite you to join us!