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Examining the role of social justice grantmaking on childcare advocacy and community organizing among women of color

Philanthropy can shape the social change process by influencing policy agendas, narratives, and, ultimately, which groups can fully participate in a given social movement. Indeed, philanthropic organizations serve as resource brokers (Seltzer, 2012), venture capitalists (Knott & McCarthy, 2007), policy actors, and institutional entrepreneurs providing important capital for social change (Hunsaker & Hanzl, 2003; Suarez, 2012). University-led and independent research across disciplines has explored the role of philanthropy in producing and supporting social progress through its investments in social movements (Barman, 2017; Hunsaker & Hanzl, 2003; Minkoff Agnone, 2010). Despite this body of work, research on the role of philanthropy in grassroots childcare policy and advocacy, particularly in connection to women of color engaged in community organizing, is sparse, and specific grantmaking practices that support social progress are underexplored (Bartley, 2007). The present paper helps address these research gaps and provides a synthesis of how one foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Women, critically assessed the current childcare field to support a new social movement trajectory informed by an analytical framework rarely discussed in the literature calling for childcare advocacy: an intersectional lens that recognizes and aims to combat the persistent sexism, racism, and classism undergirding U.S. childcare policy. The foundation applied social justice grantmaking over a five-year period to support strategies that would develop a childcare system responsive to needs of people from all racial, economic, and immigrant backgrounds (Mathew, 2016). Further, prior research has documented the reluctance of philanthropy to invest in grassroots-led organizations and advocacy in general, even in the childcare field (Knott & McCarthy, 2007). The present paper offers another perspective with an example of a foundation that solely invests in grassroots-led organizations that use community organizing to achieve childcare policy gains and other grassroots social movement agendas. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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