2022 Strategy Refresh

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2022 STRATEGY REFRESH Building Youth Power to Achieve Liberation, Safety, Justice, and Well-Being



Executive Summary Contributors & Appreciations Strategy Refresh Introduction 8–11 12–25 26–33

AFF Impact Lessons Learned Proposed Strategic Refresh

Updated Theory of Change Graphic Mission Vision Values Problem Statement Goals 34–40

Implications for AFF’s Work

Grantmaking Capacity Building Resource & Funder Organizing Narrative Change 41–42 43 44

Learning for Action Planning for Implementation Appendix

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Building Youth Power to Achieve Liberation, Safety, Justice, and Well-Being In 2021 the Andrus Family Fund (AFF) launched a strategic planning process to revisit our strategies for expanding opportunity for young people in the child welfare and youth justice systems. It has been over seven years since we last undertook strategic planning. In that time, grantees have made significant gains and faced remarkable obstacles, allowing us to deepen our understanding of the field and issues. In addition, several factors have shifted since the Board approved the current Theory of Change. Internally, Surdna and AFF sharpened our programmatic focus on racial justice in 2018. Externally, the political landscape has also shifted dramatically, including an environment that has emboldened white supremacists, a global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted the communities we support and personally affected many grantees, and widespread racial justice uprisings that have propelled issues of race and power into the national discourse. Our strategic planning process, which took the course of the year, builds off the lessons we and our partners have learned. In developing the strategic framework, we have taken our lead from our partners who are deeply rooted in the communities in which they work. The culmination of the process is a strategic “refresh” that we are excited to share with the Board.



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY CONT. We are recommending a framework that is intentionally more ambitious in goals and scope than our current Theory of Change, based on where we understand the field is headed. Over the next five years, our key recommendations are that AFF: •

Recommit to a focus on youth impacted by youth justice and child welfare systems

Claim abolition of these systems as a primary goal, including deepening support for the alternatives and lifting up innovation and experimentation

Adopt a power-building approach to all aspects of our internal and external work and evolve beyond “youth engagement” to embrace “youth leadership”

Prioritize grassroots organizing and advocacy led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth impacted by disruptive systems, including LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth

Focus capacity-building strategies primarily on building movement infrastructure and strengthening the field of organizing and advocacy led by youth directly impacted by disruptive systems

Develop a funder organizing strategy geared towards driving more resources to abolitionist youth organizing, including a learning agenda to help funders and the field deepen our collective understanding of how best to support youth-led abolitionist organizing

Responsibly wind down grants that do not align with the new framework (e.g., direct services, workforce development grants, and mindfulness training)

While many details of the strategy will need to be fleshed out during the implementation phase, we believe this framework will leverage AFF’s unique strengths and values to deepen our impact on the ground and will position AFF to occupy an even greater leadership role within philanthropy.

“As a grantmaker, you cannot truly strive for and advance equity until you understand your own power and privileges in society and in relation to your grantees.” — National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy OVERVIEW | PAGE 4


WRITERS & CONTRIBUTORS The AFF Strategic Planning Process was led by Rusia Mohiuddin of Universal Partnership in close partnership with AFF’s Director, Manuela Arciniegas, and AFF Staff members Nyoka Acevedo, Program Officer, and Zaira Cedano, Program Associate. Carrie Rae Boatman, consultant, contributed to the funder field scan and analysis, and Katayoon Majd, consultant, supported by writing this report and synthesizing the data and conversations held by our primary stakeholders- the AFF Movement Partner Advisory Council (MPAC) comprised of movement leaders, and the AFF Board. The MPAC was made up of the following leaders: Jenny Arwade/ Communities United, Kisha Bird/formerly with The Center for Law and Social Policy, Jaime Koppel/Communities for Just Schools Fund, Charles Long/Movement for Black Lives, Susan Mangold/Juvenile Law Center, Juan Martinez Pineda/Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, Jessica Nowlan/Young Women’s Freedom Center, Adilka Pimentel/formerly with Make the Road NY, Ninja Raoul/Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, Liz Ryan/Youth First Initiative, Liz Tril/YR Media, and Don Wells/ Just in Time for Foster Youth. The AFF Board includes: CC Gardner-Gleser/Chair, Kaitlin Miles/Vice-Chair, Emily Klass/Secretary, Julia Voorhees/Treasurer, Lindsey Griffith, Jesus Gonzalez, Ray Holgado, Darryl Hannah, Meg Belais, Megan Kelly, Emily Klass, Kay Korchnak, Elizabeth Olsson, Marcus Pope, and Zelpha Williams.

APPRECIATIONS Thank you to the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program and to Kelly Nowlin for her steadfast support of AFF’s vision and leadership. Thank you to Don Chen, Surdna President, Elizabeth Cahill, Communications Director, the Surdna Foundation Board and Staff, and SolDesign for their steadfast partnership and Communications support.



INTRODUCTION Since the Andrus Family Fund (AFF) Board approved the current Theory of Change in 2014, AFF has supported a range of strategies focused on reducing the harms of youth justice and child welfare systems across the country and on promoting best practices in supporting the holistic development of youth. AFF has also seeded critical resource organizing efforts that allowed us to punch above our weight as a small funder. A critical component of the strategy has been supporting grantee partners who elevate the voices and recommendations of directly impacted youth in their work. The work has been both challenging and impactful and has positioned AFF as a well-respected partner to grantees and funder colleagues. In the seven years since the Board approved the Theory of Change (see Appendix), we have learned quite a bit, and many factors have shifted, including dramatic changes in our nation and world in the last two years alone. These shifts necessitate a reexamination of how AFF can best maximize its impact as a social justice funder focused on expanding opportunity and securing justice for youth. As a result, and at the recommendation of Board Vice-Chair Kaitlin Spensley, AFF spent the last year undergoing a comprehensive strategic planning process to revisit our goals and strategies over the next five years.



INTRODUCTION CONT. Facilitated by Rusia Mohiuddin of Universal Partnership, the strategic planning process engaged all staff, board members, the newly formed Movement Partner Advisory Council (MPAC) comprised of 12 AFF grantee partner leaders, and other field partners. The recommendations provided here are based on input from that process1, as well as conversations with 14 key funding partners; a concurrent analysis of the philanthropic landscape by consultant Carrie Rae Boatman; the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s report about grantee perceptions of AFF; and staff’s analysis of lessons learned and field developments since 2015. Based on all we have learned, we are recommending a strategic “refresh” of the 2014 Theory of Change. What is proposed here represents a natural evolution of, rather than a departure from, the work we have been supporting to date. Building off AFF’s strengths, we believe this updated strategic framework better aligns with the current needs, energy, and momentum in the field, and deepens AFF’s commitment to engaging in high-impact philanthropy, authentically accountable to the communities we serve.


