Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Headed

Hello to all our friends and partners in the network. It’s been awhile since my last blog post, and I’ve missed being in touch!  I’m glad to take this opportunity to tell you what we’ve been up to, and to share with you where we are heading in 2016.

It’s been a little over a year since I took over from the network’s beloved founder, Janis Foster Richardson, as Executive Director.  As is often the case in these kinds of transitions, I needed to spend time focused inward to fully understand our organization, our network and our work in the field.   While you may not have seen us in the places we’ve normally been in the past, the board and I have been very busy and we are excited about what we have planned for 2016 and beyond.

We had a great year in 2015.  Here are some of the things we did:

  • We moved our operations from Texas to Denver, Colorado, where our board chair (Patrick Horvath of The Denver Foundation) and I both live
  • We restructured our board, recruiting new members and creating a new streamlined committee structure
  • The board and I took some time to re-calibrate, honing our vision and clarifying our unique niche in the field of philanthropy and community engagement. (Please see our new Identity Statement)
  • Are participating in several new partnerships focused on increasing philanthropic support for grassroots civic engagement and community building
  • Thanks to our National Planning Committee and our wonderful OTG maven Shannon Dixon, we offered our 2015 learning event, On the Ground, in Brooklyn, hosted by the innovative, resident-led, crowd-funding civic engagement group ioby.

Here’s what we’re looking at for 2016:

  • We are re-starting our webinar series, beginning on March 10th, at 1 p.m. EST, 12 noon CST, 11 a.m. MST and 10 a.m. PST with an offering on the fundamental importance of residents in grantmaking. (Registration info coming in the next few days). Our guests are Lisa Leverette of the Skillman Foundation’s Prevention Network in Detroit, Jerry Ann Hebron of the Northend Christian CDC and the Oakland Avenue Community Garden and Farmer’s Market in Detroit, and DeAmon Harges of The Learning Tree in Indianapolis.  They will reflect on their successes and their challenges in grantmaking and building community leadership, and on their partnerships with foundations and community investors.  We want to provide our audience with concrete examples of how exemplary resident leadership can be built into grantmaking, creating effective resident-centered change from the ground up.
  • We are launching a regional strategy, to support grassroots grantmakers in their local areas. This will create greater access to learning opportunities for folks to share best practices on grantmaking and on how to involve residents as leaders in their particular contexts. We’re actively searching right now for the regions that show the most interest and potential for residents and grantmakers to come together and learn from each other. Please let me know if you are interested in having us work in your region!
  • We have become the fiscal sponsor for the Indie Philanthropy Initiative, an online community sharing practices about decentralized, daring funding alternatives that are poised to reshape the field of philanthropy. Diversity and creative approaches are a hallmark of their proactive work, and Grassroots Grantmakers and the Indie Philanthropy Initiative will be looking for opportunities for collaboration throughout the year.
  • Of course we will continue to offer our On the Ground in the fall, so look out for that info, also coming soon.
  • Finally I am available to assist your organization in strengthening its resident involvement and grassroots grantmaking using an approach uniquely tailored for your organization.

GRGM seeks to be a resource for resident-centered grantmaking efforts occurring around the country.

Let me know if I can be of assistance to you or your organization in any way.  Together we can be of real service to our communities and the field of philanthropy.

The hopes we have for building grassroots grantmaking require collaboration. So please join Grassroots Grantmakers, or if your membership has lapsed, please rejoin.  You can click here to join online, or go to our webpage and click the green button that says “Join”.

All the best to you in your life and your work,

Lisa Durán



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