Four Freedoms Fund: A Pioneering Foundation Partnership Advocates for Immigrants

by Karen Theroux

Jan 3, 2008

Although foundations aren't known for joining forces, in some circumstances partnership more than pays off. A good example is the Four Freedoms Fund, launched in 2003 to energize American democracy by actively supporting and engaging the country's newcomers. Its founding members, Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation1, national funders who had all been working individually on behalf of immigrants, took the unprecedented step of combining their funds and developing a joint strategy to support immigrant advocacy at the state and local level. "It was a way to be more responsive and strategic, and most importantly, to get more bang for the buck," says Geri Mannion, Carnegie Corporation program director, U.S. Democracy and Special Opportunities Fund. "We had to respond quickly and efficiently in a challenging and constantly changing political environment, where the needs of the grantees were great and growing, which meant we had to come up with a way of doing things differently."

  • Having a nonprofit conduit can make the collaborative nimble - it can deliver the precise amounts of money needed quickly to solve a crisis, where a large foundation might have to wait for the next quarterly board meeting to get funding approval, and it might be too late
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