Marguerite Casey Foundation Celebrating 10 Years of Supporting Families Leading Change. Special thanks to our Staff Luz Vega-Marquis President & CEO Herb Williams Executive Assistant to the President & CEO/ Board of Directors Liaison Kathleen Baca Peter Bloch Garcia Rich Boswell James Carlton Ericka Cox Jennifer Gianni-Haubry Natalie Holmes Sunny Hong Alice Ito Suphatra Laviolette Cheryl Milloy Kathy Mulady Piilani Pang Cynthia Renfro Kathleen Roe Stephen Sage Nathan Sorseth Karen Urlie Vanessa Ushio
Director of Communications Program Officer Administrative Assistant Program Officer Program Officer Finance Manager Researcher Administrative Assistant Program Officer Administrative Specialist Evaluation & Research Officer Reporter Office Manager Director of Programs & Evaluation Grants Administrator Chief Financial Officer Human Resources Assistant Administrative Specialist Graphic Designer & Web Manager
Writer - Claudia Rowe Designers - Amie Baker & Vanessa Ushio Editor - Cathy Johnson Photographers - Mike Kane, Miami Worker Center, PICO, TARGET & Border Action Network
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
A letter from our President & CEO
As we celebrate the foundation’s 10-year anniversary, we pause to reflect on our beginning, and on our journey toward supporting a family-led movement. Marguerite Casey Foundation was founded to prevent children from entering foster care. We first had to determine how to accomplish that goal. Starting out, we did the typical things foundations do: We conducted research, consulted practitioners in the nonprofit field, and collected data to determine how best to proceed. What quickly became apparent was that foster care was a symptom of a much larger issue – families living in poverty. Our board of directors set the direction for the foundation by understanding that the well-being of a child is inextricably tied to the socioeconomic prosperity of the child’s family. Our approach has been to “ask, listen, and act.” Even our mission – nurturing a movement of low-income families advocating in their own behalf – came from a proposal we received after asking practitioners, “How should we spend this money?” But, we didn’t ask just policy experts and opinion leaders; we wanted input from the families that would be directly affected by our grantmaking. We did not believe families could be exclusively “serviced” out of poverty. Our job, we felt, was to support families in being the architects of change that would bring about a just and equitable society for all. So, we held listening circles, and the families told us exactly which issues were important to them. With the foundation located in the Northwest, that was especially important. If we were to fund groups in rural Mississippi or urban Chicago, how else would we know what was happening in the communities unless we asked the groups and their constituents and listened to their responses? For Marguerite Casey Foundation to be successful in elevating the voices of families, we knew the families themselves would have to define the issues. That became our guiding philosophy. Families know best how to solve their problems, and our job is to listen to them. That, to me, is the most important distinction about Marguerite Casey Foundation – a deep belief in seeing families as the creators of solutions to their own problems. We focused on states with the highest concentrations of poverty. We selected grantees that were cornerstone organizations working within communities and that train community members to become leaders, advocates and organizers for change in public policy.
And, most important, we asked that grantees work across issues, regions, ethnicities and egos in support of families. Movement building for the foundation meant uniting diverse communities through their common goal of changing policies that create barriers to equality. It meant leading with families. But a definition alone wasn’t enough. What would a 21st-century movement actually look like? Can there be a movement without a single issue or one leader? In 2007, our grantees challenged us to take a risk – not an easy thing for foundations to do. They asked us to support a national campaign that would mobilize families to create a national family platform. The first of 65 Equal Voice for America’s Families townhall meetings was held that winter at the Monroe Correctional Facility in Washington state. In the course of a year, approximately 30,000 families were mobilized by our grantees and other grassroots organizations. The families and organizations that attended the Equal Voice townhalls and the subsequent national conventions were united – driven not by a single issue, but by the desire for a broad-based, inclusive movement. Families spent months discussing their concerns, creating a national family platform, and outlining what they would do to foster change that would benefit all families. Tens of thousands of people participated, uniting around a shared vision for our country. Through Equal Voice, families demonstrated the power of coming together to advance a common agenda that was not single-issue or led by one person or organization. The Equal Voice campaign established movement building as a viable grantmaking strategy. The Equal Voice road, 10 years in the making, has been paved by many. We’d like to thank all of the Marguerite Casey Foundation grantees, our greatest allies, whose belief in us and our vision has made this work possible. Most of all, we thank America’s families, whose acts of courage and tenacity – raising children, working tirelessly, and advocating for change despite hardship and obstacles – bring so much meaning to our work. What we have achieved in only 10 years shows me that change is truly possible. And that there is much more to be done. Sincerely,
Luz Vega-Marquis President & CEO, Marguerite Casey Foundation
Remembering Marguerite Casey Marguerite Casey was born in Seattle, Washington, on September 5, 1900, and was the only daughter and youngest child of Henry J. and Annie E. Casey. Like her brother Jim, the founder of United Parcel Service, Marguerite profoundly believed in the importance of family, leading her to spend much of her adult life creating opportunities to help families and communities succeed and thrive. In 1948, Marguerite and her three brothers established the Annie E. Casey Foundation to honor their mother’s legacy by encouraging public policies, human service reforms and community support to meet the needs of vulnerable children, youth and families. Over time, the family’s aspiration to serve children, youth and families grew until almost two decades later, in 1966, Jim Casey’s interest in long-term foster care led him to establish Casey Family Programs in the family’s home town of Seattle. Sharing her brother’s passion and vision for improving the foster care system, Marguerite served as a board member for Casey Family Programs from 1966 to 1971. She was also a loyal benefactress of Seattle University and is fondly remembered for contributing a Christmas tree each year to Waterfall Garden for Seattle citizens to enjoy. Marguerite Casey’s lifelong generosity made a tremendous difference for thousands of families and children across the United States, and her giving spirit continues to shine today. Marguerite Casey Foundation was officially founded by Casey Family Programs in October of 2001 to help expand its outreach and further enhance its more than 30-year record of leadership in child welfare. Through the foundation’s work, the memory of Marguerite Casey endures and will continue to serve future generations.