The strategic planning process included three sessions of the Board and MPAC and three meetings of the Strategic Planning Committee; a stakeholders’ meeting; online surveys of partners, as well as a review of former kitchen cabinet meetings in prior years.



AFF IMPACT From 2015 through 2021, AFF made more than 230 grants to 151 organizations totaling over $30 million. Below are some notable examples of our impact over that time. (For a more indepth report on our impact, please see our 2021 memo to the Strategic Planning Committee.)


REMOVING POLICE FROM SCHOOL CAMPUSES Several grantee partners, including Communities for Just Schools Fund, have been working on campaigns that terminate contracts with school police and push for reinvestment in communityidentified priorities. For example, AFF partner Center for Teen Empowerment in New York and Communities for Just Schools Fund subgrantees like Yes 4 Minneapolis and Black Organizing Project in Oakland have successfully pushed school districts to terminate contracts with police in schools and advanced calls for reinvesting those dollars into supportive services for youth.

SECURING FACILITY CLOSURES AND REINVESTMENT Movement partners Youth First and subgrantees of the Youth First State Advocacy Fund have won or moved states closer to youth prison closures, including groups in Virginia, Kansas, New Jersey, and Maine. Movement partner Action St. Louis’ “Close the Workhouse” campaign has secured commitments to close the notorious jail in St. Louis and ensure funds are reinvested in community supports. New York grantee partners Exalt, Katal Center, Youth Represent, and Girls for Gender Equity have worked on the Close Rikers campaign.

REMOVING YOUTH FROM THE ADULT SYSTEM The since-closed Campaign for Youth Justice (a project continuing now at The Sentencing Project) has led the national movement to remove youth from the adult criminal justice system, including helping to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18 in 11 states, rolling back direct file laws in states like Colorado and California, and removing or limiting detention of youth in adult jails in 24 states.2


Evans, Brian. Winning the Campaign: State Trends in Fighting the Treatment of Children As Adults in the Criminal Justice System (20052020), Campaign for Youth Justice (2020). AFF IMPACT | PAGE 8



ENDING JUVENILE LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth, Juvenile Law Center, and Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights have advanced policy reforms and litigation strategies to end the inhumane practice of sentencing youth to life without parole. In total, in the last decade, 25 states and the District of Columbia have ended juvenile life without parole sentences.3

CREATING TRANSFORMATIVE ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION Movement partner Common Justice has been at the forefront of demonstrating the efficacy of incarceration alternatives through its transformative justice programs that afford healing and accountability for those harmed by – and those who committed – violent crimes in New York City.

HELPING YOUTH SUCCEED UPON RE-ENTRY Grantees like Exalt and Youth Represent have ensured that youth’s records are expunged upon completing their sentences and provided necessary professional and career development supports and wraparound services to help young people gain employment. In addition, grantees like Opportunity Youth Forum, the Forum for Youth Investment, Center for Law and Social Policy’s “Reconnecting Youth” Campaign, and others are training young people to advocate and organize for federal and state policy changes needed to create pathways and access funding for workforce, careers, and critical wraparound supports.


Rovner, Josh. Juvenile Life Without Parole: An Introduction, Sentencing Project (May 24, 2021).




PROVIDING HEALING JUSTICE SUPPORTS SOUL Sisters Leadership Collective, Lineage Project, and Resilient Strategies have supported youth with the development of mindfulness, wellbeing, culturally relevant and land-based healing modalities.

RAISING COLLEGE ACCESS FOR YOUTH IN THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM Partners like Educate Tomorrow have pioneered ways to increase college access and graduation rates for youth involved with the child welfare system, and are replicating their approach in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and other states.

EXTENDING FOSTER CARE National Network for Youth and Forum for Youth Investment’s Spark Action have advocated for federal legislation, including the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 which provided a one-time allotment of $400 million in additional funding for John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence programs4 for housing, education, and direct assistance, and temporarily expanded eligibility through age 26. 4

For background information, see John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (June 28, 2012).



RESOURCE MOBILIZATION AFF has helped launch critical resource organizing efforts to expand funding available to youth organizing and advocacy groups working to transform youth and education justice. Four such donor collaboratives include the Communities for Just Schools Fund; Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, which has successfully raised over $10 million for youth organizing through their 20th anniversary Youth Power Pledge; the Visionary Freedom Fund, which was featured in a Fast Company article in December, 20215; and the Youth First State Advocacy Fund.

CAPACITY BUILDING CONVENING GROUPS In collaboration with the Communities for Just Schools Fund, AFF has convened partners in the youth justice and child welfare fields three times to provide space to align strategies, share best practices, and advance collective learning.

BUILDING LEADERSHIP PIPELINES Groups like Katal, JustLeadershipUSA, and Foster Youth in Action train and employ directly impacted youth and adults. Transgender Law Center supports trans youth leaders to develop a federal policy agenda. Black Alliance for Just Immigration has similarly focused on leadership development of Black immigrant youth leaders across universities.

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS AND MOVEMENTS ON A RANGE OF NEEDS AFF developed S.O.A.R.: Sustaining Organizations & Amplifying Resilience, as a capacitybuilding program for our grantees. Through the program, consultants have provided a range of supports to grantees, including ReFrame Mentorship (communication and narrative support), National Urban Fellows (leadership development), Universal Partnership (healing justice support), Roadmap Consulting (diverse capacities and technical assistance), Social Movement Technologies (digital organizing), Equality Labs (digital security), and Vision Change Win (physical security.)


Kristin Toussaint, “This foundation let youth organizers decide where to give its money. It changed their whole understanding of philanthropy,” Fast Company (December 4, 2021).



2022 STRATEGY REFRESH LESSONS LEARNED Based on our experience supporting this work, and the input of diverse partners during strategic planning, we have identified ten lessons learned: 1. Sharpening our analysis of the problem 2. Adapting to the evolving landscape 3. The primacy of power 4. Youth organizing builds power 5. Narrowing our focus for greatest impact 6. Importance of sustained funding 7. Accelerating work with transformative potential 8. Embracing abolition as a goal and framework 9. Highlighting and resourcing alternatives 10. Clarity on AFF’s role in the evolving philanthropic landscape



LESSON 1 Sharpening our analysis of the problem To be effective, we must sharpen our analysis of the problem by examining the root causes of the issues we seek to address and clearly identify the youth we aim to support—Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth, including LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth.

