YEF’s intentionality and due diligence to get to know our movement partners and understand the
different cycles of philanthropy, allowed us to make a deep analysis of how 2020 would look like for the civic engagement sector. Thus, we had the foresight at the end of 2019 to create and advance a Winter Docket. Our analysis of the youth and philanthropic sectors, coupled with our experience as previous organizers, former grantees, and women of color with lived experience of the systems we work in, allowed us to understand the layers of dynamics that would shape 2020. We knew that 2020 was going to be a year of heightened organizing with voter engagement, issue organizing, and census work. We had a deep understanding that it would be
a momentous year and anticipated that there would be challenges that were yet to be identified, and that YEF needed to move significant resources early and quickly in order for organizations to be prepared to respond. Our 2019 Winter Docket provided general grants through January 2021 that were at least double the amounts of the previous grant docket to core partners, including those in YEF key states. As a result of this decision the organizations we funded early and for the entire year were better equipped to organizationally shift accordingly and to respond to the needs of their community as the global pandemic was unfolding.
While great strides have been made to support immediate needs of movement partners during very uncertain times, we understand that we are still very much in an evolving pandemic. Already we have seen that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the states where leadership ignored the health implications of the virus in favor of re-opening early, including the states of Arizona, Texas, and Florida. This means that there will still be a great need for additional resources for organizations to be able to support the health and well-being of their communities, continue mobilizing people in defense of Black lives, and to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and people of color and communities made vulnerable are not being left out of the democratic process during an important election year.
The current COVID-19 global pandemic has shifted the way our grantees (movement partners) work and respond to their communities. In the last month, YEF staff spoke with our movement partners to ask how to best support their organizational shifts, staffing issues, and wellness in light of this new reality. Organizationally, movement partners have told us about their financial, staffing, and strategy shifts. Many staff members are working from home and often balancing family demands with a full time work schedule. For many organizations, this shift has created a need for increased technology and software subscriptions to stay connected to new virtual teams. Below, we’ve shared findings from our conversations with the organizations on the ground as they navigate the global pandemic.
Youth organizations are a trusted voice in the community. They are balancing a sense of urgency and responsibility to both lead their organizations, families and community at large.
There is a clear need for flexibility on evaluation and metrics during this time of uncertainty.
Organizations are trying to quickly shift into digital workspaces and organizing, and virtual communities. There are a host of digital platforms, tools, training and coaching needed to make these immediate transitions.
Digital Organizing + Virtual Political Education
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