Marguerite Caseyâ€™s lifelong generosity made a tremendous difference for thousands of families and children across the United States, and her giving spirit continues to shine today.
Marguerite Casey Foundation exists to help low-income families strengthen their voice and mobilize their communities in order to achieve a more just and equitable society for all.
We imagine a just and equitable society for all, where all children are nurtured to become compassionate, responsible and self-reliant adults; where families are engaged in the life of their communities, the nation and the world, and where people take responsibility for meeting todayâ€™s needs as well as those of future generations.
Our Theory of Change Key drivers of change will facilitate...
Greater organized self-advocacy and activism by working poor families with the skills, knowledge, access and support networks to be effective in reforming public policy. Cornerstone Organizations • Well-established in target communities • Effective in training parents/ youth as leaders, advocates and/or organizers • Successful in helping Highly Engaged Base families achieve policy of Constituents change • Skilled leaders – parents
and youth – from lowincome neighborhoods and communities of color • Self-interest and education in community issues Network of Networks • Sustained connections between constituencies and organizations across Cross-Systems regions and issue areas Change Efforts • Collective capacity for Successful policy reforms driven regional and national by working poor families using: movement building • Facts based on action research • Strategic framing of issues • Institutional relationships
• A substantial, growing, engaged constituent base made up of working poor families and natural allies who share their interests
• Supported by strong, sustainable
community-based organizations that are linked with each other regionally and crossregionally and across disciplinary, ethnic and ideological boundaries
• Benefiting from a sophisticated
communications effort that uses strategic framing to shape media images of families’ issues and to ensure consistency of message across all participants
• Informed by excellent data and analysis as well as candid feedback from evaluation efforts
• Understanding the needs and desires of
different races and cultures while bringing a multicultural perspective to reform efforts
• Capable of responding quickly and
decisively to opportunities as they arise via the collective capacity of a nimble, “21st Century” coordination structure that effectively uses technology
• Constantly renewing itself by identifying,
training and promoting new leaders within its ranks
̏ ducating families to E A special , “thanks” to our have a real voice in their Board Members who are communities became a focus instrumental in keeping our of the foundation’s model.ˮ vision focused. -Freeman A. Hrabowski III
Freeman A. Hrabowski III, chairman Board member since 2001
When this all started, the board’s first major responsibility was to identify a leader who could help bring together our varied perspectives and establish a vision for the foundation. We were very fortunate to find Luz Vega-Marquis. She’d had great experience working with children and families, knew the foundation world and brought to this work excellent thinking skills and deep compassion. She was clearly destined to lead Marguerite Casey Foundation. So, we were off to a great start! Beginning from the premise that we didn’t have all the answers, the foundation came up with the theme of “asking and listening.” We needed to listen with an open mind to the voices of the people we were interested in working with and supporting. We looked at the good, the bad and the ugly in communities – the ways children are and are not supported. In that process, what came through was the strength of these families. Yes, we were giving people support, but we recognized that their visions and perspectives were, frankly, the most valuable expertise we could find. We found that people knew what they needed – they simply required support to move in the right direction. That’s what is remarkably different about this foundation: We see the people we serve as our experts. Still, we needed to carve out a niche for ourselves. So, educating families to have a real voice in their communities became a focus of the foundation’s model. Luz’s vision for Equal Voice – bringing together thousands of families across the country – embodied that. We had been having some success at the local level, but now we were talking about connecting people across geography and supporting collaborations across races and ethnicities. It was a vision that was hard to actually imagine – even from a logistical point of view. Dr. Hrabowski graduated at 19 from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. By age 24, he had earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration and statistics, and since 1992, he has served as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In 2008, Dr. Hrabowski was on President Obama’s short list for secretary of education and named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report.
But we were intrigued by the approach and willing to see what was possible. As we watched staff members talking with families, listening and taking action, it became clear that Luz’s vision had a great deal of merit. The participation and voices of families have made the real difference. We now have numerous examples of public policy changes across the country, shifting attitudes, stronger organizations and emerging community leaders. It’s a remarkable transformation. The foundation’s work has changed my approach to my own work. For years at the university, my staff and I had worked with young men, mostly black and Latino, who were first-time offenders. But Marguerite Casey Foundation got us to look beyond the child to their families, to involving the mothers and grandmothers to make a difference in the public policies affecting their boys. That came directly from the foundation’s influence – and I’d written two books on parenting! Looking forward, we envision having an increasingly important impact on federal, state and local policies that affect working-class families – from addressing policies that prevent exoffenders from finding employment, to issues around voter registration and challenges around educating children of color. Clearly, we are making progress.
̏The growth of Border Action Network was supercharged when the group joined with Marguerite Casey Foundation in 2005.˝
Photo by Border Action Network
Border Action Network As the debate over America’s immigration policy boils over into increasingly divisive rhetoric – not to mention some highly controversial legislation – few states have attracted as much attention as Arizona. Jennifer Allen and the staff at Border Action Network in Tucson have answered this not by shrinking away, but rather, by addressing the climate of violence head-on. In the process, they have evolved from a small, all-volunteer group to one with powerful alliances and some 4,000 active supporters across the state. The growth of Border Action Network, which was supercharged when the group joined with Marguerite Casey Foundation in 2005, goes far beyond numbers on a ledger sheet. In recent years, Border Action has helped kill more than 35 bills in the Arizona Legislature aimed at denying basic rights to immigrant families.