The 2014 Theory of Change focused on addressing “disparate outcomes” for “vulnerable” youth impacted by youth justice systems and child welfare systems. We have gained clarity that our language must better reflect the complexity of the issues and the root causes driving them. Fundamentally, the issues of youth opportunity are not merely problems of policy or systems design; they reflect deep-seated inequality, underrepresentation of youth in the halls of power, hyper-criminalization and over-incarceration, and denial of safety and basic human rights. All these are manifestations of the enduring legacy of slavery and colonization, which have separated families and criminalized Black, Brown, and Indigenous people since our nation’s inception. To be effective, our analysis and strategies must account for these historical dimensions, which are rooted in white supremacy and extractive capitalism. In addition, we must be more precise about which youth disproportionately bear the burden of the harms in the youth justice and child welfare systems. The criminalization of young people and their communities operates at the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and documentation status. Experience demonstrates that strategies not specifically targeting these multiple forms of oppression will not equally benefit all youth. For example, we have seen that racial disparities typically rise, even as the total number of youth in the justice system decrease. According to the Sentencing Project, racial disparities in youth detention and incarceration facilities have grown, and Black youth are now more than four times as likely to be detained or incarcerated as white youth.6 To deepen our effectiveness, we believe it is critical that we intentionally and explicitly apply an intersectional, racial justice lens to our work. Law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality,” explains it as follows:

“It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality, or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.”7


Rovner, Josh, Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration, The Sentencing Project (July 15, 2021).


Steinmetz, Katie, “She Coined the Term ‘Intersectionality’ Over 30 Years Ago. Here’s What It Means to Her Today,” Time Magazine (February 20, 2020).



Deepening our impact requires us to explicitly identify these root causes and target our resources towards work that specifically benefits and is led by those who are most impacted by these systems—namely, Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth and communities, including LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth. After all, we cannot cure what we do not accurately diagnose.

LESSON 2 Adapting to the evolving landscape The COVID-19 pandemic and widespread racial justice uprisings have underscored the urgency of the issues and created both new opportunities and challenges.

The last two years have brought rapid, widespread change to the external context in which we operate. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated racial disparities, put significant strain on our grantees, both personally and professionally (particularly the groups with the least funding), and highlighted the fragility of hard-won policy changes. Youth in facilities faced significantly greater health risks, and while some jurisdictions released youth for public health reasons, releases were sporadic and generally not sustained. In addition, the pandemic exposed, yet again, that frontline community-based organizations (CBOs) are the most trusted groups to serve as frontline responders in moments of crisis. CBOs provided many marginalized communities with information and support, connecting people to mutual aid, emergency response supports, and up-to-date information on vaccine access and other life-saving measures. Since the pandemic began, these groups have worked around the clock, and some organizations have seen senior leaders step down or exit the field due to exhaustion. Despite all they are carrying, these groups still operate on shoe-string budgets and need significantly more support for the critical role they play in communities. During this time, widespread racial justice uprisings have also created new opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, more mainstream attention to longstanding racial injustices have given groups an opportunity to elevate their messages and push policymakers to do something to respond. On the other hand, backlash to this increased attention to racial justice has been swift. Many of our grantees have reported increased physical and digital security threats for speaking out and doing their work. Some states have passed laws to stifle and punish protest, including Florida, which criminalized protests and provided legal protection for vigilantes that choose to attack and harm protestors.8


Allen, Greg. “Florida Adopts Nation's Toughest Restrictions On Protests,” NPR (April 19, 2021).



LESSON 3 The primacy of power The issues impacting the youth AFF serves are ultimately about race and power, and thus necessitate a strategy that builds youth power.

As we have sharpened our analysis of the problems we address, one overarching truth has crystallized for us: the issues impacting our young people are, at bottom, about issues of power—who has it, who does not, and how it operates. Thus, to advance longterm, meaningful change, we must deeply invest in a power-building strategy for Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth. We adopt Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson’s definition of power.9 “Power” is the ability to change the rules and material conditions impacting communities. Power is the key factor in determining how systems and policies are designed and implemented and to what priorities financial resources are directed. Without a fundamental redistribution of power in society, any gains in the issues of youth justice and child welfare are likely to be shortlived. As Robinson describes:

“[B]eing able to change the rules means that we are moving the ball forward in a way that changes the systemic culture, and at the heart of it, creates a more human and a less hostile world for Black people. When Black people win, the history of this country has been that all of us win… I fundamentally believe that the investment… in Black people being not just present, but powerful, is an investment in making our democracy work for everyone.”10


Finley, Taryn. “We Built This: Rashad Robinson Is Redefining Our Approach To Digital Activism,” Huffington Post (February 1, 2019).


“Rashad Robinson: Redefining Our Approach To Digital Advocacy,” Color of Change (February 2019.)



LESSON 4 Youth organizing builds power We must move beyond strategies that “engage youth” but are primarily adult-led, to those strategies that are youth-led and build youth power to effectuate change.

Our original theory of change focused on youth engagement, but a power-building approach means shifting our focus to youth leadership. Youth organizing as a strategy is an effective approach for developing leaders and building power. We rely on the definition of “youth organizing” used by grantee Funders’ Collaborative for Youth Organizing (FCYO), which convenes youth organizing groups that have a proven record of winning sustained policy and systems change:

“Grounded in racial, gender, and economic justice, youth organizing is the process of engaging young people in building power for systemic change while supporting their individual and collective development.” To be effective, FCYO notes that youth organizing must: •

Embrace intersectionality and engage youth most impacted by injustice and systemic oppression

Have a refined and specific analysis of what power building means

Attend to the needs of youth they are organizing and support the leadership and holistic development of young people

Serve as a network/coalition anchor in their local community

Strengthen intergenerational and intersectional movements11

Examples of some grantees that engage in this type of impactful youth organizing include Young Women’s Freedom Center, Make the Road NY, Dream Defenders, Communities United, and others.


Youth Organizing Is Transforming Individuals and Building Collective Power, Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing.



LESSON 5 Narrowing our focus for greatest impact We can maximize impact by more strategically and intentionally focusing on a subset of strategies and issues within the youth justice and child welfare fields.

As you may recall, our 2014 Theory of Change was designed to be intentionally broad and exploratory. It includes funding for organizations anywhere in the United States and, subsequently, United States territories. Groups operate at the local, regional, or national level, use a racial justice lens to advance systems and structural change, and prioritize the voices and perspectives of directly impacted youth and families. But across the portfolio, grantee partners vary in terms of their political analysis, the types of reform they seek and their commitment to centering the leadership of young people directly impacted by disruptive systems. In youth justice, for instance, we have funded a wide range of issues: education justice and redefining safety; police accountability, gun violence reduction and community safety; pretrial and sentencing reform; diversion; improving conditions of confinement, juvenile life without parole, and re-entry; closing youth prisons and advancing abolition; and healing justice and community reinvestment. In child welfare, we have funded grantees to develop system interventions that ensure youth in the system can access education, work and career opportunities, well-being and wellness supports. We have also funded work to provide youth with trauma-informed interventions; funded community lawyering strategies; and engaged in strategies around civic engagement, donor organizing, narrative change, capacity building, and convening.



