FACT grantees and staff talk about FACT and its legacy in this video of FACT celebrating its 18 years of grant making.
Over the past 20 years, FACT has supported community-led organizations that lift the voices of those who would otherwise be voiceless. These groups offer people a vehicle to get involved, educate themselves and speak up on matters that affect them very closely. Polluting refineries in low-income neighborhoods, discrimination in schools, or family leave policies affecting primarily low-income women are some of the issues that these groups tackled. Their organizing and advocacy efforts have resulted in many local, state and regional public policies to benefit low-income people and people of color. Some examples of advocacy and policy victories:
Working Partnerships USA pioneered the Children’s Health Initiative, which provides health coverage to more than 121,000 Santa Clara County children who were previously uninsured, and has been replicated in 30 counties in California.
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth helped lead a campaign that stopped the East Kentucky Power Cooperative from building a new coal burning power plant, and won a commitment to work towards a “new power” that is cleaner, including energy efficiency programs and renewable energy.
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy won landmark labor and environmental standards to make the port trucking system at the port of
Los Angeles a less polluting, more competitive generator of good quality jobs for residents, workers and business alike.
SouthWest Organizing Project organized a New Mexico community that had no nearby access to drinking water to win federal funding for a local water system.
FACT’s strategy was to choose a small number of grantees, give them general operating support, commit to funding them for the long term, and help them build their strength through innovative and comprehensive capacity building programs. The investment has paid off: Today, most of FACT’s grantees are strong and successful. In order to produce greater good today, FACT chose to make its grant making the work of one generation and committed to spending out its endowment in 20 years. It planned that process carefully, ensuring that its grantees were strong enough to replace FACT’s funding and continue their work. FACT also helped launched RoadMAP, an independent version of its successful capacity building program, which will help strengthen social justice organizations long after the foundation’s exit.
As a family, FACT’s board members have grown and learned from their journey in philanthropy. “Our experience has taught us about the complex role of government and other public and private institutions in creating more justice in our society,” Diane Feeney said. “Much of it begins with people, people empowered and mobilized to take control of their lives, whether they march to demand the end of mountaintop removal in Kentucky or turn out in bus loads to call for immigration reform in Washington, D.C.”
Philanthropy plays a small, but important role in helping to bring about societal change. The board of FACT believes that philanthropists have a responsibility that begins with giving more: more strategically, more money, and more leadership. FACT’s legacy is the strong organizations and effective capacity-building program the foundation leaves behind. That legacy also includes the lessons from FACT’s 20-year experience that might be useful to other funders: how a small family foundation made strategic use of its resources to tackle economic and social injustice and promote social change.