Founded in 2000, the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO) is a dynamic collective of social justice funders and youth organizing practitioners dedicated to advancing youth organizing as a strategy for youth development and social change. FCYO’s mission is to bring funders and youth organizers together to ensure that young people have the resources, capacities and infrastructure they need to fight for a more just and democratic society.
Our work is grounded in our close relationships with the youth organizing field and a commitment to meaningful partnerships between funders and youth organizers:
Move resources to grassroots youth organizing groups on the forefront of social justice to help them seize strategic opportunities and address critical needs.
Increase capacity of youth organizing groups to build meaningful power and cultivate the strategic leadership and holistic development of young people.
Connect youth organizing groups across issues and geography to share tools and lessons, increase alignment and sharpen strategies for building power.
Organize funders to learn from one another, align funding strategies and expand resources for youth organizing.
Build knowledge among funders, organizers and the general public about the impact of youth organizing on broader movement building WORK and individual youth development.
During the 1990's, youth organizing gained considerable momentum as a viable way for young people (ages 12-24) to realize their leadership potential and effect concrete changes in their communities and local institutions. Where just a handful of youth organizing groups existed ten years ago, now over 100 community-based efforts across the country are engaging thousands of youth to wage strategic, intentional campaigns around public school reform, environmental justice, police brutality, welfare reform, youth services funding, the prison and criminal justice system, and a host of other issues.
In pursuit of a vision of democratic participation, principled leadership and social change, these youth have secured sizeable victories over the last decade or so. In the process, they are gaining critical awareness and knowledge, analytical and problem-solving skills, and renewed hope that change and improvement is possible. Youth organizing has particularly appealed to some of the nation's most marginalized youth, including poor youth, youth of color, and out-of-school youth.
FCYO was founded to respond to two immediate needs in the field of youth organizing:
The need for commitment, support and resources for long-term stability, sustainability and wider impact of youth organizing groups given their growth, maturation and challenges.
The need for sustained, expanded support and funding for youth organizing beyond philanthropic trends.
In 1997, a group of grantmakers (Ford Foundation, Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Jewish Fund for Justice, Merck Family Fund, Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Surdna Foundation) hosted a briefing about the leadership of young people and advancing positive systemic changes in the community. Drawing over 75 funders, the event signified a clear groundswell of activity and interest around this powerful strategy called youth organizing. Recognizing that scarce resources were targeted to this relatively young but promising field, the working group issued a mandate for a collaborative funder effort to catalyze support for youth organizing. In 2000, the Funders' Collaborative on Youth Organizing was formally launched.
FCYO seeks to bring about a society in which young people are integral leaders and decision-makers in their own lives and communities, and in which the systems and institutions that serve them and their families are held accountable. Youth are one of the largest, fastest growing and increasingly diverse populations in the U.S. today. Given the current disinvestment in quality public education and strong community infrastructures, and the parallel increase in fast track poverty, unemployment and incarceration, the vision of FCYO is even more urgent.
To date, FCYO, with its funding partners, have disbursed over $6.5 million dollars to the field of youth organizing, and has worked with over 75 foundations and youth organizing groups across the country to continue to build the field of youth organizing.