Grantmaking by Strategy 2015–Present Child Welfare System Transformation Trauma Informed Supports/Interventions


9% Legal Advocacy & Community Lawyering


Youth Justice System Transformation


Workforce & Career Pathways

12% Youth Justice & Child Welfare Systems Reform & Transformation


Capacity & Field Building


Supporting a range of issues and strategies across the youth justice and child welfare continuum has allowed us to learn what has the greatest potential to advance change. While that was the right strategy at the time, this expansive approach makes it difficult to assess impact in any one area and has spread our already-limited resources thin. Creating lasting impact on issues this complex takes steady, robust financial and capacity-building supports over the long term and trying to do too much with a modest grantmaking budget has made robust investment in any one area difficult.



LESSON 6 Importance of sustained funding These are long-term fights. Groups need to be able to rely on steady, long-term support to achieve their goals and implement victories successfully.

Philanthropy often funds groups to achieve specific policy wins, without resourcing implementation efforts. Without resourcing communities to ensure policy victories are implemented, there is no guarantee that legislative reforms will translate to meaningful changes on the ground. Backlash is often swift, with one win often being followed by opponents’ efforts to undo the reform or to adopt a new, regressive policy or practice in response. In our portfolio, several organizations and coalitions have closed prisons and requested the funds be reallocated only to have those public dollars either left unspent or used for other purposes. In Kansas, for example, Seed House (a Youth First campaign member) won a youth prison closure and a dedicated pot of reinvestment funds for youth-serving community alternatives but the dollars have remained in a lockbox fund in government, without a dedicated process for the community to apply or have access to it. Organized bases of people working at the local and state levels are the ones best positioned to ensure policymakers stay the course and follow through on their commitments. These local groups— who have the most at stake—will be doing the work to translate policies into improved conditions on the ground, long after national groups have shifted their attention elsewhere. Funding local groups for implementation includes bolstering their capacity over the long term and strengthening them to withstand sometimes-violent backlash that comes with progress, like the response to the racial justice uprisings.



LESSON 7 Accelerating work with transformative potential We must deepen support to groups who are working on issues and strategies that have the most potential for advancing transformation rather than simply reform.

Some of the most impactful work in our portfolio has centered on youth justice transformation. That work authentically centers young people, is local or statebased, and strives for wide-scale change. In particular, the field has won policies committing to divesting from prisons and policing and reinvesting in community, as described previously. At the same time, strategies solely focused on direct services or on achieving isolated policy wins have had limited transformative impact. Without a broader political analysis that addresses the root causes of the issues, such strategies might lead to short-term results without fundamentally shifting resources and power to the communities most affected by disruptive systems.

LESSON 8 Embracing abolition as a goal and framework If we are serious about taking our lead from the youth most impacted by youth justice and child welfare systems, we must embrace abolition as the long-term goal of our work.

To center youth and youth-led organizing means youth will drive the agenda for change, and youth organizers are increasingly calling for abolitionist goals. At its core, abolition is about changing how society responds to harm. Instead of investing in prisons and policing, abolitionists call to invest in what communities need to be safe and thrive - housing, jobs, access to health care and social services. For example, grantees’ work to close youth prisons, remove school police from campuses, and divert youth from the youth justice system align with abolitionist frameworks. Organizations also are calling for policy changes that curtail the reach of the child welfare system by not criminalizing drug use or mandating drug testing, addressing mandated reporting requirements in schools, ending family separation at the border, promoting transfers of direct cash to youth in need and ending the criminalization of poverty for youth and families, and promoting family reunification efforts.



With the racial justice uprisings in the last year and a half and the chorus of calls to Defund the Police, the notion of abolition has gained growing recognition in the mainstream discourse.12 Recent books on the topic include Mariama Kaba’s We Do this ‘Til We Free Us, which is a New York Times bestseller; Derecka Purnell’s Becoming Abolitionists, which was named a Kirkus Reviews “Best Book of 2021;” and the just-released Abolition. Feminism. Now., by Angela Davis, Gina Dent, Erica Meiners and Beth Richie. In addition, a new book on child welfare abolition by award-winning scholar Dorothy Roberts, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare “Abolition is about presence, System Destroys Black Families—and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World, will be not absence. It's about released this year.

building life-affirming institutions.”

Yet the notion of “abolition” is often misunderstood. Critical Resistance, a movement leader organization, defines — Ruth Wilson Gilmore abolition as “a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance, and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.” The building of these alternatives is paramount to ending surveillance and imprisonment. In child welfare, the notion of abolition has received less mainstream attention, but scholars like Dorothy Roberts have long called for the systems’ abolition. In addition, “[c]alls to defund the police have inspired families and advocates to rally for dismantling the family regulation system.”13 Child welfare abolition is based on similar principles as prison abolition. Former grantee Center for the Study of Social Policy explains, child welfare abolition

“does not mean abandoning the need to protect children. It means building new ways of protecting and supporting families that also dismantle coercive systems of surveillance and punishment. It means engaging in the work of building radically different systems of care that recognize the basic need of children to be with their families in safe and supportive communities. This work must be done with families at the forefront.”14


Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor,“The Emerging Movement for Police and Prison Abolition,” The New Yorker (May 7, 2021).


Godsoe, Cynthia. (August 6, 2020). “An Abolitionist Horizon for Child Welfare.” LPE Project.


Dettlaff, Weber, Pendleton, Bettencourt, and Burton, “What it means to abolish child welfare as we know it.” The Imprint. (October 14, 2020). LESSONS LEARNED | PAGE 21


Current grantee Movement for Family Power, which works to end racialized surveillance of Black and Brown pregnant persons, also calls for child welfare abolition. The group explains, “[E]xisting systems of punishment and control, such as the foster care system are not designed to help families thrive. We believe in a total divestment from the foster care system and investment in community.”15 LESSON 9 Highlighting and resourcing alternatives AFF can play a catalytic role by continuing to highlight and provide seed funding to community-created, abolitionist alternatives to current systems of policing, incarceration, and family separation.

“The abolition of family policing should be at the top of the left’s agenda. A growing movement to dismantle the family regulation system led by parents and youth who have been ensnared in it is already charting the way… With a common vision for meeting human needs and ensuring safety, we can build a world where caging people and tearing families apart are unimaginable.”