Border Action Network has also invested in improved communications – going beyond Facebook and Twitter to engage supporters through DemocracyInAction, a nonprofit that helps users circulate electronic petitions, send word to their elected legislators and draft letters to the local newspaper. To include non–English speakers, Border Action also puts out its own Spanish-language newspaper three times a year. “When we first started out, we only had the capacity to organize protests,” Allen said. “That has shifted.” Today, she notes, seven of Border Action’s recommendations on immigration policy are now routinely included in immigration reform legislation. General support has enabled Border Action to grow on multiple fronts at once – essential, Allen believes, to the group’s broad success in affecting public policy. Last year, that work culminated in the formation of One Arizona, a coalition of labor, faith and community groups dedicated to improving Latino voter participation rates.
For small nonprofits like Border Action Network, which rarely have enough money to think beyond the next grant proposal, the tendency is to plan incrementally, which means never having time to devise a broader strategy. But with the support of Marguerite Casey Foundation, Border Action could afford to “think larger” about ways to mobilize and educate residents, and the reach of the group expanded dramatically. “Rather than being effective administrators,” Allen said, “we’ve been able to be more effective community organizers.” In the past three years, Border Action has hired experts in policy, organizing and management to spearhead research and present data to lawmakers voting on immigration policy. The staff has seeded 12 new chapters across the state and trained 125 volunteer organizers from Tucson to Prescott. Before Marguerite Casey Foundation offered general support, the organization couldn’t afford the transportation costs for such statewide work.
Looking back on her 16 years as executive director, Allen chuckles at the memory of Border Action volunteers knocking on doors and hoping for the best in the organization’s early days. These days, the staff funnels data into spreadsheets and crunches numbers to target efforts.
“Even though the bad reputation – and reality – in Arizona seems more prominent, the resistance to it has also grown,” she said, pointing out the 60,000 email messages, phone calls and petition signatures that flooded the in-boxes of state legislators last year. Allen sees that community voice as key to several draconian anti-immigrant bills never getting past the legislative floor. “As the anti-immigrant climate in Arizona has increased, we’ve been able to match it.”
Patricia Schroeder, vice-chair Board member since 2001
I was familiar with Casey Family Programs, so when I heard that Marguerite Casey Foundation was to be a spinoff, at first I thought the foundation was going to work solely on foster care issues. But we went in a very different direction. Luz Vega-Marquis believed the foundation’s grantmaking should support families in distress – to help those families remain intact. She pointed out that this was povertyrelated, but no one was really talking about that. No one was addressing how you empower people who are so busy trying to keep their families together that they barely have time to sit down with their children. The wonderful thing about Luz was that she never had a problem with “the vision thing,” as the first President Bush used to say. Most grantmaking organizations tell the recipients, “This is how it’s going to go.” We have a CEO who says, “We’re going to bring all these people together and listen to them tell us what they need.” Listening – rather than just acting and hoping you did the right thing – is such an important part of the foundation’s approach. So the vision started with the idea of preventing the need for foster care. Then, we started listening to community members, who said what we really need to do is empower people – from the bottom up instead of the top down, which is, I think, innovative and absolutely right. Folks get tired of people coming in and saying, “We know what you need.”
Ms. Schroeder represented the Denver area in the U.S. Congress for 24 years before retiring in 1996. The second-youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Ms. Schroeder was known for balancing her congressional work with motherhood – even bringing diapers to the floor of the House of Representatives. After leaving government service, she served for 11 years as chief executive officer of the Association of American Publishers. Ms. Schroeder is the author of two books: Champion of the Great American Family and 24 Years of House Work... and the Place Is Still a Mess.
The issues of concern to people struggling to become middle class, no matter their race or location, are similar. What is unique about Luz’s vision is her push to get all these groups – black, brown, Asian, Indian, rural, urban – to understand that they should be fighting on the same side and not fighting each other. We’ve been taught that, in this country, if the issue is fair and just and if you present it correctly, you will be heard. But, today, government is more like a coin-operated legislative machine: Policymakers are on the phone 24/7, trying to raise money for their reelection campaigns, and if you don’t have it, they’re not going to listen to you. The Tea Party movement, though I don’t agree with its ideas, does show that if citizens get out there and make a lot of noise, they can push people into action. So the more we can show low-income communities the benefits of working together, the better. That was the amazing power of Luz’s vision for Equal Voice. People said, “You’re going to have people coming up with their own agenda, linked together by satellite?” I remember one woman telling me that it was totally nuts. But it worked! We had this phenomenal turnout. People must come together and insist that their voices be heard.
̏Listening – rather than just acting and hoping you did the right thing – is such an important part of the foundation’s approach.ˮ - Patricia Schroeder
̏Collaboration is essential to the foundation’s mission of mobilizing communities to advocate for themselves.ˮ - David Villa
David Villa, treasurer Board member since 2008
I joined Marguerite Casey Foundation knowing that the foundation was trying to “eliminate poverty” in this country. But I’ve come to understand that the objective, really, is to eliminate poverty by giving a voice to the poor, which is something very different. Lifting the voices of low-income communities means supporting organizations that are part of a collaborative effort and looking for leaders at the grassroots level. Collaboration is essential to the foundation’s mission of mobilizing communities to advocate for themselves. To combat childhood asthma, for example, grassroots organizations that address air pollution, economic development and community health can work with city and state policymakers to bring about change. Consider this: Twenty percent of all tax returns are for people making $25,000 or less in annual income, and these people are only paying about 1 percent of America’s total tax revenues. It’s hard for me to conceive of a family of four living on $20,000. But if you’re only paying 1 percent, you need an Equal Voice to be able to make a difference. I tend to think of poverty from the standpoint of, how do you get out of it? I had parents that came from very modest means, and they escaped poverty through education. But my work with the foundation has made me much more focused on why people are in poverty – and that’s been the reeducation of David Villa.
