Update From the Foundation

December Reflections 2012

December 20, 2012

The end of the year is often a time for reflecting on what has passed. Here at the Compton Foundation, it feels like we have been on quite a journey this year as we have worked to bring our new mission and vision alive. We have made 77 grants, using each one as an opportunity to explore the range of possible strategies that might be termed transformative leadership or courageous storytelling. The grants have highlighted the myriad ways these ideas are being addressed and the people, organizations, and projects that are actively engaged in bringing new work to life.

Through these leadership and storytelling grants, we have addressed concerns in and beyond all of the Foundation’s traditional issue areas, including climate change, foreign policy, peace building, green jobs, the new economy, money in politics, women’s reproductive rights and justice, sustainable food, and art for social/environmental change. We have supported local and international endeavors, artists, individual leaders and networks of organizations, groups doing direct action as well as those advocating for policy change, organizations imagining vibrant new ways to live with one another and our environment and those telling stories using innovative social media.

As we head into 2013, we recognize that we must continue to learn about how best to use the resources with which we are entrusted to advance a vision of a sustainable, peaceful, and just future. We are thinking of our process as an adaptive strategy, informed by what we find along the way and responsive to the changing context in which we all live. While there are some things that are clear as we move into 2013, there is more that we do not know, and we look forward to continuing to learn, along with our partners and colleagues, about how social and environmental change is unfolding in the 21st century.

Some of what we do know about how our work is unfolding includes:

• Although our first filter will be leadership and storytelling, our grantmaking will remain rooted in our traditional areas of work: peace, environment, and women’s reproductive rights and justice.

• We are interested in efforts that are multi-dimensional: work that builds bridges between issues and across traditional organizational boundaries, embraces a systems approach, and uses multiple strategies and tools to advance change.

• There is rich opportunity at the intersection of leadership and storytelling. Some of the work that is inspiring us includes those organizations and networks in which story is an integral part of engagement, organizing, and movement building.

•  Culture change will be an essential aspect of our strategy moving forward. If we are going to change the political and economic systems within which we live and work, we need to disrupt the fundamental narratives we tell ourselves about who we are and how we relate to one another. Artists of all kinds help us do that.

We designed 2012 as a year of internal investigation and learning, and we deeply appreciate all the time people have spent thinking with us about our new mission and considering whether and how it might be a match for their own efforts. Since we posted the new mission and guidelines this February, we have received more than 600 inquiries. While we have frankly been a bit overwhelmed, each one inspired us, and each one helped us define, just a little bit better, where we could invest our resources in the world to make a difference. This kind of conversation has been and will continue to be critical to our continued evolution.

With much gratitude and wishes for a healthy, peaceful, and sustainable new year,

The Compton team

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