State Infrastructure Fund
The State Infrastructure Fund (SIF) supports the development of state-based networks of organizations that coordinate their programming to increase civic participation among historically underrepresented communities and protect their right to vote.
Voting is the foundation of our democracy. It is imperative that all eligible Americans—particularly those who have been historically underrepresented at the polls—register, feel empowered and cast a ballot in every election. The nonpartisan nonprofit groups that SIF supports work day in and day out to ensure that communities are engaged, that submitted registrations are added to the rolls, and that people know where, how and when they can vote. When those in power construct structural barriers to voting, SIF’s litigation grantees step in to pursue legal remedy and prevent future recurrences.
How We Work
Founded in 2010, the State Infrastructure Fund is one of the most seasoned collaborative funds in the democracy-funding arena. SIF has raised more than $52 million since its inception to support state infrastructure—the totality of issue, constituency, civic engagement and voting rights groups within a state that work together with shared goals around communications, integrated voter engagement and voting rights.
SIF’s grantees are state-based civic engagement tables and organizing groups, many of them affiliated with State Voices. These networks of nonpartisan civic engagement organizations coordinate across issues and communities to agree on a common strategy, allocate roles and responsibility for maximum impact, and measure their collective progress. SIF also helped create and now supports a national voting rights infrastructure, including a collaborative of 12 of the country’s most respected public interest legal organizations.
Currently, SIF is working in twelve states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Because the fund balances consistent multi-year support with nimble and responsive grant making, this list of states may evolve as new opportunities arise.
SIF’s members include: Bauman Foundation, Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust, Brico Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation, Grove Foundation, Irving Harris Foundation, JPB Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Unbound Philanthropy, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, an anonymous funder and several individual donors.
According to our members, SIF provides the following advantages to its members:
History: The State Infrastructure Fund is the most established civic engagement fund in the United States. Since its launch, SIF has continuously surpassed its fundraising goals, grown its membership, and engendered confidence and commitment among its members. The longevity of the fund and consistency of its funding and strategy has positioned SIF as an important partner and leader in the nonpartisan voter engagement field.
Vision: SIF embraces a creative and entrepreneurial approach that synthesizes the various goals of its members into a cohesive long-term strategy that enhances and rationalizes the funding of each member within the broader ecosystem.
Learning & Expertise: SIF creates a unique peer-to peer-learning space for its members who together represent the some of the most important civic engagement foundations in the country. Through regular conference calls and meetings, SIF funders rigorously discuss emerging issues, strategic plans, and specific funding recommendations, to ensure that SIF funding is most effectively utilized within the broader civic engagement funding landscape.
Leverage: SIF brings more resources to critical issues by leveraging and aligning the investments of state and national donors and other collaborative funds. In particular, SIF’s partnerships with state donor tables is unique and deeply valuable.
Flexibility: SIF is a flexible and agile funding mechanism that allows national funders to make more targeted grants in multiple geographies. The fund is able to move quickly, making and acting upon informed decisions with an efficiency that is often impossible thorough larger foundations.
From our members
“SIF is the best collaborative fund at creating a center of gravity for both voting rights and civic engagement work that attracts all major and smaller players interested in these fields.”
“SIF provides an opportunity for state– or issue-based funders to connect to the larger field of democracy funding, while lifting up their own examples and expertise.”
“SIF bridges a values-based approach with evidence-based research that tests assumptions and moves us all forward.”
The State Infrastructure Fund is housed at NEO Philanthropy. NEO’s collaborative funds are designed to help donors make more agile and effective national and state-level grants.