As chief investment officer for the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Mr. Villa oversees the ninth largest state pension plan in the country, with assets totaling $87 billion. Previously, he worked for the state of Florida in a similar capacity. Mr. Villa began his financial career in 1979 with Arthur Andersen LLP and later served as executive director at UBS Global Asset Management/Brinson Partners, an international leader in creating and managing institutional investment portfolios.
So I brought a worldview of finance, and in return, the foundation has educated me on the broad issues of poverty and movement building. This focus on movement building and grassroots leadership has really focused the energy of the foundation, which punches way above its weight. The surprise in all of this is that collaboration across grassroots organizations works. It’s a very slow process – I sense it’s going to take 10 or 20 years to build to its full potential – but I can see it happening. You can see the difference in the organizations, in their leadership and in their increasing political influence, even if that’s still small. So I really look forward to the evolution of Equal Voice, nurturing it while staying out of the way of the individuals who really own the movement.
Ě?Marguerite Casey allowed us to be nimble. We could look at these conditions, respond quickly and build a regional movement around displacement.Ë?
Photo by Miami Workers Center
Miami Workers Center Once, winning a battle for welfare recipients in Florida and pushing for new laws that could aid thousands of unemployed people would have been major coups for the Miami Workers Center. But after seven years as a Marguerite Casey Foundation grantee, the storefront group with roots in housing advocacy has watched its impact explode across the country. That journey began in 2004, when the building boom that would reshape much of Florida was beginning to gather steam. Gihan Perera, co-founder and executive director of the Workers Center, saw hundreds of low-income families displaced as their old neighborhoods became gentrified – though few were using that term at the time. “It was an academic term, not a household word, but we saw what was happening – the cranes everywhere, the condos going up – and, with support from Marguerite Casey, we were able to get ahead of the curve to call it what it was,” Perera says.
groups throughout the state, going far beyond standard email blasts and Web management. He has hired organizational consultants and leadership trainers to ensure that when issues arise – be it access to green jobs, housing or political power – the Workers Center has staff ready to mobilize community members. Now, as millions across the country are suffering in the biggest real estate meltdown of our nation’s history, Miami Workers Center works not only locally but nationally, spearheading an alliance known as Right to the City that includes 30 grassroots groups, legal service providers, academics and policy experts seeking alternatives to the displacement of urban low-income communities. “We understood that what we were finding in Miami was not unique,” Perera said. “It was in Chicago and Boston, New York, Los Angeles. We had the flexibility to jump scale and go from being a local movement to uniting with other cities across the country.”
First, the Workers Center reached out to other city neighborhoods being affected by gentrification and then worked across the state, uniting community groups and social service providers to fight alongside families for preservation of their neighborhoods. The result: A series of investigative pieces in The Miami Herald that led to a groundbreaking agreement with Miami-Dade County, one of the few counties in the nation that have agreed to replace each demolished home with an equally affordable residence in the same area.
In 2009, spurred by the political shifts associated with Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, the Workers Center was again inspired to think big. “We saw this huge momentum, with so many young people getting politically involved, and we wanted to figure out how the social justice sector could capture that energy and take it deeper,” Perera said.
“Usually, you can’t do something like this because you’re so committed to your existing programming, but Marguerite Casey allowed us to be nimble,” Perera says. “We could look at these conditions, respond quickly and build a regional movement around displacement.” Action like that does not occur in a vacuum. To move effectively, the Workers Center needed to build its capacity through better communications and leadership development. It needed rigor in its approach to finances and administration – all the things that provide a backbone to successful organizing. With $1,020,000 in general support grants from Marguerite Casey Foundation over the last seven years, Perera has hired a four-person communication team that supports social justice
Co-Founder & Executive Director
To do so, Miami Workers Center partnered with Florida Immigrant Coalition to create an entirely new organization – Florida New Majority – aimed at uniting Latino, AfricanAmerican and new-immigrant communities in a single voting base, one strong enough to affect elections statewide. Last year, New Majority workers knocked on 100,000 doors to educate people about the importance of participating in the U.S. Census. And during midterm elections, the organization mobilized thousands of so-called drop-off voters who had become disenchanted. Their presence at the polls increased 14 percent over 2008. “We’ve gone from a neighborhood organization to a regional movement, and from a regional movement to a national alliance,” Perera says. “Now we’re creating a statewide organization that does powerful electoral work. So not only have we birthed these new alliances, we’ve transformed the Workers Center itself.”
Douglas Patiño, secretary Board member since 2001
There were several important pieces in developing the mission and vision for Marguerite Casey Foundation. One was to have a seasoned president with a commitment to low-income families and to working across races. That was critical to me. We all see the world through the lens of our own eyes – where we’ve lived, how we’ve lived, what we’ve seen – and if you’re going to serve low-income families in today’s America, then you need to understand those populations. Another was that the foundation’s focus had to be at the local level, in neighborhoods, and its commitment had to be for the long haul. Many of us in philanthropy have gone into communities with money and prescriptions for change, but when the programs are over and the money is gone, we wonder why there is no sense of ownership within the community. A visit to Mississippi really impressed this on me. We were talking to folks in rural areas, and one person explained that their community work sometimes endangered their lives. So were we just going to be there for two or three years and then be gone? We said, “No, we’ll be here long-term.” Our motto, “Ask. Listen. Act.” is built on the idea that the people who live in the communities have the answers. That approach sounds simple, but it has so much wisdom. And it was unheard of in philanthropy. We were talking about advocacy and activism and cultivating leadership on the local level, and people literally laughed at us. Well, they’re not laughing now. If you want to be a good policymaker and a good steward, you must listen to and be influenced by nonprofits working on the issues of concern in their communities. With a career spanning academia, politics and philanthropy, Dr. Patiño knows firsthand the complexity of giving out money. He has been a cabinet member focused on employment and economic security under former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt and California Governor Jerry Brown. Currently, Dr. Patiño serves as vice chancellor emeritus for the California State University system.
