PHILANTHROPY IN FORMATION
FCCP laissez les bons temps rouler, or let the good times roll, as we brought our national convening to New Orleans, Louisiana April 23-26, 2023.
FCCP’s 2023 Convening Philanthropy In Formation in New Orleans was a huge success! We would like to thank everyone who participated: attendees, speakers, session organizers, sponsors, members, the FCCP Advisory Board, our Convening Planning Committee, our consultants, hotel and venue staff, Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades Union and N.O.Vative Printing, and FCCP staff! We appreciate you and your hard work in the field. This work isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile. Thank you for being present in mind, body and spirit, and for sharing your ideas and perspectives as we move forward into the next election cycle. This year, you showed up in ways that we hope will inspire future generations to do the same! We hope to see you, again, at our 2024 Convening in Phoenix! Look for those details in the coming months.
Our 2023 Annual Convening was one of our most exciting events to date as we were able to take full advantage of the cultural history of our surroundings in New Orleans, but also because FCCP was able to make a more interactive experience for our attendees this year.
During our time together, so many things stood out and many lessons were learned – from what works and what could be improved upon when it comes to establishing a more inclusive democracy to how we build power at this critical time. However, the biggest takeaway from this year’s Convening is that dismantling the interlocking systems of oppression that block access to political power requires innovation, collaboration, and community outreach. Now that we have identified the issues and the strategies, we must implement these in practice, day-to-day, until we reach our goal of an inclusive, multi-racial, multi-generational democracy. To keep you motivated and remind each of you what is at stake, here is a complete review of our 2023 Convening and the takeaways from each day. Remember, reflect, and re-center yourselves in our shared experiences this year in NOLA, through this review and the images we have curated. Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll)!
"Remember, Reflect, And Re-Center:" FCCP's 2023 Annual Convening Events
2023 CONVENING BY THE NUMBERS
With each FCCP event, we strive to reach more people in the fight for democracy, grow our network and connect as many funders and practitioners who are willing to do the hard work and get into some “good trouble” that will benefit us all. The 2023 FCCP Annual Convening, Philanthropy in Formation, was no different. We are happy to report that the 2023 Convening was SOLD OUT! A total of 380 funders and practitioners attended this year’s four-day event in New Orleans, exceeding the number of attendees at last year’s 40th Anniversary Convening.
Our program featured four General Plenary sessions, 33 Breakout Sessions, two impromptu strategy sessions that centered on current issues: “The Tennessee Two” and multi-entity organizing. More than 150 speakers were on-hand to give high-energy, well-crafted, and informative perspectives on what is at stake and how funders play a unique role in securing a multiracial, and multigenerational democracy that lives up to its promise.
This year was so spectacular that we are confident next year our network will rise bigger, bolder, and better in Phoenix!
FCCP ADVISORY BOARD SERVICE RECOGNITION HONOREES
This year we honored members of the Funders’ Committee Advisory Board for their volunteer leadership service to the organization. The 2023 recipients were Keesha Gaskins-Nathan, Evan Bacalao, and Denise Cardinal, all of whom were honored at our Masquerade Welcome Reception. We also honored FCCP Advisory Board Co-Chairs Esperanza K. Tervalon and Jesse Beason, both of whom gave inspiring opening remarks on Convening Day One. Current FCCP Advisory Board members also gave a special award of recognition to Ilona Prucha, immediate past FCCP Advisory Board Co-Chair. Thank you for your service and commitment to FCCP and the communities that you serve. Your service to FCCP is greatly appreciated. Congratulations!
FCCP NETWORK AWARD RECIPIENTS
Congratulations to our two Inaugural FCCP Network Awardee members, Angela H. Cheng and trellis stepter, who we were able to honor and celebrate at our annual convening! Angela was the first recipient of the Network Leadership Award and trellis, Program Officer, Democracy, Climate and Power of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, received the first-ever FCCP Legacy Award. Speaking to the social justice work of The JPB Foundation where Angela is a Senior Program Officer, we were reminded of the true meaning of democracy – where all, regardless of their status or identity, can participate fully in the process. trellis told attendees that in order for democracy to survive, we must first “grapple with the collective trauma” of this nation. Angela and trellis exemplify FCCP’s vision and mission. Once again, we congratulate both of our awardees!
