How The Funders Youth Collaborative Sees the Prospects for Youth Organizing

Thursday, January 18, 2018

How The Funders Youth Collaborative Sees the Prospects for Youth Organizing

When a working group of progressive foundations came together in the late 1990s to launch what would become the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO), youth organizing was having a moment in the sun. Leading the charge were funders like the Ford Foundation, the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Surdna Foundation.

While it’s been a bumpy road since then, things have been looking up, lately. According to FCYO’s executive director Eric Braxton, “After the financial crisis of 2008, funding for youth organizing took a major hit. Over the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in interest in the leadership of low income young people and young people of color.”

Whether they’re opposing the “school-to-prison pipeline,” organizing immigrants, or supporting the movement for black lives, many of today’s youth organizers feel newly galvanized. Some groups, of course, are more established than others. In the Trump era, some feel “a new urgency to protect their communities from both hate groups and harmful public policies,” while others “have been experiencing harmful conditions for a long time and... this election was nothing new for them,” said Braxton.

But they all need resources, and while last year saw more funders back movement building, youth organizing hardly tops philanthropy’s priority list. FCYO wants to change that. With support from a number of members, notably the Ford Foundation, it has rolled out a grant program of its own called Pipelines to Power. Supporting work by low-income young people and young people of color, Pipelines to Power provides a cohort of 16 organizations with $40,000 per year for three years (see the full list here). In addition to receiving general operating support, grantees will work together on a power building strategy with the promise of more FCYO support down the line...