We’ve come far with this model – beyond my imagination. The number of policies at the local level that have been championed by grantee organizations and had fruition is amazing. In Chicago, the Equal Voice coalition across Muslims, blacks, browns and whites blows me away. And in the Deep South and along the U.S.-Mexico border, where people are finding out that browns and blacks have more in common than they might have assumed – that blows me away, too. We are getting there.
̏Our motto, ‘Ask. Listen. Act.’ is built on the idea that the people who live in the communities have the answers. ˮ - Douglas Patiño
ﾌ終t may take a while to change poverty, but families advocating for themselves is an opening wedge.ﾋｮ - William H. Foege
William H. Foege
Board member since 2001 I see poverty as truly one of the major roadblocks to progress in society. We think of poverty in terms of money, but it pervades everything. The role of fatalism here is crucial, because fatalism is the attitude that makes people think they can’t change the future – and then they don’t try. So, as we put the Marguerite Casey Foundation board together, we had hopes of organizing poor people, yes, but there was no way we could have seen that the foundation would go as far as it has. It’s aimed right at fatalism. Giving poor people a voice actually assists them in breaking out of fatalism. It may take a while to change poverty, but families advocating for themselves is an opening wedge. People can’t be expressing their needs, going to Capitol Hill and talking to congressmen if they’re fatalistic. You’ve changed them forever. And it’s sort of an infectious disease – if a mother loses her fatalism, her children aren’t going to have it, either. At meeting after meeting with poor families, we hear the same thing: that this person would never have spoken up in the past. And when I think about the Equal Voice conventions in Birmingham and Los Angeles – poor people standing up and giving these stirring addresses – it has increased my understanding of the capacity in these communities. We’ve just given them a platform to realize it. At the beginning, we could not have visualized how important this idea of giving voice to poor people and creating coalitions would be. But no one person breaks out alone. In America, we should actually seek interdependence with the same zeal that we seek self-reliance. The foundation is making this visible: that coalitions are the answer to fighting poverty. A pivotal figure in the field of global health, Dr. Foege, an epidemiologist, is widely credited with helping to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. He served as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control from 1977 to 1983 and has spent his career championing child survival and development in poor communities. He is a senior fellow with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Marguerite Casey Foundation has had a far greater impact on poverty than we could have foreseen. And when you think that it’s only been around 10 years, that’s quite a statement.
Joan B. Poliak
Board member since 2004 As a social worker, I really embraced the mission of Marguerite Casey Foundation, which was to help poor families take charge of their own destiny – to be advocates, activists and educators for their own communities. It’s something I’ve come to believe in strongly. When I went to the Equal Voice convention in Chicago, I saw this belief in action. I saw young children helping their families understand the agenda, translating for their parents so that the families could vote. It will remain one of the most moving experiences in my life. In Jackson, Miss., I’d seen how hard even a cornerstone organization has to work just to get limited results. But when we went back to the same organization a few years later to see what it had accomplished with support from Marguerite Casey Foundation, I was dumbfounded: Their ability to make changes in the community and at the state level was stunning. I also will never forget a visit to Long Beach, Calif., where we saw the effects of environmental smog on families: Children couldn’t go out at recess because of the smog. In Florida, I saw the struggles of a young undocumented man to go to college and not be deported. Those experiences made a huge impact on me. So, I think Marguerite Casey Foundation must continue to work deep within the communities, because that’s where it is having such a huge impact. I have been stunned by the kind of work this small staff is able to do in so many areas. It has so much vitality and, from year to year, you could see change in the communities. I see movement, progress, energy. And I see results. As a practicing social worker, Ms. Poliak has spent four decades engaged in the struggles faced by low-income children and families. In 1987, she was appointed chair of the Washington state Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (now the Council for Children and Families). The following year, she helped found the Morningsong Early Learning Center to focus on the needs of homeless children. Currently, Ms. Poliak serves as vice-chair of the board of trustees of Casey Family Programs and sits on the national board of the Child Welfare League of America.
Looking forward, I think the Equal Voice agenda needs to gain a national voice. But Marguerite Casey Foundation can’t say it alone. We need to ally with other organizations that also speak for families and make Equal Voice a concerted movement. When you have 30,000 families saying, “This is what we think,” that’s a big voice, and it’s very important not to lose that message.
̏Marguerite Casey Foundation must continue to work deep within the communities, because that’s where it is having such a huge impact.ˮ - Joan B. Poliak
“The money from Casey allowed us to sit back and think, ‘What if?’” Watkins said. “What if we could really move an agenda, what would we do?”
Photo by PICO
TARGET Area Development Corporation
Patricia Watkins knew it in her bones: Misguided criminal justice policies were decimating African-American families in Illinois, dumping thousands of exoffenders with dismal employment prospects in already-distressed communities. She also knew it would be up to community members to convince legislators there was a better way. Yet, Watkins, who had grown up in poverty herself and founded the TARGET Area Development Corporation to help her community, was forced to spend the bulk of her time chasing grant money just to keep the fledgling organization alive. But in 2004, with the financial support from Marguerite Casey Foundation, things began to change. After 10 years of work at the grassroots level, Watkins and her team could finally step back and envision what it would take to truly improve Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods and then put that plan into action.
Luz in these rooms, talking to all these different people, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: These problems are across the board.” First on TARGET Area’s docket: Tackling the barriers to employment facing almost every ex-offender with a felony conviction. Those hurdles had created an expanding population of the permanently jobless, which all but guaranteed recidivism and, ultimately, higher prison costs for taxpayers. Working with government officials, Watkins and her staff successfully lobbied the Illinois Legislature to pass a bill that would seal the records of drug users and other nonviolent felons, making it easier for them to find jobs post-prison. Staffers then turned their attention toward the dismal education results in minority communities, lobbying lawmakers to fund the Grow Your Own Teachers Act, a statewide initiative that recruits community members, supports them through college, and forgives their school loans if they earn a teaching certificate and work in a designated school for five years. To date, the program has seen 23 graduates enter classrooms as fully accredited teachers, and 500 candidates – most of them women of color – are in the pipeline.
