Led by young women of color former organizers under the age of 35, the Youth Engagement Fund (YEF) is the only donor collaborative dedicated to increasing the civic participation and electoral power of young people. YEF serves as the megaphone for the youth civic engagement within the philanthropic sector as we catalyze and facilitate greater philanthropic investment in building political participation and civic activism among young people, their networks, and communities to accelerate progressive social change. We uplift the voices and agency of Black, Indigenous, and youth of color to advance democratic governance and generate a culture of year-round civic engagement. In 2019,YEF granted 1.5M to 27 groups who reflect a leadership that is 80% Executive Directors of Color of whom 50% are Women of Color.
YEF’s grantmaking principles lead through a philanthropic leadership model that: 1) demonstrates commitment to racial equity; 2) supports the advancement and power building of Black, Indigenous, and youth of color; 3) adds value to building local infrastructure in geographic areas with the largest and growing numbers of communities of color; and 4) expands resources for youth focused efforts that create vehicles for youth and communities of color to lead and become life-long civic participants through issues that are important to them. We move money and resources to state-based youth-focused social justice organizations –mainly in the South and Southwest –that engage youth in civic engagement, including non-partisan voter engagement, issue and electoral campaigns. To build, grow and catalyze resources, infrastructure, and leadership in the youth civic engagement sector, YEF provides (1) monetary grants, (2) serves as a connector and convener, and (3) supports access to technical assistance to ensure youth focused groups are equipped with the tools, relationships, and structures necessary for success. YEF brings together diverse donors both institutional and individual, working across issues, and in varied regions, to enable collaborative grantmaking towards the common goals of a more reflective and inclusive democracy.
YEF is committed to Deep Community Care to ensure that the communities we engage define and have agency over the conditions for them to feel safe, supported and healthy; and to Building a New Normal that centers Black, Indigenous, and Youth of Color and their communities, creates intentional pathways to dismantling structural racism and white supremacy, and engages a new wave of politicized young people of color that expands the electorate and transforms American democracy.
YEF’s Movement Partners (grantees) are powerful youth-focused civic engagement organizations based primarily in the South and Southwest – a majority of them are focused on building the power and voting agency of young people of color. In 2019, YEF granted $1.5M to 27 groups, of which, 80% are executive directors of color and 50% are women of color. Throughout 2020, YEF has increased its grantmaking portfolio to support the rapid response needs of Black- and youth-focused civic engagement and organizing efforts and expanded geographic reach to include states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Movement Partners are trusted organizations and leaders in their communities and in this ever shifting social and political environment that 2020 has presented, they have been working tirelessly to navigate the election and census cycles, pandemic responses, and national protests for Black lives.
Read the Chronicle of Philanthropy op-ed by Executive Director of the Youth Engagement Fund, Alejandra Ruiz and President of the E. Hazen Foundation, Lori Bezahler on how youth organizing is playing a key role in transforming the electorate in battleground states like Arizona, Georgia, and Florida; and the opportunity for philanthropy to center youth of color in transforming our democracy. 10/20/2020