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In 1906, the U.S. economy was in shambles. Banking titan Jacob H.. Schiff, who was to become founding chairman of the New York foundation, issued a stern warning that America would face critical failure if the nation didn't modernize its banking and currency systems. There would be "such a panic," he said, "As will make all previous panics look like child's play." The country did not heed his call, and in 1907, economic conditions worsened, the situation capped by two stock market crashes and a global credit shortage. Depositors lined up to take their money out of the banks. A little more than a hundred years later, the U.S. economy plunged once again. This time, investor Warren Buffett shared his view on the crisis, saying the economy has "fallen off a cliff." At first it might seem paradoxical to celebrate grantmaking amid the current economic conditions. But rich traditions of philanthropy deserve special honor not just in flush times, but also in times of greatest need. And one foundation--established in an economically stressful period of American history, when there were few templates for grantmaking--warrants recognition. Even during the toughest times of the past century, that foundation has stubbornly clung to the ideals upon which it was founded: social justice, grassroots giving, and faith in the resilience of New Yorkers. That foundation is the New York Foundation. This is its story.
This brief builds on Streets to Statehouse: Building Grassroots Power in New York, a report released jointly by North Star Fund and New York Foundation in 2020. Streets to Statehouse documents the crucial role of grassroots organizing in achieving progressive policy wins in New York and sowing a more inclusive and responsive democracy. The report calls on funders to resource these movements more deeply to ensure we build upon the progress that has been made. This brief serves as a companion to Streets to Statehouse and lifts up the ways in which grassroots organizing is building electoral power by engaging new constituencies and seeding a new cadre of progressive elected leaders.
The stories shared here illustrate the ways community members are caring for one another while also using strategies that engage and activate people to win a more just and equitable city.By securing collective well-being, these groups are building collective power.
As a long time supporter of the city's vibrant community organizing and advocacy groups, often in their earliest stages, we wanted to illustrate how these organizations — large and small—are often the connective tissue between community members and campaigns to win significant public policy change. We wanted to capture the rich complexity of our grantees' experiences and suspected that the most interesting, compelling parts of what we knew to be true couldn't be easily explained by turning them into data sets.
This report shares the lessons learned from two 2019 statewide campaigns that were led by grassroots organizations working in coalition with broader policy and advocacy networks. Housing Justice for All and Green Light NY won significant changes for low-income renters and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, respectively. The campaigns challenged the model of traditional top-down advocacy by centering directly-impacted people from low-income communities of color in leadership and decisionmaking. Both campaigns also demonstrated that community power can be leveraged between grassroots electoral organizing and issue-based legislative campaigns. Finally, by centering member-led organizations from rural, suburban and urban communities, the campaigns demonstrated how progressive policy changes require long-term investment in groups that build people power across regional difference through shared mass mobilization strategies.
This timeline provides a summary of key moments and grants of the New York Foundation related to racial equity from the 1910s to 2010s.
Service organizations are meeting the immediate needs of their constituents and provide essential supports. At the same time, many of these groups recognize how larger policies and procedures can make their job harder and limit options and opportunities of their program participants. With increasing inequality, slashes in public budgets, and greater demand on their services, nonprofits are looking for new ways to do their work.The set of strategies outlined here describes how some service organizations are integrating social change into their everyday work. Supporting the voice of their service recipients helps participants gain a sense of efficacy and gives organizations new ideas and power to make change.
As a long time supporter of the city's vibrant community organizing and advocacy groups, often in their earliest stages, we wanted to illustrate how these organizations—large and small—are often the connective tissue between community members and campaigns to win significant public policy change. We wanted to capture the rich complexity of our grantees' experiences and suspected that the most interesting, compelling parts of what we knew to be true couldn't be easily explained by turning them into data sets.Determined to draw a fuller picture of what happens when community members come together around common concerns, we decided to ask our grantees directly, and found:1. Wins and accomplishments fell across a wide spectrum.2. Groups used multiple, sophisticated strategies to achieve policy wins and accomplishments.3. Each win or accomplishment had its own distinctive and instructive story with a strong human element.
This document includes a map of a walking tour showcasing New York's diverse Muslim community and data about the community.
In this document, Madeline Lee reflects on grantmaking during her 25 years as Executive Director of the New York Foundation.
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