MOney in politics

The imbalance of power between advocates for social change and the powerful wealthy individuals and corporations opposing their agendas has always created significant challenges for Foundation grantees trying to affect the public policies impacting their communities. With Citizens United and other negative court decisions, vast sums of money are now flowing into federal, state and local campaigns to elect policy makers and judges. Beyond elections, the influence of well-funded lobbyists at the state and federal level often represents another barrier to advancing social justice. However, organizations and individuals across identities, geographies and political ideologies are pushing back and advocating for a future where everyone has an equal voice in the political process.

Given the impact of this system on the environmental and human rights issues that Overbrook cares about, the Foundation has launched an initiative to support efforts to reform the corrosive role of money in our democracy and to promote a future where government is representative of and responsive to the needs of communities. Overbrook particularly seeks to support projects that are employing innovative strategies to engage the broader public on these issues, focusing on promoting solutions and building a larger and more diverse grassroots base of people supporting a movement for reform. Moving forward, the Foundation expects to prioritize funding for projects working at the intersection of money in politics reform and other areas of focus for Overbrook, including environmental, racial and gender justice.

Below are the Foundation’s 2017 grantees in this portfolio.

Dēmos: A Network for Ideas & Action

Inclusive Democracy Partnership - $100,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

Throughout all of its work, Dēmos challenges our country to live up to its potential as a democracy that truly empowers people of all backgrounds, so that all Americans have an equal say in setting the policies that shape opportunity and provide for our common future. The purpose of the Inclusive Democracy Partnership is to more closely align the racial justice movement and the democracy reform field in ways that advance the people’s power to achieve political, gender, economic, and racial equity. An important goal of this work is to broaden the democracy reform field to include and center the leadership of organizations advancing campaigns in communities of color and possessing the capacities and membership bases needed to create a more inclusive field. The Inclusive Democracy Partnership is designed to convene and support a cohort of state-based groups that will integrate money in politics and affirmative voting reforms into their work to advance an economic and racial justice agenda and strategy to build political power.

Free Speech for People

General Operating Support - $50,000

Free Speech for People works to renew our democracy and our United States Constitution for we the people, not big money and corporate interests. Founded on the day of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, Free Speech For People envisions a democratic process in which all people have an equal voice and an equal vote. It catalyzes and helps lead the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and Buckley v. Valeo, and the doctrines underlying those rulings. It engages in legal advocacy to advance a new jurisprudence on money in politics and to confront the misuse of the U.S. Constitution to claim corporate exemptions from our laws. It develops and advocates for model laws and other tools to challenge big money in politics and to make corporations responsible and accountable to the public.

Not An Alternative

The Natural History Museum - $20,000 (With an additional $30,000 awarded by the Environment Program)

The Natural History Museum (NHM), a project of the Brooklyn-based nonprofit art collective Not An Alternative, is a mobile and pop-up museum that highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature. The NHM aims to inspire established science and natural history museums to reevaluate their roles in the midst of the climate crisis. The Natural History Museum acts as a catalyst and connector amongst museum insiders who seek to move their institutions towards greater relevancy, scientists who seek platforms for exercising their expertise in the service of social responsibility, and advocates who want to bring the realities of the excluded into the bigger narratives of science and natural history. Deploying both inside and outside engagement strategies, The Natural History Museum inspires museums to cut ties to fossil fuel interests, to create a new narrative about natural history that educates and measurably influences public opinion, and inspires collective action. 

Piper Fund

General Operating Support - $50,000

Piper Fund is a donor collaborative that unites individual donors and foundations to diminish the influence of corporate and special interest money on our political and judicial systems. Piper fosters community-driven democratic reforms that will increase participation of historically disenfranchised communities, build community power, and protect fundamental rights for all individuals. Piper invests in a comprehensive strategy to achieve and defend reform. It provides grants directly to state and local organizations that build broad grassroots coalitions to perform public education, litigation, and research; and to national groups who provide technical assistance to grantees.

Grantees by Year:  2017  |  2016  |  2015  |  2014