The Movement Building Initiative Celebrates Six Years of Success

Published on Dec 7, 2011

On Wednesday, November 30th, the Astraea foundation held a U.S. Movement-Building Initiative (MBI) celebration dinner with its grantee partners prior to the historic BOLD! Gathering. Twenty-four organizers from fourteen grantee organizations and Astraea staff gathered together at a downtown Minneapolis restaurantto honor the program’s six successful years. Conversation filled the air as dinner attendees reflected on the significant growth the Movement-Building Initiative has spurred for LGBTQI people of color-led activism.

USA- New York

In 2005, the Astraea Foundation created the U.S. Movement-Building Initiative to build collective power for LGBTQI people of color-led organizations and to spur collective action that includes the voices of those most seldom heard. According to the LGBTQ Grantmakers 2008 Report Card on Racial Equity, 57% of autonomous LGBTI people of color organizations report that they receive no foundation support. And while funding to LGBTI organizations has more than doubled since 2002, only 9% of funding directly supports LGBTI communities of color according to a 2008 study by Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues. Astraea’s Movement-Building Initiative was created to respond to this disproportionate gap. Securing a three year $3.1 million grant from the Ford Foundation, the Astraea foundation built a multi-cycle program that, since 2005, has funded twelve groups across eight cities, produced four gatherings and given rise to the ROOTS Coalition, a coalition of LGBTQI people of color-led organizations. Through the program, Astraea has also worked as a thought leader, providing ongoing technical assistance, communications support, and leadership and strategy development to partner organizations.

The Movement-Building Initiative’s impact has been profound. With support, grantee partners have been able to strengthen their relationships, working together across issues. The program has helped partners engage in broader national dialogue and has built bridges between local and national campaigns. Internally, organizations have seen average budgets quadruple as a result of leveraging the MBI funding they received. The reach has been equally significant with MBI organizations’ total number of active members nearly doubling since the program’s start from 421 total to 787 total. In addition, the total number of constituents reached by grantee partners increased more than twelve-fold from 3,750 to 47,300. Receiving MBI funds has allowed grantees to hire and train core staff, do strategic planning, upgrade their tech systems and databases, improve physical environments and carry out leadership transition.

Strengthening the health of LGBTQI people of color-led organizations through both capacity-building work and general support, the Movement-Building Initiative has invested where organizations need it most and built ground for future work. Grantee partners have launched and successfully implemented campaigns to hold back anti-immigrant legislation, empower transgender prisoners, protect public space used by homeless LGBTQI youth, and build community capacity to respond to violence. The fourteen member organizations have seen exponential growth and partnered together as members of the ROOTS Coalition. The visible successes of the Movement-Building Initiative have felt powerful to organizations involved and have also indicated how profoundly impactful investment can be on long-term organizational growth, local community building and national movement building.