2023 CONVENING PERFORMERS
Ezinma: Meredith Ezinma Ramsay, professionally known as Ezinma [Eh-zeen-mah], is a violinist, film composer, and educator. As a performer, Ezinma has worked with renowned artists including Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar, Khalid, Joshua Bell, Yo Yo Ma, and Clean Bandit. As a composer, Ezinma has scored national advertisements for companies such as LG, Google, Lexus, and Essentia Water. She has composed music for documentaries, short films, and was even part of the Black Panther (2018) soundtrack. In addition, Ezinma is an advocate for music education. In the spring of 2022, she toured the most underserved elementary schools in Harlem and the Bronx on behalf of her non-profit Strings By Heart— a youth development program in NYC for children K-5 committed to bringing quality music instruction to children who couldn’t otherwise afford lessons. For more information on Ezinma, click here!
The Phunky Monkeys: Imagine having your own concert featuring Queen, Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, James Brown, Ray Charles, Shaggy, Journey, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Beyonce all in one night with sound and lighting to match those national acts . . . that’s what our 2023 Convening got with The Phunky Monkeys! Read the band’s full bio here.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS EXPERTS
This year, we added experts in Health and Wellness to our Convening program. Bianca Edwards and Brandi Chantalle provided sessions on Somatic Processing and Writing to Reveal and Heal (see the agenda) during the regular sessions. Both were also present to assist attendees process our trip to The Whitney Museum on the final day of the Convening. Learn more about Bianca and Brandi below.
FCCP’s BOOK DRIVE
FCCP partnered with Louisiana-based organizations on a book drive during our 2023 Convening in New Orleans to support local youth: Baldwin & Company, Our Voice Nuestra Voz, and Step Up Louisiana. This was the first time in our history that we hosted a book drive at a Convening!
Baldwin & Co. is the preeminent black-owned bookstore of the Southeast United States, located in New Orleans, LA. The bookstore serves individuals, schools, businesses, nonprofits and more using the power of books to inspire social justice. Through the power of books, Baldwin & Co. is increasing individuals’ ability to improve their lives and achieve economic independence. They work to eradicate the root causes of poverty, eliminate discrimination, increase access to opportunity, and combat the racism that underlies inequity.
Our Voice Nuestra Voice is a nation-building organization, anchoring ancestry while building Black and Brown solidarity in New Orleans. Our Voice Nuestra Voice remembers their shared culture and language, reconnect to the land, and organize our community around collective action. They build the capacity of community members, parents, and families to act as advocates in order to create a more equitable city, focusing on a number of issues including education, criminal justice, and immigration.
Step Up Louisiana’s multiracial and multigenerational membership engages in campaigns that directly affect our lives. Organizing for economic and educational justice in the South is fundamentally a fight against structural racism. This power analysis is essential to their work. Step Up Louisiana does the long-term base-building work we need to win and are flexible to respond in times of crisis.
Last year, we sent out a call for proposals and our network answered that call to action! Over 80 proposals were submitted for Convening sessions. Our team cultivated a very detailed agenda that catered to the true meaning of our theme, Philanthropy in Formation, and aligned with FCCP’s newly released 10-year Strategic Plan. Our team crafted a diverse program focused on issues around philanthropic practices, civic engagement policy, advocacy, and inclusion with workshops that were diverse and provided information and expertise to guide the work of our network of funders and practitioners in the next year and beyond. Last year, we sent out a call for proposals and our network answered that call to action! Over 80 proposals were submitted for Convening sessions. Our team cultivated a very detailed agenda that catered to the true meaning of our theme, Philanthropy in Formation, and aligned with FCCP’s newly released 10-year Strategic Plan. Our team crafted a diverse program focused on issues around philanthropic practices, civic engagement policy, advocacy, and inclusion with workshops that were diverse and provided information and expertise to guide the work of our network of funders and practitioners in the next year and beyond.