Abolition is inherently about building alternative responses, approaches, and systems. In addition to funding work to curtail the reach of youth justice and child welfare systems, AFF has played a pivotal role by resourcing new — Acclaimed Professor ideas for community-created and community-led Dorothy Roberts, University of alternatives to incarceration and family separation Pennsylvania Law School that will promote safety and well-being. One leading example is Common Justice, which has supported alternatives to incarceration to bring about transformation and accountability both to harmed parties and people who have committed violent crimes. Similarly, youth organizers are calling for restorative justice practices to address harm in schools as alternatives to school policing. Other groups are piloting partnerships with the health sector to create interventions, outside of current policing models. For example, Communities United is creating an approach in partnership with Chicago’s leading children’s hospital to advance healing strategies specifically targeting youth of color that account for generational trauma and violence. Project NIA is


“Our Vision and Values,” Movement for Family Power website.



promoting alternatives to community-led safety systems by advancing training and education models. For more examples of non-police alternatives to community safety in communities around the country, see Interrupting Criminalization’s “The Demand Is Still #DefundthePolice #FreeThePeople #DefendBlackLives: Lessons from 2020”16 and the website Don’t Call The Police.17 In the child welfare context, the development of abolitionist alternatives is more nascent, but activists are similarly calling for redirecting funds away from the system and into communityled supports for youth and families. Among AFF’s current grantees, many have focused on curtailing the harms and reach of the system. Several groups have pushed for extending the age of access to service supports, like providing flexible housing vouchers and free college tuition, or ending policies which criminalize poverty and are read as indicators of parent neglect or abuse. Grantees have done less work to develop alternatives outside the context of the current system. Yet child welfare abolitionists have called for the state to “give families the support they need, such as cash grants, affordable housing, child care, and food, without the specter of child removal as the backdrop.”18 If properly resourced, community groups would likely be able to make significant strides in their emerging work to design alternatives to the current system, an area that is long overdue for investment. LESSON 10 Clarity on AFF’s role in the evolving philanthropic landscape AFF plays an important and unique role in the broader philanthropic landscape and is positioned to play an even deeper leadership role moving forward.

We have gained clarity on how AFF can maximize its impact within the broader philanthropic landscape, aided by consultant Carrie Rae Boatman’s analysis of funding trends.19 Very few funders support the specific issues we do, the strategies we want to focus on, and the goals we hope to achieve. Yet an influx of new money focused broadly on racial justice creates an exciting opportunity for donor education and organizing. AFF is well-positioned to play a catalytic role in mobilizing more dollars towards youth-led abolitionist work in the coming years.


Ritchie, Andrea J. et al. (2021), “The Demand is Still #DefundThePolice: Lessons from 2020”




Godsoe, Cynthia. “An Abolitionist Horizon for Child Welfare.”


This included analyzing data on over 100 funders with overlapping funding interests; compiling information on funding trends; surveying and talking with peers in philanthropy; and meetings with other stakeholders and movement partners.



Overall, the philanthropic landscape for youth justice and child welfare is sparse. Few funders prioritize youth justice, child welfare, or transition-age youth. Those who do have primarily focused on systems reform, research, and policy advocacy, including several largescale foundation-led initiatives that have dominated the landscape (e.g., the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Robert Wood Johnson’s Reclaiming Futures, MacArthur’s Models for Change, California‘s Positive Youth Justice Initiative.) Many influential funders have exited (or will soon exit) or shifted funding priorities (including MacArthur, Pew Center on the States, and Atlantic Philanthropies, as well as youth organizing funder Hazen Foundation.) Funders rarely use the term “abolition” and even more rarely identify themselves as abolitionists. Examples of those who do include Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Borealis Philanthropy, Third Wave Fund, and local social justice community funds. In addition, despite its transformative potential, youth organizing is grossly underfunded, and organizing led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous, queer, and disabled youth is even more so. Philanthropy provides about $200 million a year to youth organizing broadly, which a Funders’ Collaborative for Youth Organizing report describes as “a drop in the bucket compared to philanthropic support for closely aligned areas such as youth development ($1.8 billion in 2017) or civic engagement ($460 million in 2017).”20 Across issue areas, groups led by Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, and disabled leaders similarly receive woefully little funding. For example, Funders for LGBTQ Issues found that “Black trans and gender-nonconforming people collectively received less than 1% of all funding for LGBTQ issues in 2018.”21 And a report by Echoing Green and Bridgespan Group found that “among organizations focused on improving the outcomes of Black boys, for example, groups with Black leaders had 45 percent less revenue, and unrestricted assets that were 91 percent lower, than their counterparts with white leaders.”22


Shah, Seema for FCYO. 2020. Investing in the Power of Organizing: 20 Years of Philanthropic Support.


Funders for LGBTQ Issues. 2020. Philanthropy OUTlook: LGBTQ Black Communities


Sullivan, Paul. May 2020. In philanthropy, race is still a factor in who gets what LESSONS LEARNED | PAGE 24


Recently, however, there has been new funder interest in resourcing directly impacted leaders, BIPOC leaders, and youth-led work. This is not yet translating to increased resources for the entire field yet, but this interest is happening at the same time that there is an influx of new philanthropic dollars beyond institutional donors (including from High-Net-Worth individuals, tech, and celebrity donors, and a growing number of family foundations and new philanthropy serving organizations focused on young donors). The ground is fertile for educating and mobilizing these new donors. Specifically, AFF can help catalyze increased investment in abolitionist practices by being one of the first national funders to claim abolition as a goal and developing a donor organizing strategy. This would be consistent with AFF’s proud history of working on abolition, as John Andrus was a champion of the child labor abolition movement, and our comfort with being among the first funders to invest in a particular group or strategy. (This “validator” role is something our partners have said they appreciate about our approach.)



2022 STRATEGY REFRESH RECOMMENDED STRATEGY REFRESH Based on all we have learned, we recommend revising our theory of change to meet the challenges and opportunities of the current moment, better align with the focus of our movement partners, and maximize the impact of our resources. To be clear, there is so much AFF is already doing that we recommend sustaining. This strategy refresh builds off of the strongest work of the portfolio and redoubles AFF’s commitment to the core issues and youth that have been our focus. As such, it is a strategic refinement of our work and the next natural step in our evolution.



MISSION The Andrus Family Fund supports the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth impacted by youth justice, child welfare, and other disruptive systems.



• Youth Self-determination and Power

• White supremacy and capitalism drive inequality and perpetuate systems of oppression for Black, Brown and Indigenous youth.

• Intersectional Racial Justice • Courage and Humility • Trusting, Healing Relationships • Innovation & Transformative Impact • Accountability

GOAL Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth build power to advance the abolition of youth justice and child welfare systems and design transformative approaches for creating liberated, safe, just, and thriving communities.


