More About Funders for a Just Economy

Discount Foundation Legacy Award


Journey Towards Intersectional Grant-Making


May 2018 | Prepared by Mari Ryono, Design by Marco Loera

The goals of the Working at the Intersections program of the Funders for a JustEconomy are to create a supportive community in which funders can learn about intersectional grant-making together and create at least the beginnings of a central framework on economic justice grant making through an intersectional lens. There are two key steps we took towards these goals from Fall 2017 to Winter 2017/2018:

  • We interviewed a dozen leaders within philanthropy (FJE members and key thought partners from NFG overall) to inform our understanding of intersectional grant-making. The approach was an appreciative inquiry to affirm that there is a great deal of expertise in the field.
  • We convened eighteen colleagues within philanthropy for an in-person strategy session in Los Angeles in January 2018. At this convening, we invested in relationship-building; deepened our understanding of how slavery, genocide, the settler state, and heteropatriarchy have shaped our economy (through a discussion with community and worker organizing leaders); talked honestly about the challenges within philanthropy, the root causes, our vision, and our values; and began to create a blueprint for our work together in 2018 and beyond.

This learning within Funders for a Just Economy led us to develop 12 best practices for intersectional grant-making that are described in the Journey Towards Intersectional Grant-Making report. The practices also build on past work including the #BlackWorkersMatter and the Institute for Policy Studies’ And Still I Rise: Black Women Labor Leaders’ Voices / Power / Promise reports, and the work of NFG’s Project Phoenix.

Download the 12 Best Practices here.

Download the full report here.

The Funders for a Just Economy Alabama Learning Tour Website

November 2017 | Montgomery, Selma, Uniontown, Birmingham - Alabama

The Neighborhood Funders Group’s Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) brought 27 funders from across the U.S. to Alabama in November 2017. They met with local funders and grassroots organizations to learn about movement building strategies being implemented for economic Justice. The learning tour started in Montgomery, and ended at Birmingham City Hall. In between funders learned about economic justice issues in Uniontown – a rural part of the state – and walked the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Explore the videos in this site to experience the tour, and learn about the economic justice organizing happening in Alabama, and throughout the south.

Journey with us through the website here!

New Southern Strategies Report: Employment, Workers’ Rights and the Prospects for Regional Resurgence

October 2017 | Funders for a Just Economy | University of Illinois at Chicago

What will it take to win successful economic justice campaigns in the South? With many families facing chronically low wages and economic insecurity, an understanding and attention to the political economy of the South can help funders and field organizations develop successful intervention strategies. 

The New Southern Strategies: Employment, Workers’ Rights and the Prospects for Regional Resurgence report by Nik Theodore assesses economic indicators affecting quality of life in the South and examines corporate strategies that are driving these changes. It presents some of the efforts underway in the region to improve the quality of economic opportunity through labor organizing and strengthening workers’ rights, focusing on the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Funders for a Just Economy launched the report in a webinar with speakers sharing highlights from the report, examining how the history of systemic racism has maintained corporate power and limited efforts to improve workers' rights, and discussing how recent unionization efforts in Tennessee and Mississippi impact the outlook for future organizing nationwide. Learn more about the webinar here.

Transnational Workers Rights: Emerging Strategies from the Global North and South

April 2015 | Great Cities Institute | College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs University of Illinois at Chicago

This report was commissioned by the Society for Labour and Development (based in India), the Project of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC, based in Mexico), and the National Guestworkers Alliance, three labor rights organizations developing transnational strategies for organizing workers in low-wage industries. Economic globalization has created new strains on labor forces and communities, and the increasing mobility of capital (and with it the threat of exit, disinvestment, and job loss) poses unique challenges to traditional models of labor organizing.

The substantial power wielded by transnational corporations and their supplier firms must be met head-on through transnational worker organizing that raises standards across supply chains and in workplaces throughout the Global North and South. The leverage transnational corporations exert over national development agendas, regulatory systems, and labor market institutions must be counteracted by collective strategies on the part of workers and their organizations to ensure that the global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions is reversed. Without such strategies, global inequalities will surely continue to widen.

This report identifies several key trends shaping the global economy, and highlights innovative strategies to build worker power, raise labor standards, reduce poverty, and increase the returns from trade for low-wage workers and their communities. The report has four chapters.

The first examines three major trends shaping employer demand for labor—financialization, the globalization of production, and the informalization of employment—and how these have shaped emergent approaches to transnational worker organizing. Chapters two, three and four present case studies of transnational organizing:

(a) the Asia Floor Wage campaign which seeks to establish a regional living wage in Asia’s apparel industry;

(b) ProDESC’s approach to bi-national organizing focusing on the impacts of extractive industries in Mexico and temporary guestworker programs in the US; and

(c) the National Guestworkers Alliance’s efforts to organize workers along the retail supply chain, with a focus on an organizing campaign at Wal-Mart supplier, C. J.’s Seafood, in the US.

This report was funded by the Ford Foundation.