We began our convening itinerary focusing on the injuries, and reconciliation of such injuries, resulting from our country’s devastating history of slavery and white supremacy. Throughout all of our programming, were able to witness true community being built between our network of funders and practitioners around guiding investment in BIPOC leaders and organizations, true strategy being built during sessions such as our Tennessee Round Table, and lastly, true intentionality being built in centering impacted, disenfranchised people in all our work around achieving a just & equitable democracy. Given the rich culture and history of New Orleans, as well as Louisiana as a whole, we enjoyed being able to support local, community-based organizations through our book drive, as well as offer space for reflection, accountability, and healing at the sacred Congo Square & the Whitney Plantation. Our FCCP team looks forward to continuing these collaborative discussions and workshops in our virtual programming, as well as at our upcoming Funders Forward Summit and 2024 Annual Convening in Phoenix!
View the Convening Agenda HERE!
Pre-Convening Day began with three Morning Workshops: “Census & Redistricting: Organizing, Legal & Policy Strategies Shaping the Decade Ahead,” “Unlocking Our Full Potential: How Philanthropic Practices Are Evolving to Support Building Power,” and “Funding Operational Expenses for Long-Term Capacity Building.” Each of these examined where we are in the current fight for our democracy and how philanthropy is taking the reins in helping to build power in impacted communities.
The Afternoon Workshops, “Building and Sustaining Community Power with Participatory Budgeting,” “Nurturing Startup Civic Engagement Through Intentional Philanthropy,” and “The Power of Intermediaries: Collaboration as a Path to Funding Democracy (Funders Only),” focused on the practice of participatory democracy (PD) and the unique needs of startup grassroots organizations. Funders learned the ways in which they can support these organizations and their efforts.
- On Census & Redistricting: A solid organizational groundwork built on community trust must precede any litigation on redistricting. The organizing strategy must contend with meeting the practical needs of each constituency and should include: on-the-ground training, providing meals to volunteers and event participants, and transportation costs.
- On Power Building: We must “accelerate power wherever we can” by aligning our work and organizational strategies. How we show up to support one another is how we achieve our goals.
- On Capacity Building: Funding is the greatest need for expanding the capacity of organizations to do the work. This cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Funding strategies must be guided by the size and scope of the organizations when offering support.
- On Startups: Building a startup is like planting a seed, it needs attention, support, and resources to grow! Philanthropy can provide those resources.
“In the southern corner of Armstrong Park is Congo Square, an open space where the enslaved and free people of color gathered throughout the 19th century for meetings, open markets, and the African dance and drumming celebrations that played a substantial role in the development of jazz. Local voodoo practitioners still consider Congo Square a spiritual base and gather at the Square for rituals.” ~ The City of New Orleans
In the late afternoon of Pre-Convening Day, we convened at the historic Congo Square, in the French Quarter and experienced a spiritual awakening while watching and participating in an African Drumming Circle, dancing, and a pop-up market.
Historically, American speakeasies were dark, dank places where people went in secrecy to indulge in alcohol and entertainment during the prohibition period. Entrance often required people to speak a password to a guard at a door to prove they were not law enforcement. In the modern-day, speakeasies are becoming increasingly popular. These bars maintain the same level of secrecy as the original bars, and embody the sentiment of prohibition days, but operate legally. We created our own Speakeasy reception at the 2023 Convening.
The FCCP Convening Speakeasy Reception was an invitation-only cocktail hour-style event to thank our 2023 Convening speakers, sponsors, and VIP guests. It was held at the Chateau Le Moyne in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. Attendees were invited to “come, have a drink, enjoy some hors d’oeuvres, and mingle with other invited guests.” Attendees were also able to take the party outside to the Chateau Le Moyne Courtyard and breathe in the sounds and the atmosphere of The Big Easy.
