A Message from NEO’s President, Michele Lord:
Over the holidays, I hope you were able to take a step back and reflect on the year we completed and the year ahead of us. During my own reflection, I kept coming back to the same feeling: gratitude. Over the past year advocates, organizations and our country have gone through some intense and necessary soul searching experiences. As trying as some of those experiences have been, I am grateful for them, as they have reaffirmed our worldview, our values and our approach to grant making.
The unique niche NEO occupies in philanthropy allows us to affect and support the field in a variety of ways. As the movements for social justice operate at a fast, sometimes frenetic pace, we can help by filtering the noise and helping funders respond more expediently to emerging needs while upholding time-tested and diligent grant making processes. In 2017, NEO stayed true to our mission and helped nonprofit organizations and funders build movements:
- The Four Freedoms FundTM (FFF) responded nimbly and rapidly to emerging threats to the immigrant community throughout the year. FFF funded DACA renewal grants, invested in grantee’s capacity and implemented new, ambitious grant making strategies.
- Over the course of two days, the Anti-Trafficking Fund convened 13 grantees to build connections, learn new skills and think collectively about the communications strategy for the field.
- Our Fiscal Sponsorship and Donor Services programs have grown to more than 70 projects covering a range of issues including racial justice, gender justice, LGBTQ, immigration, investigative journalism, environmental, civic participation and much more. During the last year, we increased our capacity in both staffing and technology to enhance the valuable support we give our projects so they can focus on their important work.
- The State Infrastructure Fund (SIF) continued engaging underrepresented voters in the democratic process and commissioned voter engagement research from the Analyst Institute that included best practices for civic engagement funders.
In the New Year, our focus remains the same: building social justice movements to make the world a more equitable place. To do that, we will uplift the many voices and leaders from our grantees and partners – many of whom are emerging leaders that the philanthropy sector so desperately needs and want to support – leaders who represent the diverse communities we serve, including members of the LGBTQ community, women and people of color. We will invest in the capacity of our grantees because giving them the space to explore and grow is just as important as supporting their core work. We are committed to identifying opportunities for intersectionality and knowledge sharing because the more we can work together the stronger we become.
As I look forward to the months ahead, I am grateful for the powerful and passionate team that supports me at NEO. Committed to our grantees, projects and donors, we will continue to push philanthropy forward in 2018 and beyond. Standing firm in NEO’s values, we remain deeply committed to social justice and human rights no matter what obstacles come our way.
Wishing you a happy and successful New Year.