Created in 1980 as an association of grantmaking institutions, the Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) seeks to “build the capacity of philanthropy to advance social justice and community change.” Specifically, it promotes the redistribution of “political and economic power” for the benefit of “low and moderate income communities” across the United States. On the premise that America is a nation awash in “racism, bigotry and other forms of intolerance,” NFG requires its grantees to demonstrate “inclusiveness” and “diversity” in terms of the “ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, class, religion and philosophy” of their staff and leadership.
NFG administers its philanthropy through four major workng groups:
(1) The Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP) working group—lamenting the “under-investment in a Southern social justice infrastructure by progressives at the national level”—supports organizations that promote “structural change” designed to benefit “those who are least well off socially, economically, and politically in the South.” A number of GSP’s efforts have been backed by George Soros‘s Open Societies Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Ms. Foundation for Women.(2) The Working Group on Housing Justice and Community Transformation seeks to address the “structural inequality and discrimination” that, “throughout U.S. history,” has “limited housing choices for low-income people and communities of color.” In an effort to secure “racial and economic justice” for these communities, NFG brings together alliances of funders, advocates, policymakers, and “thought leaders” to combat “exclusionary zoning and other barriers that limit the availability of [taxpayer-funded] affordable housing.”
(3) The Working Group on Labor and Community Partnerships, which was formed in the mid-1990s, is a national network of funders committed to “advancing the philanthropic conversation about economic and social justice, and the centrality of unions in those efforts.” It laments that too many workers “earn poverty wages of less than $10 an hour”; that “working families are increasingly likely to lack health care coverage, an affordable place to live, an opportunity for career advancement and a decent education for their children”; that the “gap in wealth, income and political influence” is rising throughout the United States; and that too many “immigrant workers”—i.e., illegal aliens—are highly “vulnerable to the most extreme forms of exploitation” by American employers. To address these matters, NFG supports organizations that favor: (a) “public subsidies” to fund “campaigns for a living wage, increases to the minimum wage, [and] paid sick days and family leave”; and (b) legislation making it easier for workers to form unions.
(4) The Working Group on Place-Based Community Change focuses on “the structural implications of social, political, and economic inequities inherent in the revitalization process, particularly in poor communities, underserved communities, and communities of color.”Since its inception, NFG has co-funded various projects and organizations with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and numerous others.
Over the years, the members of NFG’s board and steering committee have also been affiliated with a host of other, likeminded, philanthropies such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the New World Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Wiebolt Foundation.
A staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, NFG in 2014 collaborated with the Ford Foundation and the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock to launch a new project called FundersForJustice.org (FFJ), a “virtual organizing space” where funders and affinity groups could connect with one another vis-à-vis “the movement” for “police accountability and racial justice.” NFG was motivated to form FFJ by the famous August 9, 2014 incident where a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black criminal who was attempting to steal the officer’s gun. By NFG’s reckoning, Brown’s death was a result of an excessive use of force by the police. (For details of that incident and the massive wave of anti-police protests and riots that eventually grew out of it, click here.)
To view a list of noteworthy recipients of NFG grants, click here.
For additional information on NFG, click here.