We sent a keen reminder to our invited guests, “With a whispered tone and a mischievous grin, ‘BULBANCHA‘ at the door will get you in.” We selected the password “Bulbancha,” a Native American word that means “place of many tongues” and was the original name of New Orleans. Learn more about the history of Bulbancha and the history of Native Americans in New Orleans from New Orleans Historical, a project by The Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans, HERE.
The official kick-off of FCCP’s 2023 Annual Convening began with a spirited musical performance by violinist Ezinma, followed by Welcome and Opening Remarks by FCCP’s Advisory Board Members Estevan Muñoz-Howard (Treasurer), Esperanza K. Tervalon (Co-Chair), Jesse Beason (Co-Chair), and FCCP Executive Director LaShanda A. Jackson. Each spoke to the diversity of work our members support and the diversity in the communities our practitioner partners serve. They shared with attendees what it means for funders, practitioners, and activists to get in formation on the road to 2024 and what we can learn from each other over the course of the Convening!
Estevan spoke first, reminding our attendees that now is the time for us to “be ready – unified, unwavering and undaunted“ in our approach to the future, specifically as 2024 approaches and we begin to assess and implement the power we have built since the 2022 election cycle. “Hope isn’t just hard. It can be quite amazing, like a mustard seed of faith that, when you spread it, the minds of people who are demanding that we do democracy different way – one that works for everyone – grow to do the impossible. So, I have the hope that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had in 1968 when he said ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ And justice can only prevail when democracy works and democracy only works when the will of the people prevails.”
Next, Jesse spoke about vision – specifically the larger vision beyond those of our individual organizations, which he synthesized down to truth and accountability. “Not only do we believe in the power of collective action, we believe that you have to call a thing a thing. Disenfranchisement is a thing. Racism is a thing. Sexism is a thing. Homophobia is a thing. Transphobia is a thing. Xenophobia is a thing. We don’t eradicate these things by being polite with our words. We erase them by calling them out for what they are. It is only when we listen to and learn from each other through the lens of these diverse issues that we come closer to bending the arc toward justice.”
Esperanza followed Jesse in giving a warm welcome that shared her personal connection to New Orleans, a city she referred to as a “city that is still rebuilding its communities through purposeful philanthropic action and hard-fought campaigns by the organizations who live and love in The Big Easy.” Esperanza urged attendees to leave the 2023 Convening with “the inspiration to continue to act to protect our voices, our people, and our democracy. In this spirit, let’s make the most of this time by working together to make our network stronger, our communities more responsive, and our world more just and equitable.”
FCCP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LASHANDA AKIA JACKSON
FCCP Executive Director LaShanda Akia Jackson opened by honoring the land and labor of the indigenous Chitimacha tribe and over 135,000 enslaved West Africans whose legacy is at the heart of New Orleans history. LaShanda continued with an address that gave a point-by-point breakdown of our collective purpose – engaging attendees to recall their first time.
Read Executive Director’s remarks HERE!
DAY ONE SESSIONS
Following these remarks, we began our Opening Plenary session, “From Injury to Intention: ‘How you gonna win when you ain’t right within?'” Day One Morning Breakout Sessions focused on power-building in the South and Southwest, investing in municipal civic engagement, ending felony disenfranchisement in the South, and building shared power through collaborative governance. The Lunch Breakouts focused on Black voters, expanding the base, building Indigenous political power, and strategies for filling the progressive gap on TikTok. With social media being the way most voters get their news and information about elections, using these mediums, particularly TikTok, will be key to moving large blocs of voters to the polls in November of 2024.
The General Plenary focused on mitigating the crises facing our democracy as we move into the 2024 election cycle. From past issues involved in the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, like voter intimidation, harassment of election officials, certifying election results, and political violence, speakers shared how these events impacted the last two elections and the field-wide efforts that will respond to these challenges in 2024.