Seven years and $1,225,000 in general support funding later, TARGET Area has helped reduce recidivism in Illinois, birthed spin-off groups that are spearheading education reform, and brought voices of the working poor into corridors of power across the state. “The money from Casey allowed us to sit back and think, ‘What if?’” Watkins said. “What if we could really move an agenda, what would we do?” Their answer was a three-year strategy aimed at injecting family voices into debates on criminal justice and education policies – without being beholden to politically motivated interests. “We wanted this plan to be sustainable, not bought by any particular group,” Watkins said. As a result, TARGET Area accepts no money from the notoriously politicized city of Chicago. Lead staffers went back to school to hone their skills in organizational development, research and evaluation. Meanwhile, Watkins herself was getting an unexpected education on the victories to be reaped through building relationships across ethnic lines. “We didn’t do that before,” she said. “It was just black people. But I saw
“The Marguerite Casey money challenged us,” Watkins says. “Because when you don’t have to chase money, you can relax. We didn’t.”
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Today, TARGET Area’s interim executive director, Sharod Gordon, sits on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s transition team for education. And Watkins herself advises high-level opinionmakers on school reform – not to mention helping to disburse $15 million in state money to other community groups – as a board member for Advance Illinois. “None of that would have happened if our profile had not been raised by Marguerite Casey,” she says. “Having the passion is not enough – it will eat you alive. But to have someone come in and say, ‘We agree with you, and we’ll support you,’ it’s everything.”
Gary R. Severson
Founding board member At Casey Family Programs, we wanted to have more flexibility in the prevention of foster care – to beat the problem of broken families at the outset – which was our toughest area. That was the genesis of Marguerite Casey Foundation. We spent a year reaching out to different communities throughout the country, just listening to organizations that could help define, explain and clarify the needs of families. But we still didn’t have the full sense of where this might go. Marguerite Casey Foundation has crafted its own niche by energizing communities to strengthen and empower families. I was in Chicago when 4,000 to 5,000 people showed up in buses and vans for the Equal Voice convention, and it was powerful. The foundation’s aims are ambitious. This movement is about families taking control of their communities – whether that’s through establishing workers’ rights or creating healthy and safe neighborhoods – and, frankly, that’s starting to become a trend on a macro level. We are very proud that we had something to do with its origins.
As chairman of the board of Casey Family Programs, Mr. Severson was closely connected with the birth of Marguerite Casey Foundation, convening a blue-ribbon panel of experts from government, philanthropy, public health and child welfare to hammer out a vision for the new organization. Mr. Severson has long been active in Seattle’s business and education communities, holding leadership positions at the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington, Pacific Lutheran University and the Washington Council on International Trade.
Ruth Massinga Founding chair
I think the original issue was how we were going to use this foundation opportunity to come up with a complementary mission and vision to Casey Family Programs. We were interested in finding a way for low-income families to avoid breakups. If we could provide them with the voice and the opportunities to address their needs, we could prevent family dissolution and, in fact, create stronger families. As a result, children could remain with their families. It was looking at prevention in a holistic way. For me, the Equal Voice convention in Birmingham was a realization of many of the goals I hoped we could accomplish. Families of all stripes, all with different issues, were able to come together in a meaningful way and draw upon the strengths of each other. They were feeling confident about being able to address many issues, such as health care and education, in a collective manner. I was struck by the advances that had been made. The issues of race and class were being surmounted. I was struck by the happiness people felt in having their own voices heard. It was gratifying. There was real recognition that families understand more clearly than the professionals what the next steps must be. It is about listening to what the parents and the families think. We are here to make sure that the support for families is alive and well, especially with all the pressures families are experiencing.
Ms. Massinga is the retired president and chief executive officer of Casey Family Programs and the founding chair of the board of directors for Marguerite Casey Foundation. She holds a master’s degree in social services from Boston University. Ms. Massinga served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources and as the executive director of Social Services Administration for that department. She was a congressional appointee to the National Commission on Children and served as a board member and chair of the Family Resource Coalition.
In the next decade, we have to look at how we use the experience we had in the last 10 years, and understand the smart ways to continue to engage families so that they can maintain their goals for themselves. Today, the issue might be housing; tomorrow, it might be jobs. Those issues will have to be sorted out based on the pressures of the moment. The most striking discovery for me was that we could set up a foundation that had an impact much more quickly than we thought we could. We were able to bring together a board and a talented and gifted staff, and give them opportunities for success and learning on an ongoing basis. There were controversial issues when we started, but that discussion has turned out to be useful. Not accepting applications for grants, for example, probably felt difficult at first. But, by setting our own criteria, we were able to set up a different process of grantmaking. Looking at our results, we have come a long way quickly because we were focused – we weren’t trying to meet other people’s expectations of the right thing to do.
