The Overbrook Foundation’s grantee, the Catalyst Fund, has released its annual evaluation (conducted by Korwin Consulting) of the fund’s activities and those of its partners and grantees in 2011. This report provides an analysis of the work of the Catalyst Fund to expand the amount of available funds going to support grassroots Women of Color-led reproductive justice organizations. In doing so, the report also provides a sense of the challenges and opportunities facing the reproductive justice field as a whole across the country. It explains the diminishing funds going to support this work even though the impact of the groups has been higher in 2011. The report lays out the model for the fund. 26 national foundations support Catalyst which then gives grants to 12 women’s foundations around the country. In turn, these women’s foundations must raise the money to match the grant from Catalyst and then use both of these amounts to grant to 96 grassroots reproductive justice groups. In spite of the economic downturn, the Catalyst Fund has encouraged donors, including many individual donors, to move $8.6 million in new money to support the reproductive justice field since 2008.
Beyond the explanation of this exciting funding mechanism this gives a great overview of the reproductive justice movement and the field. It introduces the issues being addressed by these groups (ranging from abortion access to parenting rights to environmental justice) and the communities being served. It also reports the number of organizations that are engaging in different strategies like alliance building, policy advocacy, community organizing and more. As the report states, “Collectively, Catalyst grantees in 2011 were instrumental in the passage of 10 laws and 10 non-legislative policies while blocking passage of 28 harmful new laws and protecting two existing policies from repeal.” The evaluation also addresses the challenges to the fund’s work and in the field as a whole. It highlights the fund raising, communications and capacity difficulties for the groups as well as the current political environment which can be both helpful and harmful to their efforts.
In addition to the quantitative data on policy victories, opinion leaders influenced and alliances built, qualitative interviews and stories of the grassroots groups’ work reveal why foundations and other partners, including Overbrook, have been so excited to be a part of this project. The evaluation reveals that this work is not easy, but these groups are continuing to demonstrate impact. From our perspective, supporting local grassroots groups working on the issues most important to their communities and led by those who are most impacted by reproductive health inequities is essential to expanding access to reproductive justice here in the United States.