How We Work

Our Grantmaking

When Marguerite Casey Foundation was created, the notion of providing general support grants was nearly unheard of—a radical idea. Yet we saw, and still do see, unrestricted grantmaking as central to our mission and our core values. We don’t set the agenda, the families and activists on the ground do. Through substantial multi-year general support, we stand in partnership with our grantees to sow the seeds of change. We offer our grantees genuine autonomy by providing long-term general operating support. The average grantee has been part of our grantmaking portfolio for more than eight years. We provide funding in the areas of advocacy, activism, and education, rather than issue-specific funding, as we recognize that families do not experience poverty one issue at a time.

Our Grants

Our Grantmaking is Focused on Four Regions and a National Portfolio

Select region above

West

The Scope of Poverty (2017)

California

5,160,208
# of people living in poverty
13.3%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    453,847 / 20.9%
  • Asian Americans
    583,716 / 10.3%
  • Latinx
    2,653,621 / 17.4%
  • Native Americans
    59,653 / 19.5%
  • Whites
    2,763,309 / 12.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    1,580,002 / 17.8%
  • Families
    855,419 / 9.6%

Grantees in the West Region

The West region encompasses California, a state of contrasts and variety that often serves as a political, cultural and economic barometer for the rest of the country.

Challenges Facing Low-Income Families

While some Californians enjoy phenomenal prosperity, many families still live in extreme poverty and inequality. In fact, California sets the national standard for disparities between the rich and poor. High prosperity for some has created a perfect storm of high poverty, costly housing and lagging job growth for others, particularly immigrants and people of color. Here are some of the greatest challenges our West region grantees and their constituents face.

Drought and Poverty

California is experiencing the worst drought in history due to record low rainfall and snowpack. In 2015 California’s agricultural economy lost about $1.84 billion and 10,100 seasonal jobs, largely held by immigrants, because of the drought. The economic repercussions hit rural and low-income communities hardest and exacerbate family poverty, especially in the Central Valley, where the agricultural sector is most concentrated.

Housing Affordability and Living Wage

The cost of housing is increasingly out of reach for California families. Approximately 46% of residents are renters and many renters are extremely low-income.

Criminal Justice Reform

For decades, criminal justice policies have destabilized low-income families and communities of color. These policies negatively reverberate through employment, education, housing and health for individuals and snowball into challenges for families and their communities. The impact of these policies falls hardest on communities of color; currently one in ten Black males in their 30s is incarcerated in California.

Equal Voice Networks

Our investment in the West region has helped grantees achieve significant wins with statewide and national impact, such as the passage of Propositions 30 and 47. Grantees worked with Equal Voice Networks and families on national platform issues, including minimum wage increases, criminal justice reform, and education. Together, grantees organically develop new movement building strategies across demographic categories and across regional differences and issues.

Equal Voice For Southern California Families Alliance

Founded in 2007, Equal Voice for Southern California Families Alliance is uniting voices in a call for California to fight poverty by reinvesting in our communities.

Equal Voice For Change In The Central Valley

Four organizations with strong roots in their communities have begun working together as Equal Voice for Change in the Central Valley.

San Diego Equal Voice Network

A multiracial, multi-issue coalition of community organizations working to improve the lives of families in southern California.

Bay Area Equal Voice Coalition

A multiracial, multi-issue coalition of community organizations working to improve the lives of Bay Area families.

Our Investment in the West Region

Grantees

  • Current Grantees
    42
  • All Time
    296

Grants

  • Current Grants
    $16,585,000
  • All Time
    $92,711,103

Southwest

The Scope of Poverty (2017)

Arizona

1,018,935
# of People Living in Poverty
14.9%
% of People Living in Poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    62,897 / 21.7%
  • Asian Americans
    26,026 / 11.4%
  • Latinx
    428,910 / 20.0%
  • Native Americans
    108,044 / 35.0%
  • Whites
    686,351 / 13.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    325,717 / 20.4%
  • Families
    176,799 / 10.7%