Board member since 2008 When you see the brave work supported by this foundation – the people pushing for students’ rights in Mississippi, or criminal justice reform in New Orleans, or green jobs in Oakland – you have to say: Marguerite Casey Foundation must be a group of individuals who are thinking very differently. They are open and unafraid of uncertainty, and, at the same time, share a profound faith in the strength of communities. Now, 10 years after its founding, Marguerite Casey Foundation no longer needs to use a “what if” theory of change: What if we had more community organizations functioning well? What if they were connecting? Today, they are connecting, embracing around the Equal Voice platform, and that is creating the center of a true movement. Marguerite Casey Foundation My time on the board has sharpened my understanding of this need for connections. I has crafted have met so many people doing incredible things that we at Latino Health Access were its own niche not doing. I’d been sitting for 30 years with health care providers – what did I know by energizing about housing? And, guess what, that was reflected in our work. But bring the families communities in. They will tell you. It’s made me more humble, more informed and more strategic. If to strengthen we could change Santa Ana alone, we would have. So, now we work from this point of and empower view: You can’t do this alone, and neither can I. families. The cross-issue idea is one of the most important elements of the foundation’s mission. The reaction from outside is always: Can you focus? How do you measure the results? Well, go back to the families. Families don’t say: ‘For three years, I’m going to think about housing, but I’m not going to worry about taking a shower.’ The way families operate is the inspiration for the foundation’s approach. And it is working. It’s not just an exercise. Communities are gaining a stronger voice and a stronger role in producing Dr. Bracho is the founder and executive director policy changes that affect low-income families. of Latino Health Access, a Marguerite Casey Foundation grantee organization focused on Luz talks about movement building. By definition, if it’s moving, it’s changing. So disease prevention among low-income families now people are, indeed, becoming empowered, and they are telling us how to do in Santa Ana, Calif. Born in Venezuela, Dr. Bracho things. This is a movement of truth and sincerity. You come out of that transformed. received her master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan and then created the HIV/AIDS project for Latino Family Services in Detroit. As a former newspaper columnist and radio talk-show host, she sees the media as an important tool for disseminating health information to underserved communities.
C ̏ ommunities are gaining a stronger voice and a stronger role in producing policy changes that affect low-income families.ˮ - America Bracho
Ě? eople who believe in general-support granting P are folks who believe in a miracle before they see it.Ë?
Photo by PICO
PICO National Network Thirty years of work with low-income families had led to a number of local wins for People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO), yet leaders in the national, faith-based organization had the uncomfortable feeling they were “winning battles but losing the war,” as Executive Director Scott Reed puts it.
year, doesn’t qualify for state-funded health insurance. “We’ve found that there’s very little experience of real people in Washington,” Reed said. “So our work has been focused on moving people back into positions where their voice can be heard.”
Organizers in PICO’s network were fighting in 17 states for health care reform, access to affordable housing and safer neighborhoods. But with little coordination state-to-state, their struggles and victories were largely isolated. Meanwhile, essential debates were taking place in Washington, D.C., that often made PICO’s local actions moot. “This was having a dramatic impact on the lives of our families, yet the very people most affected were absent from the debate because we had no infrastructure to engage them,” Reed says.
Newly engaged through improved communication, PICO’s members pushed their representatives in 120 congressional districts to pass the president’s Affordable Care Act, becoming such a forceful presence in the debate that several members were on hand in 2009 when President Obama signed legislation extending health insurance to 4 million children. “We weren’t alone in this effort, but PICO members certainly played a major role in getting insurance for millions of children who otherwise would not have been covered,” Reed says.
Joining with Marguerite Casey Foundation in December 2002 changed all that.
This year, federal officials are again turning to PICO in the wake of research from an affiliated group showing that families living in a single Camden, N.J., housing project cost that city $12 million over six years because they had no access to health care other than the local emergency room. That information, publicized through PICO’s improved communications system, resulted in Camden’s city hospitals pitching in to build a new clinic inside the public housing complex. Washington, D.C., has taken note.
With support from the foundation, PICO created a national communications and policy office in Washington, D.C., and developed online strategies to connect individual chapters with one another. “Now we’re able to put 140,000 people on a phone call with President Obama,” said Reed, referring to a seminal event in the battle for health care reform. “Before Marguerite Casey supported us, we didn’t have any mass email capability or even a serious online presence.” At the same time, PICO used its general support grants to invest in research, learning how to move levers of power, and then recruited 200 new organizers to do so. Nine years and $3.7 million later, PICO has brought 3,000 people to Washington, D.C., to speak for themselves in front of Congress. Its members have described to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner how it feels to watch your 70-year-old mother lose her home to foreclosure, or what it means to be a single mother who, at $18,000 a
“People who believe in general-support granting are folks who believe in a miracle before they see it,” says Reed, crediting Marguerite Casey Foundation for support crucial to helping PICO become a major presence in health care reform. “We had a dream – a vision – that grassroots organizing could have an impact in corridors of power, but we didn’t have a product to show that we could do it.” Marguerite Casey Foundation, however, believed. “They saw it,” says Reed, “and joined us before it happened.”
10 years of change •
Casey Family Programs creates Marguerite Casey Foundation to address foster care.
• Inaugural board of directors – Duncan A. Bayne; William H. Foege; Freeman A. Hrabowski, III; Ruth W. Massinga; Douglas X. Patiño; Patricia Schroeder; and Gary R. Severson – instated in June.
• Board determines that families will be the focus of the foundation’s work; the role of the foundation will be to build the capacity of
the field and strengthen the institutions that improve the quality of families’ lives: “This foundation is going to focus on the gaps that no one else is willing to…we will go where others won’t.”
Board of directors adopts mission, vision, and funding approach. • Mission: Marguerite Casey Foundation exists to help low-income families strengthen their voice and mobilize their communities in order to achieve a more just and equitable society for all.
• Vision: We imagine a just and equitable society for all, where all children are nurtured to become compassionate, responsible and self-reliant adults; where families are engaged in the life of their communities, the nation and the world; and where people take responsibility for meeting today’s needs as well as those of future generations.
• Funding approach: Target funds where needs and opportunities are greatest; fund networking and capacity building to help grantees interact, share knowledge and ideas; no issue areas; multiyear general support grants.
After a fact-finding mission that includes listening circles with family constituents and interviews of child-welfare experts, the foundation determines that the most effective use of its funds is to focus on prevention of the dissolution of families – rather than on reforming public institutions, such as the child welfare system.
Support organizations that empower low-income families to advocate policy that benefits their communities and families.
Grantmaking guidelines are set: •
Provide long-term general support for organizations that use education, advocacy, and activism strategies with the goal of movement building.
