Three pathways of change represent priorities for layering our investments of money, time, relationships, leverage and learning: economic opportunity, democracy and civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions. We think of these pathways as broad, mutually reinforcing approaches to social change. Our experience tells us networks and places that advance along more than one pathway are more successful at progress toward economic and social justice.
People are better positioned to escape poverty when they have direct access to jobs and ways to turn income into durable assets. Some of these ladders of economic opportunity include work supports, job training and connections to employers seeking skilled, fair-wage labor. Others include access to non-predatory financial services, local control of community assets and tools to encourage entrepreneurship and new business models.
Democracy and civic engagement
We believe in the power of democracy and civic engagement to effect positive transformations. This happens when a broad range of people—including those who are low-wealth and directly affected by inequality—develop the knowledge, skills, networks and motivation to build democratic systems and challenge entrenched structures. Key strategies to support these outcomes include community organizing, leadership development, inclusive community planning, voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Supportive policies and institutions
For communities to thrive, for‐profit and nonprofit institutions and all levels of government must foster cultures and adopt policies that open doors to economic opportunity and democratic participation for low-wealth people. Supportive institutions can bring new resources to the table, effectively implement policy and leverage political will. Strategies toward these outcomes include research, strategic communications, advocacy and community organizing.
We recognize important work can and should happen in other ways and for other purposes. The Foundation believes these pathways and their intersections provide important opportunities to address real needs and accelerate progress toward our vision of the South.
The Babcock Foundation invites proposals from local, statewide and regional nonprofits in the Southeastern United States that have track records of helping people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice.
While the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation funds across the South, we seek to identify places and work that reflect the approaches and criteria described above. Given the size and complexity of the region, we focus the majority of our efforts in priority places where promising networks are advancing complementary outcomes over a specific period of time. At this time, we have particular interest in supporting economic transition work in central Appalachia, civic engagement for local and state policy change in Arkansas and North Carolina, and community economic development efforts in South Carolina.
One way we learn about promising work across the region is through our open inquiry process. We are pleased to receive an organizational summary from organizations that believe they meet our eligibility requirements and fit with our program description, regardless of geography.
The size and duration of grants is matched to the applicant’s scale of impact, need, capabilities, and opportunities. Initial grants are typically for one to two years, and subsequent grants may be for up to three years. The size of grants ranges from $20,000 to $50,000 annually for grassroots organizations, emerging networks or new projects that are poised to expand their impact. Organizations and networks with track records of impact are eligible for grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 annually, depending on their scale of impact. We welcome funding partners and rarely make grants that exceed 30% of a project or organizational budget. If you have questions about the appropriate terms for a grant request, please call the Foundation.