New Mexico

401,755
# of People Living in Poverty
19.7%
% of People Living in Poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    10,200 / 25.0%
  • Asian Americans
    1,544 / 5.0%
  • Latinx
    230,001 / 23.0%
  • Native Americans
    66,261 / 33.8%
  • Whites
    267,756 / 17.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    128,996/ 27.0%
  • Families
    72,822 / 15.2%

Texas

4,076,905
# of People Living in Poverty
14.7%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    624,004 / 19.0%
  • Asian Americans
    131,430 / 9.8%
  • Latinx
    2,274,000 / 20.7%
  • Native Americans
    23,457 / 17.9%
  • Whites
    2,847,885 / 14.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    1,501,179 / 20.7%
  • Families
    756,655/ 11.3%

Grantees in the Southwest Region

The Southwest grantmaking region comprises three of the four states that share the 1,933 mile border with Mexico: Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Challenges Facing Low-Income Families

The Southwest region is home to some of the country’s poorest families. Colonias, or settlements, are common and often lack the basic necessities for family life. Along the Mexican and US border, families face the challenges of drug trafficking, prostitution, water rights, unregulated immigration, labor migration, and poverty. These issues are often exploited by partisan politicians to garner votes through xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric. In addition to these, here are some of the core issues our Southwest grantees and their constituents face.

Living Wages

Job growth continues to steadily improve but most of the jobs are concentrated in lower wage industries. In the Southwest, grantees and their constituents have successfully passed ordinances to raise the minimum wage at the local level, but have yet to see an improvement in real wages or a reduction in the poverty level. This is in part because the laws, once ratified, are not enforced, allowing employers to continue to pay the federally mandated minimum of $7.25.

Wage Theft

Wage theft – the unlawful failure to pay wages owed to a worker, illegal deductions and working long hours without overtime pay – is rampant in the Southwest region. In Texas, it is estimated that employers withheld an estimated $35 billion in wages. There are anti-wage theft laws in each state, but the weak penalties imposed on perpetrators fails to deter employers from cheating their workers. The undocumented population in the region is especially vulnerable to wage theft.

Predatory Lending

Costly and harmful short-term payday lending is prevalent across the region. Attempts to regulate predatory loans at the local level provide many challenges for grantees and their constituents. The payday loan companies have a very powerful lobby that has managed to leverage billions of dollars to pass bills that allow them to charge exorbitant interest rates and defeat bills to cap interest rates.

Equal Voice Networks

Grantees in the Southwest have demonstrated the effectiveness of the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy by working across issues to confront the social, political and economic challenges in alignment with the Equal Voice framework. Across the region grantees have been building power from the grassroots, forming networks to build collective power and making positive strides to organize and build a movement that will advance the rights of low-income families.

The Foundation began investing in the Southwest region in 2002. Over the last decade, grantees in the region have aligned with the Foundation’s strategy to provide families with the tools and knowledge to exercise their agency and advocate on their own behalf. The Equal Voice networks in the Southwest serve as catalysts for movement building, and these local and state-level collaborations have yielded positive change and strengthened the voice of low-income families.

Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network

The Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network consists of six working groups to address the issues that our families had identified as crucial to the community’s well-being: Civic Engagement; Jobs and Economic Security; Education; Housing; Immigration; Health Care; and LGBTQ rights. Together, the network offers direct service to thousands of families, uniting as a force for lasting social and political change.

Equal Voice New Mexico

With the support of Equal Voice New Mexico, community members identified by network-member grantees from central and northern New Mexico, including Tewa Tribal communities, were able to come to the state legislature and advocate for investment in early childhood education.

El Paso Del Norte Equal Voice Network

Grantees in the network joined forces to improve the water quality for residents in colonias by successfully lobbying the county to install new filters in the water system. The Paso del Norte Equal Voice Network continues to collaborate on immigration reform efforts, education, and integrated voter engagement for the region.

Arizona Equal Voice Network

Arizona Equal Voice Network improved previous voter engagement campaigns to turn out the Latino vote across the state. The network registered more than 100,000 Latinos on the Permanent Early Voting list, increasing the chance of participation in all elections, and continuing the steady increase of Latino voter participation since 2008.

