We ignite change. We support transformative leadership and courageous storytelling, inspiring action toward a peaceful, just, sustainable future.
In November of 2019, the Compton Foundation Board announced that it will be spending out the Foundation’s assets and closing its doors by the end of 2025. This decision is a response to the severity, urgency, and scale of the threats facing our grant partners and all advocates working for a more peaceful, climate resilient, just, and democratic world. For more information about the rationale behind the spend-out, read the Board’s statement.
While our mission will not change in the years the Foundation has left, we are making some changes to our grantmaking strategy and process, which are reflected below.
What we fund
The Compton Foundation’s grantmaking is done by invitation only. You can read about why we closed our open inquiry process on our blog.
While we do not have a public inquiry process for potential new grants, an outline of our focus and strategy for grantmaking is below.
For over 50 years, the Compton Foundation has supported work in climate change, progressive foreign policy, and reproductive rights and justice. As we move into our final years of grantmaking, we will support projects that work at the intersection of those issues and support the democratic infrastructure and robust civic engagement that is necessary to ensure a positive future. Within our core issues, the work we support exemplifies our strategy of investing in transformative leadership and courageous storytelling approaches. See our recent grants here.
For the Compton Foundation, transformative leadership means working collaboratively across difference, building positive visions for long-term social and environmental change, figuring out the strategies, partnerships, and divisions of labor across institutional and sector boundaries required to get there, and starting down the road to implementing them. We know it requires challenging the structural status quo and putting in the time to build authentic relationships. At its core, it is movement building.
Our courageous storytelling strategy emerges from the understanding that the stories we tell shape how we connect to each other and the world around us. Stories are the filters through which we understand information and thus have enormous power. Changing stories has the potential to alter culture, politics, policy, and behavior. To that end, we fund the work of artists working to make vivid and irresistible the better world and society for which we work, as well as organizers working to harness the power of culture and narrative to spark social change.
In the years since adopting these strategies in 2011, we have come to see them not as a binary, but as convergent. Stories are most powerful when those telling them are strategic about how to leverage them for impact, and many organizers now understand that to have long-lasting success, they will have to understand and shift cultural barriers. In our final years of grantmaking, we will support organizations that integrate these approaches.
How we fund
The Compton Foundation does invitation-only grantmaking. We have a commitment to long-term, relationship-based grantmaking, and approximately two-thirds of our grantmaking budget in our final years will be allocated to sizable, multi-year, general operating support grants to longtime grant partners.
The remaining third of our grants budget will be allocated to rapid response “meeting the moment” grants, allowing us to move money quickly to projects within our core areas that specifically address breaking opportunities, support convening across issue areas, and/or allow for strategic, timely interventions.