Last fall, the Ford Foundation invited Community Partners to participate in a learning community of 10 intermediary organizations that provide fiscal sponsorship and/or grants to “people-serving” groups. These have been defined as groups led by, and that primarily serve, people outside of traditional spheres of power -- immigrants, people of color, low-income youth, members of the LGBTQIA community and others. This effort is an outgrowth of Ford’s BUILD initiative, a five-year, $1 billion investment in the long-term capacity and sustainability of hundreds of social justice organizations around the world.
Accordingly, the learning network is exploring how intermediaries can provide high-quality services to groups with deeper attention to equity and in ways that are financially sustainable. And how might philanthropy support these intermediary organizations, so they remain strong for the people-serving groups that rely on them?
Last month, members of the learning network met in person for the first time at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice in New York to address these questions through an “action learning” process, which involves questioning, reflecting, and group dialogue to identify possible solutions. Each participating intermediary organization was asked to go back to their home organizations and continue discussing key questions raised in the February learning network, which will reconvene in July.
This process reflects the Ford Foundation’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; the Foundation believes that having varied perspectives helps generate better ideas to solve the complex problems communities face. We look forward to applying what we learn through this process to further strengthen Community Partners’ role as a fiscal sponsor and intermediary.
-Sheri Dunn Berry