• Youth are hypercriminalized, overincarcerated, and denied safety and human rights. • Youth lack access to services essential to their survival and development. • Youth experience intergenerational trauma and oppression and need healing support. • Youth are systematically excluded from seats of power based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, and documentation status. • Philanthropy grossly underinvests in power-building, organizing and advocacy led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth.

TACTICS • Grantmaking: Provide single and multi-year, general operating support and timely, responsive grants • Capacity Building: Provide direct technical assistance and host convenings based on grantee needs

• Changing Systems: Dismantle harmful policies and practices and dramatically reduce the reach of youth justice and child welfare systems.

• Funder Education and Organizing: Support funder coordination and drive more philanthropic dollars to abolitionist youth organizing

• Creating Transformative Models: Seed innovation of community-led models of youth well-being, safety, and justice.

• Transferring Power: Align AFF’s own practices with goals of shifting power, centering youth who are directly impacted, and being accountable to communities

• Strengthening the Field: Build capacity of abolitionist youth organizing groups and movement infrastructure.

VISION We envision a just society in which Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth are thriving in empowered and supportive communities, free from state violence and family separation.

• Narrative Change: Help grantees build narrative power, and advance deep understanding of the need for, and impact of, abolitionist youth organizing strategies

• Learning for Action: Deepen understanding of how philanthropy can best support abolitionist youth organizing

TARGETS • Small- to mid-sized youth organizing and advocacy groups, networks, coalitions, that: • Are authentically led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth most impacted by youth justice and child welfare systems, including queer, trans, disabled, and undocumented youth • Use an intersectional, abolitionist approach that advances healing, culturally affirming strategies, and radical transformation • Focus on building power • Policy advocacy groups and capacity-building intermediaries that strategically extend the impact of youth organizers



MISSION We recommend revising AFF’s mission to more explicitly state our focus on youth of color, as well as establish a more expansive goal that embraces not just improved outcomes, but also power-building and liberation.



The Andrus Family Fund seeks to foster just and sustainable change in the United States. We support organizations that advance social justice and improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.

The Andrus Family Fund supports the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth impacted by the youth justice, child welfare, and other disruptive systems.

VISION We similarly recommend a more expansive vision statement in which young people have access to healthy and loving families and support systems. In this vision, oppressive pipelines, and systems of harm, including the prison industrial complex, youth justice system, policing, and vehicles of family separation, do not exist. And youth live free of systemic and generational discrimination, criminalization, and other devastating effects of white supremacy, racism, and extractive capitalism.



We envision a just society in which vulnerable youth have more than one opportunity for a good life.

We envision a just society in which Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth are thriving in empowered and supportive communities, free from state violence and family separation.



VALUES Our current Theory of Change identifies four guiding values for our work: engagement, justice, innovation, and impact. We recommend revising these to include: •

Self-Determination & Humility: Directly impacted youth and the organizations that support them are the best leaders of change, and we center them in our work. AFF understands that we are not the experts; our role is to support Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth (including LGBTQIA, disabled and undocumented youth) to take the helm. We must transfer power to communities, build relationships that value their self-determination, and support their financial sustainability—independent of philanthropy, and their ability to mutually support each other.

Courageous Truth-Telling: With power comes responsibility, and we leverage our power for good by speaking out, advocating, and pushing for the change our partners seek. We also commit to supporting leaders and organizations with protection and care as they do the work of telling the truth, despite facing digital and physical security threats for doing so.

People-Centered, Trusting, Healing Relationships: AFF actively addresses white supremacy and the legacy of oppression, embedded in systems, that communities face. We focus on repair and healing justice in the work we support; prioritize people development, authentic relationships, and sustained partnerships; and commit to building cultures of care and inclusivity with and for movements and organizations. This requires that we trust our partners and work hard to earn their trust.

Accountability: AFF prioritizes holding itself accountable to movements and communities, and takes seriously the process of changing ourselves to change and heal the world. As funders with access to resources and privilege, we acknowledge the urgent need for change and recognize we may not feel the direct impacts of this urgency in the ways our partners do. We commit to removing barriers to funding and superfluous grantmaking processes that burden grantees and draw them away from the critical work they do.




Transformative Impact: AFF supports our partners in their quest to abolish harmful public systems and policies as part of a broader long-term change strategy. We understand that philanthropy itself—and who holds and directs the flow of wealth and resources—also must be transformed, as hoarding wealth and power along racial lines will never create thriving communities for all.

Innovation: An essential North Star for abolition is the construction of the new. Partners focused on abolishing disruptive systems require investment and support as they design and test new models for promoting justice, healing, and wellness for young people. Investing in innovation requires ample time and resources, and a recognition that even experiments that do not “succeed” in the traditional sense can offer lessons to propel the work forward.



PROBLEM STATEMENT AFF builds strategies to address the multiple barriers to opportunity, healing, and success facing youth impacted by the youth justice and child welfare systems, including the following: •

White supremacy and capitalism are the driving causes of social, material, and political inequality that privileges profit over people, perpetuating systems of oppression and exclusion of Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth and communities.

Youth and their communities: are hyper criminalized, over incarcerated, and denied safety and basic human rights. are systematically excluded based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and documentation status. Systems are designed to keep young people out of seats of power, decision-making, and influence across generations. lack access to services essential to their survival and development, such as housing, education, healthcare, healing, food, and economic opportunity experience intergenerational trauma and historical oppression, and youth often are not supported to gain and wield power in ways that account for their healing and holistic development.

Community organizing and advocacy groups led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth receive woefully little philanthropic support.



GOALS AFF builds strategies to address the multiple barriers to opportunity, healing, and success facing youth impacted by the youth justice and child welfare systems, including the following:

OVERARCHING 5-YEAR GOAL Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth build power to advance the abolition of youth justice and child welfare systems and design transformative approaches for creating liberated, safe, just, and thriving communities.

INTERMEDIATE GOALS AFF will support groups to advance the following intermediate goals: •

Dismantle harmful policies and practices and dramatically reduce the reach of youth justice and child welfare systems. To determine the policy priorities AFF will support, we will focus on those that advance systems transformation and further the longerterm goal of abolition. Critical Resistance provides helpful rubrics for evaluating policies relating to pretrial detention23 and incarceration24 to determine whether they are “abolitionist” or “reformist.” According to Critical Resistance, abolitionist reforms reduce the number of people subjected to incarceration and surveillance; challenge the size, scope, resources, and funding of the system; weaken the system’s power to control or surveil; reduce the reach of the system in our everyday lives; create alternative resources that are accessible without system contact; and strengthen capacity to prevent or address harm and create processes for community accountability.


Critical Resistance and Community Justice Exchange (June 2021), On the Road to Freedom: An Abolitionist Assessment of Pretrial and Bail Reforms.


