Frequently Asked Questions
For our DMV Power Fund, the Foundation has prepared specific answers to several frequently asked questions. Click on the FAQ to view the answer.
What do you mean by advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement?
There are varying definitions for advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement. The following definitions from our colleagues resonate the most with the Weissberg Foundation.
Any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. It includes public education, regulatory work, litigation, and work before administrative bodies, lobbying, voter registration, voter education, and more.
- Community organizing
A multi-faceted strategy for social change that relies on the leadership of members from the affected community to bring about change. HSF also states the following goals of community organizing: 1) improve social conditions, outcomes, and the quality of life for marginalized communities through systemic change; 2) build the leadership within marginalized communities; and 3) strengthen democratic participation and accountability of decision makers to marginalized communities.
- Civic engagement
The process of helping people be active participants in building and strengthening their communities, whether that community is defined as a physical place, or a shared identity/interest. In other words, civic engagement is a spectrum of ways people can participate in self governance, from interactions with government to voluntary associations, and everything in between.
Why does DMV Power only support organizations engaged in advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement?
In Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy writes that, “Organizations working on policy advocacy, organizing and civic engagement offer a powerful real-world example of systems thinking and theory in action. This work enhances our pluralistic democracy, provides voice to communities that would otherwise not be heard, demonstrates an understanding of systemic reform and results in tremendous impact. With several notable exceptions, civic engagement, advocacy and organizing are under-funded by foundations, and community groups struggle to raise the resources needed to engage in this important work.” Though this was written in 2009, it still holds true.
Can you elaborate on the core principles of the DMV Power program?
- Systemic Oppression– when social systems and institutions perpetuate racism because they are structurally inequitable (i.e., they are intentionally structured to deny access, opportunity, and power to certain groups).
- Lived Experience– the understanding that only individuals who experience oppression can speak first-hand to the ways that their experiences have shaped their perspectives on racism or intersect with racial justice.
- Multi-Issue Lives– an acknowledgement that those who experience oppression most often do not experience it on only one front or through only one facet of life; racial inequity is perpetuated through overlapping and compounded issues such as housing inequity, food scarcity, educational inopportunity, involvement in the criminal justice system, and a lack of/under-employment, among others.
- Intersectionality– a recognition that identity is dynamic and multi-layered and that each of these components independently and when taken together reflect a spectrum of power and oppression that exist among a long list of social strata such as race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, etc.
- Historical Oppression– the experience of injustice that is both ubiquitous and chronic, which holds weight intergenerationally; this structural exclusion and inequity has been over time normalized into the lives of those experiencing it and internalized into those perpetuating it.
- Anti-Racism– the practice of intentionally opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance through actions and belief systems.
What are some examples of disrupting, moving and voicing power?
- Disrupting power might include offering political educational opportunities to the community and/or challenging governmental systems through mobilizing and engaging constituents to push forward policy change, propose alternative legislation, and testify at hearings.
- Moving power might include creating strategic, issue-based campaigns and/or engaging community members in on the ground efforts, such as door knocking, resource distribution, and local forums and talks.
- Voicing power might include focusing on building, shaping, and changing narratives and/or engaging community members in conversations to address and advance issues that are central to their lives.
Why does this initiative focus on people of color, specifically those who are multiply impacted by systems?
When thinking about race equity across the Washington metropolitan region and within the entire commonwealth of Virginia, it is essential to center those who are most directly impacted by racism. Historically, people of color in the region have been under-resourced and underserved through social, political, and economic systems that perpetuate inequity. Additionally, we recognize that those who are most impacted by these systems will likely experience inequity in more than one region of their lived experience be in housing, education, etc., and as such we believe that those living multi-issue lives should be at the core of the work. Further, identity is multi-faceted, and as such we recognize that people’s identities extend beyond just race to include other factors such as sexual orientation, gender, age religion, ability, etc., which further shape their experiences as people of color.
When will the Foundation issue an RFP for the next round of the DMV Power Fund?
The inaugural DMV Power Fund grants will run from January 2020 through January 2024. Though we anticipate releasing an RFP for another round of funding in the fall of 2023, this is still to be determined.