Our Investment in the Southwest Region

Grantees

  • Current Grantees
    45
  • All Time
    261

Grants

  • Current Grants
    $11,740,000
  • All Time
    $58,852,159

Midwest

The Scope of Poverty (2017)

Illinois

1,569,753
# of people living in poverty
12.6%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    454,712 / 26.2%
  • Asian Americans
    74,813 / 11.0%
  • Latinx
    326,042 / 15.0%
  • Native Americans
    3,348 / 12.0%
  • Whites
    861,423 / 10.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    477,202 / 16.8%
  • Families
    277,519 / 9.0%

Grantees in the Midwest Region

Our investments in the Midwest region are focused in Chicago, America’s third largest city with 2.7 million residents.

Challenges Facing Low-Income Families

Regressive Tax Structure

According to a 2015 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, Illinois has the most unfair tax system in the Midwest and the fifth most unfair tax system in the U.S. Due to a state flat tax, the poor end up paying more in taxes as a percentage of income while the rich pay less. In fact, the findings showed that the lowest income Illinoisans pay nearly three times more in taxes as a percent of their income than the state’s wealthiest residents. This results in deficits and social service cuts that disproportionately affects low income families.

Racism and Police Brutality

Chicago has a long history of police brutality toward low-income people of color. Entrenched institutional racism, a code of silence, and a culture of impunity, have created deep distrust between police and low income communities of color. In May 2015, the Chicago City Council unanimously approved a landmark ordinance that sets aside $5.5 million in reparation for victims of police torture from 1972 to 1991. Police brutality-related lawsuits in general have cost Chicago taxpayers $521 million during the last decade alone.

Equal Voice Networks

Given the smaller geographic size of this region, grantees are well networked through the Chicago Equal Voice Network and other coalitions, allowing for greater progress in movement building.

Chicago Equal Voice Network

By elevating and strengthening the voices of low income families, the Chicago Equal Voice Network aims to make Chicago a more just and equitable city. The network works on a range of issues, from education to criminal justice reform.

Our Investment in the Midwest Region

Grantees

  • Current Grantees
    18
  • All Time
    164

Grants

  • Current Grants
    $5,500,000
  • All Time
    $38,331,000

South

The Scope of Poverty (2017)

Alabama

802,656
# of People Living in Poverty
16.9%
% of People Living in Poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    343,405 / 27.3%
  • Asian Americans
    10,131 / 15.4%
  • Latinx
    60,420 / 30.7%
  • Native Americans
    3,798 / 15.6%
  • Whites
    397,399 / 12.2%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    261,570 / 24.3%
  • Families
    154,072 / 12.8%

Arkansas

478,365
# of People Living in Poverty
16.4%
% of People Living in Poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    120,298 / 27.6%
  • Asian Americans
    6,338 / 11.0%
  • Latinx
    51,167 / 23.2%
  • Native Americans
    4,713 / 26.0%
  • Whites
    303,436 / 14.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    153,384 / 22.1%
  • Families
    87,545 / 11.6%

Florida

2,889,506
# of people living in poverty
14.0%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    716,219 / 21.9%
  • Asians
    73,005 / 12.5%
  • Latinx
    936,804 / 17.7%
  • Native Americans
    10,116 / 17.0%
  • Whites
    1,890,554 / 12.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    822,648 / 20.0%
  • Families
    215,298 / 6.0%

Georgia

1,517,702
# of people living in poverty
14.9%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    681,291 / 21.5%
  • Asians
    37,641 / 9.4%
  • Latinx
    228,841 / 23.4%
  • Native Americans
    7,214 / 20.0%
  • Whites
    662,050 / 11.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    510,534 / 20.7%
  • Families
    280,362 / 11.1%

Kentucky

744,239
# of people living in poverty
17.2%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    88,053 / 25.7%
  • Asians
    10,743 / 17.0%
  • Latinx
    38,407 / 25.8%
  • Native Americans
    1,713 / 23.0%
  • Whites
    607,102/ 16.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    217,208 / 22.0%
  • Families
    145,748 / 12.9%

