Nearly 200 participants gathered in Denver, Colorado for the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation’s (FCCP) annual convening. This year’s theme, “Rising Together to Strengthen our Democracy,” allowed attendees – a mix of funder members, non-member foundations and grantee partners – to collectively discuss how to protect and strengthen the democracy during a midterm year, while building a sustainable culture of civic participation and lifting up marginalized communities in the road towards a more just society.
The convening centered around three main themes: power structures, equity and leadership development.
Through various fora, attendees discussed changing the structures of power that pose barriers to progress. Nancy MacLean, author of the “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” delivered the keynote speech. She delved into the history of money in politics, and highlighted the success of the radical right’s efforts to invest in long-term, sustainable change for the country. Participants discussed the need for funders to go beyond the “boom or bust” cycles of the midterm election years, and fund transformative, decades-long change to protect the main facets of our democracy.
Putting equity at the center of all the work was a theme pervasive throughout the convening. Funders discussed how to strive towards equity in race, gender, age and socio-economic status. Plenary sessions highlighted Asian-Americans, youth, Native Americans and other marginalized communities who are often times left out of these conversations. The main takeaway from this theme was that, “equity is a practice.” Equity is learned and we all must apply it and measure it.
In the conversations highlighting long-term civic engagement work, a common takeaway was developing a pipeline of leaders to continue this work for the next generation, especially those leaders from the marginalized communities. Attendees shared examples of how this leadership development should happen, whether it be through rigorous trainings, funding grassroots campaigns, financial management skills, etc. Several speakers stressed that they would not be where they were had the power of this leadership training effort not uplifted them.
FCCP is a fiscally sponsored network of NEO Philanthropy. To read more about FCCP or to check out their upcoming events visit, https://funderscommittee.org/.