Seven years after it was founded, Marguerite Casey Foundation decided that the only way to find out whether its vision of a family-led nationwide movement was possible was to support grantees and their constituents in launching that movement.
In a year’s time, the Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign mobilized more than 30,000 families and organizations across the country to draft and adopt a national family platform that addressed the challenges facing poor and low-income families and the policy changes needed to improve the economic well-being of those families.
The campaign was a manifestation of the foundation’s mission, but it was also a test. What would this idea of a family-led movement, taken to scale, look like at a moment when our country was more diverse than ever in its history and more economically stratified? Over the course of the campaign, the foundation learned from families that participated and, in doing so, made progress toward answering a fundamental question: How can foundations support movement building most effectively? What is the foundation’s role in a phenomenon that ultimately must involve thousands, be led by those most affected, and be shaped, in many ways, by factors far beyond our own sphere of influence?
The Equal Voice movement has demonstrated – and continues to demonstrate every day – that movement building is a viable grantmaking strategy to build and support community self-determination. The campaign spawned an online newspaper, Equal Voice, two documentary films and more than 30 grassroots networks for community engagement nationwide. Today, Equal Voice is the framework for the foundation’s grantmaking, communication and advocacy work.