Louisiana

899,039
# of people living in poverty
19.7%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    484,110 / 33.1%
  • Asians
    13,193 / 15.9%
  • Latinx
    59,070 / 25.1%
  • Native Americans
    5,799 / 25.0%
  • Whites
    354,130 / 13.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    302,973 / 27.8%
  • Families
    162,765 / 14.7%

Mississippi

571,219
# of people living in poverty
19.8%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    341,866 / 31.3%
  • Asians
    4,673 / 17.0%
  • Latinx
    17,343/ 21.6%
  • Native Americans
    4,854 / 36.0%
  • Whites
    204,331 / 12%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    186,755 / 26.7%
  • Families
    106,751 / 14.9%

Tennessee

980,284
# of people living in poverty
15.0%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    261,929 / 24.2%
  • Asians
    12,399 / 10.7%
  • Latinx
    86,505 / 24.5%
  • Native Americans
    2,679 / 19.0%
  • Whites
    648,383 / 13.0%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    309,848 / 21.0%
  • Families
    186,116 / 10.9%

Grantees in the South Region

While the South continues to be the fastest-growing region of the country, entrenched poverty still dominates life for many families. The South grantmaking region comprises eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Challenges Facing Low-Income Families

The South posts some of the worst quality-of-life indicators in the country, with four states (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia) ranking among the top ten nationally for percentage of people living in poverty. Mississippi, whose poverty rate is 21.5 percent, is the worst of all states and the District of Columbia. Here are some of the core issues our grantees and their constituents face.

Gentrification

Gentrification is raising rental prices and property taxes in key parts of the region, forcing long-time working class residents to be priced out and preventing others from moving in. A 2013 Business Insider report that ranked the most gentrified cities in America lists three that house South region grantees: Atlanta (6th), New Orleans (14th) and Miami (27th). Foundation grantee Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) reported that much of New Orleans’ damaged public housing had been privatized after Hurricane Katrina, resulting in less than half of the units being available for low-income residents by 2015.

Dependence on Federal Funding

Southern states continue to lead the nation in dependence on federal funding. According to 2012 U.S. Census figures, Mississippi’s general revenue budget included 45.3 percent federal funding, the largest percentage of federal allocations to a state in the country. Louisiana ranked second at 43.9 percent and Georgia ranked seventh at 37.9 percent.

Adult Obesity

Three South region states (Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama) rank in the top five for adult obesity, each posting obesity percentages of 33.5 or greater.

Lack of Insurance

Four of the South region states (Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana and Georgia) rank in the top 10 nationally for the highest percentage of uninsured residents, each claiming at least 20.8 percent of its population as uninsured.

Equal Voice Networks

The Foundation’s steady investment in the South region over the last decade is arguably more needed than ever. Policy wins by Foundation grantees in the South provide evidence that, when people are mobilized to build power, they stand the best chances at making significant changes at state and local levels.

During 2014, the movement for immigrant justice and the movement to end incarceration of and violence toward boys and men of color gradually converged. Organizations working on the ground believe that far too often borders, prison cells, police and poverty are designed to divide communities internally and from each other. Organizing efforts spanning from halting Immigration and Customs Enforcement detentions in Georgia to combating pro-gun policy in Florida in response to the death of Trayvon Martin spawned regional and national coalitions and organizing campaigns to address all structural attempts to disproportionately criminalize marginalized people.

In August 2014, days after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, organizations like the Dream Defenders, Southerners on New Ground, Florida New Majority Education Fund and NAACP responded with solidarity rallies across the South, mobilizations to Ferguson, and strategic messaging to address the greater issue of militarized force against low-income communities of color.

Alabama Equal Voice Network

Alabama Equal Voice Network (AEVN) is a coalition of state-based groups that combine resources, share ideas and collaborates on projects to mobilize low-income families in Alabama for policy and community change. AEVN members develop strategies and build connections with regional and national networks, and increase their capacity to elevate the voices of families.