Critical Resistance (2021). Reformist reforms vs. abolitionist steps to end IMPRISONMENT.



INTERMEDIATE GOALS CONT. Under this goal, we will narrow the type of policy efforts we fund and continue funding work that is “abolitionist” in nature. Examples of abolitionist work we currently support include invest/divest campaigns focused on school policing and youth incarceration. •

Seed innovation of new models of youth well-being, safety, and justice, led by the communities most impacted by criminalization, incarceration, and family separation. AFF will make grants to organizations to try, test, experiment, and carve out a path toward a future we do not yet know. Support will be flexible, nimble, longterm and promote a culture of learning that allows for experimentation towards transformative change and imagining how we support youth, families, and communities in a post-current-system society. AFF will fund innovations that also advance systems change, understanding the need to be pragmatic given present conditions and systems. Under this goal, we envision resourcing: community-led and designed alternatives to safety, emergency response, collective care and healing systems; research and data to make the case for diverting dollars to community-led interventions; promotion of narratives and strategic communications to support innovative futures and a public will to orient to them; and resourcing experiments grounded in visioning and piloting of innovative future-facing models. Some grantees are already engaged in this work. For example, SOUL Sisters Leadership Collective has developed diversion programs that keep young women and gender nonconforming youth with felonies out of the system. Communities United is developing a collaboration with a large local hospital to advance community-based alternatives that promote safety and healing.

Build capacity of abolitionist youth organizing groups, strengthen movement infrastructure, and create pipelines to support the leadership of Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth most directly impacted by harmful systems. Under this goal, AFF will continue to fund endeavors to develop leaders, support the capacity of organizations and build out interconnected and supportive fields. We will focus the support we provide through our S.O.A.R. program to meet the most pressing needs of youth-led organizing and advocacy groups we support, focusing on building up their internal capacity as well as the broader field’s capacity to advance abolition. As always, we will design supports to directly respond to the needs our core grantees identify.



2022 STRATEGY REFRESH IMPLICATIONS FOR AFF’S WORK Adopting this new mission, vision, and goals has implications for all aspects of AFF’s work. As we shift toward a more explicit focus on power-building, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s (NCRP) toolkit for philanthropy, Power Moves, serves as a helpful guide.25 NCRP identifies three dimensions of power, which represent “the highest aspiration for grantmaking that advances equity and justice:” building power, sharing power, and wielding power.


National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (May 2018). POWER MOVES: Your essential philanthropy assessment guide for equity and justice.



IMPLICATIONS FOR AFF‘S WORK Dimensions of Power in Grantmaking from NCRP’s Power Moves BUILDING POWER

“Supporting systemic change by funding civic engagement, advocacy and community organizing among marginalized communities”


“Nurturing transparent, trusting relationships and co-creating strategies with stakeholders”


“Exercising public leadership beyond grantmaking to create equitable, catalytic change”

We aim to incorporate all three dimensions of power in our revised strategy. Although staff will develop a more fulsome implementation plan in the coming months, we share below the implications for AFF’s work from adopting a focus on power, reflected in our new mission, vision, and goal.

GRANTMAKING We will focus on building an ecosystem that advances an abolitionist vision. AFF will support and strengthen youth power by resourcing youth leaders, organizations, and initiatives that advance the leadership and community organizing acumen of directly impacted BIPOC youth. AFF will build youth-led community organizing; fund intergenerational organizing with an authentic and express commitment to youth organizing as a strategy; and resource organizations that prioritize base-building as well as youth-led policy change at the local, state, and federal level. We already fund many groups that fit these criteria, including for example Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, Young Women’s Freedom Center, Dream Defenders, Southwest Organizing Project, SOUL Sisters Leadership Collective, Foster Youth in Action, and Movement for Family Power. In addition, we will make strategic grants to anchor policy advocacy and capacity-building intermediaries that extend the impact of youth organizers, such as current grantee Center for Law and Social Policy, whose New Deal for Youth supports youth to advocate for federal policies to resource young people bouncing back from incarceration, the pandemic, and underinvestment.





GRANTMAKING CONT. This new strategy means we will: •

Adopt new grantmaking criteria. AFF will support youth leaders, small to midsize organizations, networks, coalitions, and initiatives that: y Serve Black, Brown, and Indigenous young people impacted by the foster care and youth justice system and the intersectional issues impacting them (immigration, gender justice, disability justice) y Are led by directly impacted Black, Brown, Indigenous community members who are committed to building youth power in its multiple forms and advancing change to systems, policies, culture, and narratives y Prioritize community organizing, policy/advocacy, healing, and culturally affirming strategies y Are committed to building a broad intersectional, impactful, racial justice movement that not only works collaboratively but is also accountable to the communities they serve/work within y Are building a holistic ecosystem, pushing for systemic change, or creating new alternative systems and approaches

Bolster our Youth Justice Transformation work, which is among the strongest work on the portfolio. This includes continuing to support campaigns to remove police from school campuses and campaigns to close youth prisons and reinvest in communities, or resourcing more work on justice transformation in Native communities.

Shift the focus of our Child Welfare funding towards abolition. Thus far, our child welfare funding focused on improving current systems, rather than radically transforming current child welfare practices. Unlike youth justice, there is less of an established body of community organizing work that advances abolition in the child welfare space, so our funding in this area will be more exploratory. We aim to catalyze support for such work by being among the few national funders to resource youth/intergenerational organizing aimed at child welfare abolition. This will require further learning and efforts in field building as few groups are being funded for this work currently.

Stay nimble and flexible. While youth organizing will be our central focus, we will explore support for other power-building strategies, like civic engagement.



GRANTMAKING CONT. We will also align how we fund with our goals of power building and power shifting. This includes: •

Flexible, robust, multi-year support. We will provide our core grantees primarily with multiyear, general operating support at larger amounts than our typical grant awards have been.

Dedicated funds for opportunity grants. We will dedicate a certain percent of the budget each year to meet rapid response needs or other timely opportunities that emerge in the field.

Funding for success. Groups need steady, robust funding over time. Often philanthropy keeps small groups small by providing only modest-size grants. We will expand the size of our funding to those groups who need it the most.

Responsible tie-off grants. We know that some current grantees will not meet our new criteria. We are committed to responsibly winding down our funding to these groups, including direct services organizations and workforce development grantees with a one-year transition grant.

Reducing burden on grantees of applying and reporting. When the pandemic began, we made several changes to our reporting process, including suspending reporting requirements; offering the option to submit reports over the phone or via Zoom recording; and waiving reports altogether when AFF staff have been able to participate in partnerhosted events that provide progress on outcomes. As we move forward, we will continue to look for ways to streamline proposal and reporting processes to remove burden on grantees. Groups fighting for abolition face steep obstacles to their work to disrupt the status quo, as well as security threats from opponents. They also need time for healing and self-care. Asking them to jump through hoops to get critically needed resources is disruptive and counterproductive.

