Community Identified Issues

At the most fundamental or “base” level of our work, the Foundation will support grassroots leadership development and organizing strategies to build a strong base of civic activism and power on a broad range of issues important to local low-income communities. 

Center for Teen Empowerment
Center for Teen Empowerment's youth-police dialogue session (June 5, 2016)

While Boston and Chelsea are now “minority majority” cities, people of color and with immigrant backgrounds are under-represented in decision-making positions in the public and private sectors.  The development of grassroots leaders and activists of color, including immigrants and teens, who are actively engaged in civic and electoral processes ensures that low-income communities play a vital role in identifying issues, working toward solutions and reducing disparities. Community-based organizations that involve and support their constituents in decision-making roles are crucial to promoting civic engagement and leadership development of community members.  Organizations that are run by and serve people of color and immigrants play a particularly critical role in supporting and developing leaders and activists.

What We Will Fund

The Foundation will select applicants for this level of funding base on the extent to which they:

1.     Have leadership development and constituent engagement of low-income communities of color, including immigrants and teens, as a core part of their missions and work and

  • Develop, train and support community members in becoming activists and leaders for collective action;
  • Have community members serving in clear, active leadership and decision-making roles;
  • Have staffs and board members that reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of their communities and are deeply knowledgeable about them
  • If working with youth, also have experience engaging with low-income youth of color, have knowledge of sound youth development practices, and provide connections with caring adults

2.     Are addressing priority issues that are clear and that have been identified by community members as important to them

  • Have an analysis of the issue, how it evolved and its underlying causes
  • Have an articulated organizing approach and strategies, as well a sense of how to gain influence and power to bring about meaningful change
  • Connect with other organizations to pursue mutual goals

3.     Evidence other aspects of solid, overall organizational capacity such as an active and effective board, solid financial and other internal management practices, etc.

When considering requests from new or emerging organizations working with highly under-represented populations in the community, the Foundation will apply the above criteria in a more flexible way.

Key Civic Engagement Terms

Civic engagement is to be involved in social and/or political action, in concert with others, to address issues that impact one’s community, city and/or broader society.

Grassroots activist is a community member who works closely with others to create positive change but not necessarily in a leadership role.  An activist could provide input into strategy development, contact a decision maker, attend a hearing or rally and/or respond to mobilization efforts around a key vote or action.

Grassroots leader is a community member who works to engage others in creating positive change.  A leader could undertake outreach and education, develop organizing strategies, organize events, run meetings and/or speak at public forums or hearings.  Leaders may include elected or appointed office holders, paid staff of community-based organizations and volunteer activists.  The Foundation recognizes that different cultures define a “leader” and “leadership” in different ways