Mississippi Equal Voice Network

The Mississippi Equal Voice Network (MSEVN) is a group of state-based organizations that share resources, develop best practices and craft agendas to address policy issues such as their collective efforts around public education reform. Launched in 2005 and once concentrated in the Mississippi Delta, MSEVN network members are now spread across the entire state.

Louisiana Equal Voice Network

Louisiana Equal Voice Network is a coalition of nonprofit organizations that strategize, share resources and develop best practices for improving the lives of low-income families across the state. LEVN strengthens member practices and provides space where they can plan and advance common policy goals.

Equal Voice For Rural Florida

Since the beginning of 2013, Equal Voice for Florida’s Families has worked to formalize a collective voice and community vehicle to amplify the power of low-income families across the state. Organizations have united to modernize Florida’s unemployment system; to prevent adoption of anti-immigrant policies or those that legitimize racial profiling; support equal access to higher education; empower low-wage workers who have been victims of wage theft or other unfair labor practices; and fight against the senseless killing of young black and brown children.

Equal Voice For Urban Florida

Equal Voice for Urban Florida (EVUF) covers metropolitan Florida but is most concentrated in Greater Miami. The network focus’ its work various issues impacting low-income families in Florida’s urban areas, such as gentrification, racial justice and climate change. EVUF meets regularly to set goals and develop plans to achieve common policy goals.

Our Investment in the South Region

Grantees

  • Current Grantees
    58
  • All Time
    375

Grants

  • Current Grants
    $13,250,000
  • All Time
    $79,486,500

National Portfolio

The Scope of Poverty (2017)

United States

42,583,651
# of people living in poverty
13.4%
% of people living in poverty

Race/Ethnicity (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • African Americans
    9,122,033 / 23%
  • Asian Americans
    1,975,913 / 11.1%
  • Latinx
    11,173,521/ 19.4%
  • Native Americans
    670,571 / 25.4%
  • Whites
    18,604,468 / 9.6%

Other (# / % of people living in poverty)

  • Children
    13,053,472 / 18.1%
  • Families
    7,469,960 / 10%

Grantees in the National Portfolio

Marguerite Casey Foundation supports a portfolio of national groups to build vertical integration to connect regional work to national strategies and resources. The portfolio both fosters the expansion of local work and grounds national work in local realities.

Challenges Facing Low-Income Families

In 2018, one in three families in the United States live paycheck to paycheck, far below the poverty line and are struggling to make ends meet in our current political and economic environment. As job growth and wages have stagnated, people of color in the lowest income quartiles have been disproportionately impacted. Our current economy favors the wealthy and our social safety net resources have not kept pace with the growing need.

Income Inequality

42% of U.S. workers make less than $15 an hour, with women and people of color overrepresented in these jobs. More than half of African-American workers and nearly 60% of Latino workers make less than $15 an hour. Many of these jobs are concentrated in six industries: restaurants/bars, retail, child care, auto manufacturing, home care and hotels. The Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign continues to gain momentum across the country.

Racism and Police Accountability

The growing public visibility of police brutality and killing of unarmed Black men and boys continues to increase across the country. Grantees and philanthropic partners at both the national and local levels continue to be involved in mobilization efforts to document the on-the-ground reality, improve data collection and reporting, and advocate on issues related to police brutality, use of lethal force, police shootings and police accountability.

Voter Suppression

In 2013, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder struck a huge blow to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This opened the way for new legislation in many states that aims to make it harder for low-income communities of color to exercise their right to vote. 2016 was the first election in 50 years without key voting protections in place.

Equal Voice Networks

Each of our regions have these powerful coalitions that give our grantees the chance to strengthen and gain momentum. Our National Portfolio has one Equal Voice Network, the Native Voice Network.

Native Voice Network

The Native Voice Network was founded in response to the need for a national voice for Native American families and communities in local and national policy issues impacting Native communities. More than thirty Native American organizations are members of the NVN, representing urban and rural tribal communities.

Our Investment in the National Portfolio Region

Grantees

  • Current Grantees
    52
  • All Time
    441

Grants

  • Current Grants
    $17,495,000
  • All Time
    $111,845,649