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The Collaboration Conference 2015

November 16–17, 2015

Houston, Texas

B3 Breakout Session: Strengthening Intersectionality Through Collaborative Grantmaking

Monday, November 16, 2015 at 10:45 AM–12:00 PM Central Time (US & Canada)
Dogwood (Third Level)

Most grantmakers recognize that social issues are fundamentally interconnected. At the same time, their institutions may strive for narrow strategy priorities so as to delineate, fund and evaluate achievable goals. This “silo-ing” of portfolios constrains grantmakers’ efforts to support movement building across constituencies and social justice issues — issues that grantees see as interrelated. In this session, a grantmaker, an intermediary and a grantee will share insights, challenges and key lessons drawn from their experiences with pooled-funding collaborations that embrace an intersectional strategy across social issues. Their stories and advice stem from two long-lasting national funds: Communities for Public Education Reform and the Four Freedoms Fund. Collectively, these funds supported work across immigrant and LGBTQ rights, education reform and juvenile justice by engaging 87 foundation partners and granting $117 million to 390 grantees. Join this session to share your own successes and challenges in partnering with other funders to support intersectional strategy efforts and social movements. You will leave with knowledge of approaches like making direct grants to multi-issue alliances and coalitions, “ecosystem” funding to clusters of groups with shared goals, and co-funding cross-issue campaigns.

Primary Points Of Contact

Michele Lord, NEO Philanthropy

Session Designers

Melinda Fine, TCC Group


Patrick Horvath, The Denver Foundation

Patrick Horvath is Deputy Vice President of Programs, Denver Foundation, and served previously as Director of the Denver Foundation's Strengthening Neighborhoods Program, which "works with residents of the Foundation's partner neighborhoods to help them make their communities better places to live."  Patrick was a founding member of the Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER) Fund, an 8 year effort that engaged 76 foundation members, and raised and invested $34M to 140 grassroots and advocacy groups in national coalitions and in six regions across the country, including Denver, CO.   Patrick played a leadership role on CPER’s national governance committee and its local Denver, CO funder table, which engaged ideologically and issue-diverse funders in the areas of education reform, community development, immigration rights, and economic security.  Patrick will share insights gleaned from CPER’s intersectional strategy to support (successful) grassroots and advocacy that ensured legislation providing Colorado’s undocumented students with access to an in-state tuition rate for higher education. 

Julien Ross, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition

Julien Ross is Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), having served in that position since 2006.  A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico with lifelong roots in Colorado, Julien also serves on the Executive Committees of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and is Co-Chair for the National Partnership for New Americans, two national organizations working for immigration reform and immigrant integration.  During Julien's tenure, CIRC has fought vigorously for citizenship for the undocumented, to protect the civil liberties and human rights of all Coloradans, and for a full integration of immigrants into community life in the U.S.  CIRC’s work on LGBT-immigration intersectionality has had policy, legal, advocacy and cultural impact in both communities.  Julien will share insights about CIRC’s multi-issue, coalitional work, sharing both opportunities and challenges, and addressing what grantees want funders to 

Michele Lord, NEO Philanthropy

Michele has worked in the philanthropic sector since 1993. During the past 15 years, she has led NEO Philanthropy through a period of dramatic growth in its program offerings and reach in philanthropy. Today, NEO has over 32 staff and an operating budget of $42 million. She has helped create and manage NEO’s 12 signature collaborative and partner funds that together have raised $222 million in revenue since 2010 and engaged more than 130 national, state and local foundations, family foundations and individual donors. In January 2011, Michele transitioned into a co-leadership model with NEO’s Deputy Director Berta Colón, both becoming President of NEO Philanthropy.  Michele has deep experience managing and advising family foundations and individual donors. She currently serves as the Director of the Ottinger Foundation, a small New York-based family foundation that supports work in the areas of economic justice, civic participation and environmental justice.

Session Materials