Afternoon Breakout Sessions continued to focus on the strategies that will help engage specific communities, including LGBTQ civic engagement, climate impacts on long-term power-building, and the structural reforms needed to put power back in the hands of people.
The afternoon also included a preview of our ongoing “Sofa Sessions” bringing together artists and influencers who are leveraging their platforms to speak to communities. This session focused on the cultural organizing activities of the Hip Hop Caucus and how storytelling can bridge the gaps in social justice activism.
Somatic Processing and Writing to Reveal and Heal were offered to attendees who wanted to reflect, refresh and recharge. While others networked at Convening in the Hallway, a mass meeting to discuss the “Tennessee Two” and organizing for change in Tennessee.
Takeaways from Day One:
- Rebuilding our democracy begins by rebuilding trust in one another.
- Creating a multi-racial, multi-identity democracy requires that we call out the power structures.
- Voter suppression is occurring across populations and acts as a barrier to the full, participatory civic engagement of the most disenfranchised communities.
- Emerging media platforms like TikTok are critical to engaging young voters, shifting the cultural narrative, and educating voters about the issues at stake in each election cycle.
- The election crises faced in 2022 must be averted so that as many people as possible can participate in the political process.
- Innovation is what we should look for in the evidence-based strategies we use to guide us forward in this movement.
- Knowing that a candidate cares is no longer enough. This knowledge must be partnered with action and opportunity so that communities can have the representation they want as opposed to the representation they are given.
Described as “the quintessential New Orleans art form – a jazz funeral without a body,” the Second Line has a long history originating in NOLA’s African-American community. These early neighborhood celebrations not only honored the dead at traditional New Orleans funerals, they also “provided social aid to freed slaves, such as loans and insurance, and used the second lines as a form of advertising,” according to NewOrleans.com. FCCP’s Second Line was a joyful convening of our diverse network of funders and practitioners! Participants donned festive masks and were given whistles, parasols, and handkerchiefs to dance their way down Canal Street and onto the Masquerade Welcome Reception.
MASQUERADE WELCOME RECEPTION
Following the Second Line, attendees enjoyed a Mardi Gras-themed Masquerade Welcome Reception where they sampled regional cuisine, danced, and networked along a New Orleans riverfront. Music was provided by a local Louisiana cover band, The PHUNKY Monkeys.
The night’s keynote speaker, Emanuel “Boo” Milton spoke to the importance of philanthropy in helping to strengthen people who want a more just democracy, saying, “I know what it’s like to have people invest in people because I am a product of it. When systems fail us, people can’t. So, you must fill in the gaps wherever you can, now. Take this energy that you have and fill in the gaps with your philanthropy. Invest in new ideas and new leadership.”
FCCP members Angela H. Cheng and trellis stepter received their FCCP Network Awards following the keynote address.
Day Two of Philanthropy in Formation focused on BIPOC voters and leadership, disability justice in voting, state ballot measures, and access to the polls.
“Truth & Reconciliation: What it Means to be a BIPOC Leader in this Moment” was the morning’s General Plenary. A panel discussed how BIPOC leaders are having to navigate multiple crises that disproportionately affect BIPOC communities while being called to protect our democracy from disinformation challenges coming from a number of sources. They also discussed the roles of systemic racism and how BIPOC leaders are addressing each. Three Ignite Sessions on the use of public dollars for the public good, elections, and reproductive justice followed. Amy Allison spoke specifically to the need for us to “ignite” around and support women. FCCP plans to host virtual programs in the coming months that dive deeper into these three Ignite Session topics.
The first round of Day Two Breakout Sessions focused on using other legal entities to increase the impact of 501(c)(3) organizations, the case for universal voting, voting access and disability justice in the South, and how AAPI voters have expanded their outreach through innovative practices.
A Networking Luncheon encouraged attendees to “Relax, Relate, and Release.” This luncheon was an opportunity, also, for our members and practitioner partners to collaborate, and forge new partnerships for power-building. FCCP’s Book Drive partner, Baldwin & Co. opened a pop-up shop for attendees to purchase books and/or make a donation in support of literacy projects in Louisiana benefitting our partners Step Up Louisiana and Our Voice Nuestra Voz.
