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 2018 grantees in this portfolio.
Money in Politics - $100,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)
The Brennan Center for Justice is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. Since 2010, Citizens United has unleashed a flood of money in American elections, further tilting the political terrain away from ordinary citizens – and toward deep pocketed special interests. The Brennan Center is working to mitigate the damage of Citizens United and related cases by focusing on immediate strategies for boosting the voices of voters. At the same time, the Brennan Center is charting a path for achieving a fundamental transformation of the constitutional framework for money in politics.
General Operating Support - $50,000
Democracy Initiative Education Fund (DIEF) is a dynamic coalition of 69 activist and policy organizations representing a membership of 40 million people, including organizations whose primary focus is on climate justice, civil rights, and workers. Major progressive organizations founded DIEF on the tenet that outsized political spending and voter suppression diminish fairness of the process and reduce accountability in governance on our groups’ kitchen table issues. Together with its partners, DIEF is building a broad-based, multiracial, intersectional democracy movement committed to building demand among the members of its issue organizations for reforms and engagement that will reduce the influence of money in politics and create a democracy that works for all.
Inclusive Democracy Project - $100,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)
Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. The Demos Inclusive Democracy Project works with partner organizations to incorporate a racial, economic, and gender justice perspective into the pro-democracy movement. The Inclusive Democracy Project is a growing majority-person of color cohort of powerful state-based leaders and their organizations committed to strengthening infrastructure, building a national network of supportive partners, and moving multi-issue inclusive democracy agendas in compelling state-level campaigns.
General Operating Support - $40,000
Free Speech For People works to renew the United States’ democracy and Constitution for we the people. 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.
General Operating Support - $50,000
OLÉ Education Fund is a non-profit, grassroots member organization of working families. Since 2009, their members and staff have worked together to strengthen their communities using issue-based campaigns and voter engagement to ensure that working families are playing a critical role in shaping New Mexico’s future with a united voice. By focusing efforts on building a base of unlikely voters, OLÉ Education Fund can shift the electorate in New Mexico to reflect the population and serve the interests of hard-working families.
General Operating Support and the Democracy Collaborative - $125,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)
Piper Fund is a donor collaborative that unites individual donors and foundations to defend democratic institutions and 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 three grantmaking areas: 1) money in politics reform; 2) protection of the judicial branch; and 3) protection of the right to protest. Overbrook supports the Piper Fund’s overall grantmaking and the Democracy Collaborative (managed by ReThink Media), which helps drive strategic communications in the democracy reform field.
General Operating Support - $75,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)
RepresentUs Education Fund (RUEF) is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization working to fix our corrupt political system and involve the public in the democratic process. Through education, organizing, and advocacy, RUEF promotes equality, ethics, and transparency in elections and government.