By Magan Do
Social Justice Fund NW has always funded coalitions as part of our strategy for funding community organizing in the Pacific and Mountain West, but last year, we made a deliberate decision to dedicate two Giving Projects to funding only coalitions and alliances. Partially we made this decision because we heard from grantees that more funding needed to go to coalition work in the region. The other was that we wanted to strengthen our understanding of coalitions and why coalitions are an important and powerful strategy.
Some things we learned:
Coalitions come in all shapes and sizes. Coalitions can be long-term or short-term, multi-issue or single-issue, super local, statewide, national, or even international. Coalitions as with community organizing, should be shaped by those most directly impacted, as such coalitions may change throughout their life cycle to meet community need.
Coalitions are powerful. When we talk about building collective power, coalitions really embody that. Coalitions are not just bringing together individuals, they bring together organizations and their memberships to make change.
Continuing to fund coalitions is necessary. Coalition-building is a strategy that has been used historically because they are effective and for this work to continue, we need to continue to invest in them.
To ground our work, Giving Project members had an opportunity to learn from coalition leaders from outside of the region to give us an idea of what coalitions can look like and understand that coalitions do not have to look a certain way. The work done in coalition is broad and can often encompass many issues in one coalition.
Site visits are often where the work being described on paper becomes real for members. With this grant process, we were able to see firsthand the ways that coalitions bring together very different organizations with different memberships, sometimes different values, and often different geographic regions to build power and make a huge impact in ways they wouldn’t be able to individually. For example, we visited and learned from one coalition doing work both inside and outside of Washington state prisons to make systemic change that supports the safety and self-determination of trans and gender nonconforming people. Outside of the prisons, they bring together organizations doing work in, but not limited to, the fields of disability justice, trans health care, and prison abolition.
We moved thousands of dollars to coalitions in the region and it was exciting to see the different kinds of work being done all over the region.
The 21 members from the Portland-based Giving Project and the 14 members from the Seattle-based Giving Project collectively raised over $200,000, and with generous matches from Satterberg Foundation and Northwest Areas Fund, granted $296,790 to the following organizations:
253 Making Connections Initiative * | Tacoma, WA\
Black Lives Matter Portland and The All African People’s Revolutionary Party * | Portland, OR
Coalition for Trans Prisoners* | Seattle, WA
Community Justice Project* | Seattle, WA
Equality State Policy Center and Wyoming Equality ** | Laramie, WY
Missoula Racial Justice Coalition** | Missoula, MT
PCUN and CAPACES Leadership Institute’s (CLI)
Grassroots Coalition** | Woodburn, OR
People’s Plan for Community Justice** | Seattle, WA
Portland Harbor Community Coalition** | Portland, OR
Seattle ACED (Artist Coalition for
Equitable Development)** | Seattle, WA
Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance * | Seattle, WA
Seattle Native Coalition on Gender-based Violence and
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women** | Seattle, WA
SW Washington Communities of Color Coalition** | Kelso, WA
Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network ** | Burien, WA
*Portland Giving Project **Seattle Giving Project