Another series of Breakouts on Young BIPOC voters in Arizona and Georgia, exploring alternative philanthropic models, and democracy ballot measures at both the state and municipal levels followed the Networking Luncheon.
The final Breakout Sessions of the 2023 FCCP Annual Convening focused on building the power of workers in the South, mobilizing young BIPOC voters to action, galvanizing voters around the costs of housing, and building a state-by-state strategy for empowering immigrants.
Day Two concluded with a Closing Plenary, “Power Building in Rural, Conservative and Other Overlooked Geographies.” Attendees learned that building power and advancing civic engagement isn’t just something to strive for in largely populated or battleground states. “Power to the People” means meeting all people where they are and employing strategies that are specific to the populations in these “non-traditional,” conservative-leaning states like South Carolina, Missouri, and Alaska.
Takeaways from Day Two:
- Intentional movements that are to strengthen democracy should have an “understanding there is bloodshed that comes with democracy exclusion.”
- Youth activism rooted in faith is “not boring, it is not quiet,” and it can lend to the movement by reaching across identities, generations, and faith communities.
- An important part of philanthropy is “releasing control, transferring agency, and redefining power when it comes to how we think about wealth and money.”
- As we move forward, keep this “gentle call to action” from writer and activist Octavia Butler in mind: “So be it! See to it!” For Butler, this was how she reaffirmed and recommitted herself, each day, to her purpose on this planet. Throughout the 2023 Convening, we hope that each of you did the same. We know the challenges ahead, and we know what we must do, “So be it! See to it!“
THANK YOUS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Our 2023 Convening closed with Acknowledgements and Remarks from FCCP Executive Director LaShanda A. Jackson who thanked our attendees, once again, for taking the time to be with us in mind body, and spirit this year and for showing up for FCCP and all of our communities year-round. She also thanked the FCCP Advisory Board for their guidance and support, as well as the CPC for their tireless work in helping to make the 2023 Convening a huge success! LaShanda ended by thanking our speakers, session organizers, and members for their generosity and commitment to putting Philanthropy in Formation.
THE WHITNEY PLANTATION
We traveled to The Whitney Plantation for reconciliation and healing from the legacy we endure as a nation – one that can be directly linked to the enslavement of African and Indigenous people in America.
Takeaways from The Whitney:
- We honor the past through the actions we take to ensure a better future.
- Democracy is fragile. There are a number of forces that would like to reverse course and return to this period in our shared history. It is up to those of us who can envision a more inclusive world to do the work to make that vision a lived reality for all people.
- Liberation comes through social movements, grassroots organizing, civic engagement, and building collective power that is controlled by the people and not institutions.
- “Just a quick note of deep appreciation for all that LaShanda and the entire extended team did to create such a meaningful conference, learning space and convening for everyone there.”
“I learned so much at FCCP, and am taking a lot with me as we discuss our strategic direction here and in my role as a [program officer]. One of the best conferences I’ve ever been to!”
“[I] want to really emphasize what an incredible display [this convening was in the depth of] the approach of the content and in the framework for building relationships among funders and with the groups present, a hybrid approach for which I’ve heard much praise from funders as an opportunity to connect with new groups and from folks in the field saying they felt the space created opportunities for access and real connections and conversations that it is difficult often to find.”
“It was great to be in community with great minds and visionary leaders and to do that with positive energy made all the difference. LaShanda set a great tone for the event and moved through it with grace, professionalism, and vulnerability.”
*Testimonials have been minimally edited for clarity
We had so many thoughtful conversations at FCCP’s 2023 Convening, Philanthropy in Formation! Again, we thank everyone who participated, and we will see you next year in Phoenix!
2023 Convening Program
An overview agenda and list of speakers can also be found here.
Thank You to Our 2023 Sponsors!