Engaging partners more deeply. Enhance AFF Board partnership with MPAC and deepen grantee participation and community-building to inform grantmaking strategy.



CAPACITY BUILDING We have heard feedback that partners rely on Andrus for support with capacity building and we intend to deepen the supports we provide, aligning them with the focus of our new strategy. This includes: •

Continuing to support intermediaries that are providing important capacity building and networking for our grantees

Continuing to develop our technical assistance and capacity building strategies (S.O.A.R.) responsive to needs groups identify

Convening grantees to provide spaces for education, mobilization, strategizing, and transformation, especially around difficult topics like abolition

Connecting grassroots groups to national policy groups

Supporting individual leaders and collective bodies of leadership

Capacity building and technical assistance in the areas of narrative and strategic communications

Resourcing healing, rest, sabbaticals, and rejuvenation, and mutual aid efforts

Supporting movement partners to better navigate philanthropy and to strengthen and diversify their fundraising


Robinson, Rashad. “Changing Our Narrative About Narrative: The Infrastructure Required for Building Narrative Power.” Nonprofit Quarterly. (January 30, 2019).



FUNDER EDUCATION AND ORGANIZING We plan to strengthen our role as a donor organizer and mobilizer and will develop a strategy to increase support for Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth-led organizing focused on the abolition of youth justice and child welfare systems. The strategy will include: •

Partnering with accountable, values-aligned racial and social justice funders and organizations and supporting their education about our approach and partners

Partnering with resource holders interested in transferring power to communities and supporting youth empowerment

Elevating our Fund’s voice in philanthropic spaces to attract more funding to the work we support and help funders adopt more accountable philanthropic practices and discontinue harmful funding practices

NARRATIVE CHANGE We will help grantees build “narrative power” and advance deep understanding of the need for, and impact of, abolitionist youth organizing strategies. Rashad Robinson of Color of Change defines “narrative power” as “the ability to change the norms and rules our society lives by.” To create this power, we need “narrative infrastructure,” or the set of systems we maintain in order to do that reliably over time.”27 We will also commission research and narrative change strategies that support the development of a well-resourced, sustainable field and diversify organizations' the access to revenue sources organizations have to support their independence from philanthropy.



TRANSFERRING POWER AND STAYING ACCOUNTABLE We will better align AFF’s own practices with the goals of shifting power, centering youth who are directly impacted by disruptive systems, and being accountable to communities we serve. Grantees and other partners have appreciated the care with which we build partnerships and have called on us to take an even more expansive role in modeling power-sharing and participatory practices in philanthropy.

We will develop strategies that: •

Expand the power of directly impacted youth and communities in AFF’s decision-making and governance processes

Build accountable practices and systems internally in our fund, with philanthropy, and with our movement partners, including continuing the Movement Partner Advisory Council, ensuring programs are informed and responsive to the needs of grantee partners, etc.



2022 STRATEGY REFRESH LEARNING FOR ACTION AFF has been committed to learning alongside our partners and taking those lessons to heart as we continue to refine our strategies and goals. We have preliminary identified the following learning question and four levels of outcomes around which to build a learning agenda.



LEARNING FOR ACTION Overarching Learning Question How can funders best support abolitionist youth organizing, led by the communities most impacted by child welfare and youth justice systems? Outcomes LEVEL 1

What difference are grantees making in the world?


What difference are AFF’s funding and support having on groups in terms of organizational development and capacity building?

How is AFF’s support impacting the field of youth organizing groups in the youth justice and child welfare fields and to what extent are groups building power? How effective has AFF been in educating and mobilizing philanthropy to support abolitionist youth organizing work?

During the implementation phase, we will convene and work with grantee partners to identify meaningful metrics and indicators for the outcomes. We believe a co-creation process is critical to our power-building approach. Not only will it help AFF better understand and learn from our work, but it can also help grantees in their own learning process.



PLANNING FOR IMPLEMENTATION The recommended strategy refresh sets the parameters for the work that lies ahead. In the next phase of the work, staff will need to flesh out more specifics on how to put this strategy in practice. As next steps, staff will answer the following questions: 1. Grantmaking: y To what extent should AFF maintain an explicit focus on transition-age youth (ages 16-24)? y How should considerations around geography impact grantmaking decisions? y Should staff identify a set of policy goals within youth justice and child welfare that are “abolitionist reforms” around which grantmaking should focus, or leave greater flexibility in funding of policy goals that are broadly abolitionist? y What does responsible wind-down of current grantees who no longer align with this framework entail?

2. Participatory Processes: y How can AFF implement more participatory processes across our functions? What does this new refresh mean for the role of the MPAC moving forward? y What process can we develop to engage grantee partners in developing metrics and indicators?

3. Capacity-building: y What do groups who align with the strategy refresh goals and strategies need most? How can SOAR meet these goals?

4. Funder Education and Organizing y Who are the philanthropic targets that we believe we can “move” and how can we begin engaging them in our revised strategic framework? y What are the opportunities in the next year to serve as a thought leader in philanthropy on these issues/strategies?



Theory of Change Mission:

Theory of Change: TOC Goals:

Approved 5/18/2014 at 12:35pm

• Serving youth 16-24 leaving/impacted by foster care and juvenile justice systems

2. Vulnerable youth and their communities inform and help change policies that affect them.


Focusing on direct service and advocacy that advances economic mobility of vulnerable youth

Youth leaving foster care and juvenile justice systems have access to programs and conditions to obtain a living wage and contribute to a healthy economy.

3. Policies that affect vulnerable youth promote their well-being and that of their communities.


Focusing on advocacy and policy change in systems affecting vulnerable youth

Small to mid-size organizations:



Single and multi-year grant making for: a. Culturally relevant and effective direct service programs b. Community organizing and advocacy c. General operating support d. Capacity building in discrete areas based on needs assessment

3. Partnering: a. With innovative foundations that share AFF values b. In community building efforts aimed at social justice

2. Field-building by: a. Convening b. Providing technical assistance


The Andrus Family Fund seeks to foster just and sustainable change in the United States. We support organizations that advance social justice and improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.

Guiding Values Engagement Justice Innovation Impact

Needs / Barriers: 1. Vulnerable youth lack voice in systems that affect them. 2. Systems impacting vulnerable youth and their communities are unjust and inequitable. 3. Vulnerable youth lack effective services and economic mobility. 4. Small-to-mid-size organizations serving vulnerable youth need flexible support. 5. Community organizing, advocacy and systems change are underfunded.

We envision a just society in which all youth have equal opportunity and equal voice.