Fund organizations in regions with the highest concentration of youth and family poverty: West (CA), Southwest (AZ, NM, TX), South (LA, MS, GA, AL, AR, FL) and Midwest (Chicago).
First grants are awarded in November.
10 years of impact •
Foundation adopts Ask, Listen, Act as its brand promise.
Foundation’s core values – diversity and anti-racism; equity; learning and growing; mutual respect and trust; stewardship; sustained connections; transparency – are set.
Washington state is added to grantmaking portfolio as Home State Fund.
Foundation determines “what we do”: “We seek to nurture a movement of low-income families and communities by buildingconstituencies, strengthening organizations and connecting grantees across regions and across disciplines.”
It is ongoing, always goes Speaks to being a learning organization. Speaks to back to Ask. continual improvement.
Funding criteria are set: •
Cornerstone organizations in low-income communities that work with low-income families, want to expand that base, and train local parents as leaders, advocates or organizers.
Organizations with an existing record of achieving policy change at the local level.
• Foundation holds first regional convenings in Birmingham, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. • Subregions Mississippi Delta and Lower Rio Grande Valley added to portfolio to strengthen relationships between African-American and Latino communities.
• Network weavers hired to facilitate cohesion between groups in the target communities.
Foundation defines movement building: “Diverse communities linked together by shared values and goals that foster change by challenging public policy and entrenched attitudes that create barriers to prosperity and equality.”
In response to Hurricane Katrina, the foundation creates an emergency relief fund to assist Gulf Coast residents and organizations with immediate needs and rebuilding efforts.
The foundation convenes its national grantees to broaden the scope of the foundation’s work and influence. National organizations’ unique position between grassroots organizations and policymakers may potentially provide an infrastructure to connect the movement’s various scales of operation.
10 years of determination •
The foundation holds regional convenings – one of its core non-grantmaking strategies – to support the exchange of ideas and building of relationships and networks among the grantees.
Released “The Voices of Working Families” policy paper.
Funded two participatory action research projects in subregions.
• In response to families’ requests, the foundation asks: “What would a nationwide movement aimed at raising the voices of
poor and working families look like?” The answer is the Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign, which the foundation, in conjunction with its grantees, launches to mobilize and engage families in the development of a national family platform informed by the families themselves.
Equal Voice campaign holds 65 local town hall meetings across 12 states, mobilizing about 30,000 people.
The Equal Voice for America’s Families National Family Platform is created by the engagement of 15,000 families and ratified in Chicago by 100 family delegates.
Equal Voice campaign culminates in a three-city convention (Birmingham, Chicago, and Los Angeles), with more than 20,000 participants – approximately 15,000 in person and 5,000 online.
150 families hold “Day of Action on the Hill,” presenting the Equal Voice National Family Platform to legislators in Washington, D.C.
Creation of three-year mini-grant program to support grantee networks that emerged from the Equal Voice campaign. Criteria for selection include building a multi-issue, multiracial network that develops the skills of low-income leaders and achieves change on an issue connected to the Equal Voice National Family Platform.
Launch of Equal Voice, an online newspaper that elevates the voices of low-income families and brings attention to issues and policies affecting their lives.
Publication of “Lift Every Voice”, which documents the Equal Voice campaign as a movement-building strategy.
Hire of first staff reporter for Equal Voice newspaper.
10 years of leadership •
Kentucky and Tennessee are added to the South grantmaking region.
Documentary “Raising Hope: The Equal Voice Story” debuts and is broadcast on PBS stations across the country.
Equal Voice campaign becomes framework for movement building as a grantmaking strategy.
Within this framework families are an engaged and informed constituency who advocate in their own behalf; grantees are building a base of families, developing new leadership and networks.
Foundation initiates an aggressive social media strategy to connect grantees and low-income families across issues, geography and race; to engage other allies, including like-minded foundations, non-grantee organizations and journalists; and to increase grantees’ and their constituents’ awareness of and capacity to use new media for mobilizing and advocating for policy change.
The Patiño Moore Legacy Award – to recognize organizations and individuals whose work fosters interracial cooperation for social change – is created in conjunction with Hispanics in Philanthropy and the Association of Black Foundation Executives.
Publication of the foundation’s first impact assessment report demonstrates that long-term general operating support builds organizational capacity and was instrumental in sustaining organizations during the economic downturn.
Creation of the Equal Voice Journalism Fellowship to fund aspiring and established reporters to cover stories on poor communities.
Diversity and Antiracism
We courageously confront racism and discrimination. We reflect the voices, experiences and interests of diverse cultural and social groups.
We believe in a bottom-up approach to social change, one that treats everyone fairly and equitably. We strive to share information and best practices broadly with all grantees and with the field as a whole.
Learning and Growing
We foster a driven learning community, where we learn from experience, each other and the communities we serve. We believe that knowledge is powerful and that learning never ends.
Mutual Respect and Trust
We create an environment of teamwork and trust where acceptance and dignity are experienced by all. We are responsible for our actions, words and attitudes and are accountable to always follow through.
We are thoughtful, thorough and strategic in our grantmaking decisions. We make sound business decisions regarding the use of our resources, and we are committed to good results.
We seek to develop and strive to preserve permanent community connections for families. We believe in the power of strong relationships to effect community change.
We are open and honest in all we do. We strive to conduct our business with the utmost clarity and directness, so that others will always know.
uerite Casey Foundation · 1300 Dexter Avenue North, Suite 115 · Seattle, WA 98109 aseygrants.org · Phone: (206) 691-3134 · Fax: (206) 286-2725 · TYY: (206)273-7395 Marguerite Casey Foundation • 1425 4th Avenue, Suite 900 • Seattle, WA 98101 www.caseygrants.org • Phone: (206) 691-3134 • Fax: (206) 286-2725 • TTY: (206) 273-7395