Building Power: How Philanthropy Can Support the Grassroots

Schott is very proud of our partnership with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) and our joint support for grassroots organizing as a critical strategy for ensuring all children have a fair and just opportunity to learn. NMEF’s recent report, Building Power: One Foundation’s Story of Funding Grassroots Organizing and Engagement, provides valuable insight into their theory of change and grantmaking designed to increase support for systems change within school districts and key state and local stakeholders—and build demand to realize that change.

This rigorous examination and the lessons learned are an important catalyst to the dialogue within philanthropy about what it takes to foster authentic participation, and to effectively and equitably support grassroots organizing and advocacy. We urge you to read it—and join the dialogue!

From the report:

Amplifying Historically Marginalized Voices at Decision-Making Tables

Building PowerNMEF knew that a truly grassroots effort would need to engage all types of stakeholders, especially historically marginalized populations who were least likely to experience student centered learning in New England schools and districts. Therefore, the Foundation explicitly selected grantees who represented organizations that were deeply embedded within historically marginalized communities and/or districts that were intentionally seeking to engage their most marginalized students and families. While each grantee partner took a unique approach to the work, they were chosen based on their potential to build and sustain trusting relationships across a broad range of stakeholder groups. NMEF believed that partnerships with these types of community-based grantees had the potential to shift power dynamics between schools, districts and marginalized communities. However, the amount of time and skills necessary to build and sustain these connections was unexpected. Indeed, trusting bonds needed to simultaneously develop between stakeholders at multiple levels: between NMEF and grantees, capacity building consultants and grantees, school/district staff and the Amplifying Student Voice and Leadership and Community Organizing grantees, and Civic and Family Engagement grantees and their local communities.

Read the entire report >