FCYO'S 2020 Funder Scan: Investing in the Power of Young People

Investing in the Power of Young People: 20 Years of Philanthropic Support for Youth Organizing

While 2020 demonstrated the palpable strength of a resourced youth organizing field, youth organizing remains a deeply underfunded and marginalized arena of philanthropic investment. Many groups are still unable to get the resources they need, with persistent disparities across constituencies, issues, and geographic regions. There are yet many untapped philanthropic allies.

FCYO is excited to announce the release of our 2020 Funder Scan "Investing in the Power of Young People: 20 Years of Philanthropic Support for Youth Organizing," which evaluates the critical role philanthropy has played in shoring up a youth organizing field poised to meet the multiple challenges of this moment. This report is part of FCYO’s 2020 National Youth Organizing Field Scan, a series of four reports that together offer an  in-depth look into a field that has grown in significant ways over the last two decades.

Compiling insights from interviews with nine institutional funders and surveys of over 312 youth organizing groups, we witness a funder community that has transformed alongside the youth organizing field in major ways.

In this report, we first look back to FCYO’s origins and hear from the early funders deeply dedicated to youth organizing as a vehicle for social change who weathered the shifting economic and political landscapes of the 21st century to envision and build a committed community of philanthropic practice. We learn from youth organizing groups about their experience as recipients and partners in this community, finding that while the funding landscape expanded and diversified, important growth edges remain. And, importantly, we hear the nuanced insights of current youth organizing funders on their key priorities for the work ahead, including:

  1. Investing in field infrastructure, including supporting national and regional collabora-tives and advancing research
  1. Supporting leadership development and organizational capacity-building
  1. Recognizing and valuing the connectivity of youth organizing to youth development, civic engagement, the arts, and other issue areas

This report was researched and written by Dr. Seema Shah for the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing. We wish to express appreciation to Veronica Terriquez of University of California-Santa Cruz and Michelle Valladares and Siomara Valladares of University of Colorado-Boulder and their respective research teams for providing data that informed this report, as well as their insightful contributions to the development of this paper. In addition, Kaila Thorn of Penn State University provided research assistance for this project. Eric Braxton, Kel Kroehle, and Mona Yeh of the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing also provided valuable guidance and feedback in shaping the report.