Heartland Fund Launches with First Round of Grants
Collaborative effort seeks to build a just, sustainable, and equitable future for the Midwest
(Chicago, Illinois) – The Heartland Fund, a new donor collaborative, today announced its first round of grants, giving $500,000 to a portfolio of nine groups, all focused on supporting grassroots and regional efforts to build the power of vulnerable and historically marginalized communities. According to the fund’s spokespeople, this is the beginning of a broad collective effort to develop stronger and more connected civic infrastructure in the region.
“The Heartland Fund will empower diverse local leaders to organize and mobilize their communities around the issues that are most important to them, as well as connect with broader regional and national allies and movements,” said Ryan Strode of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, one of Heartland’s founding partners. “We’re thrilled to begin the grant-making portion of our work.”
“The Heartland Fund will help us carry forward the legacy of Henry A. Wallace, who called the Midwest home and was dedicated to supporting a vibrant rural America,” noted Allison Barlow, Democracy Program Director at the Wallace Global Fund.
“Heartland will fund locally rooted organizations and networks to promote social, environmental, and economic common cause across racial and urban/rural divides in the Midwest,” added Scott Nielsen of Arabella Advisors, another of the founding partners.
The fund’s mission is threefold:
- Advance an equitable, inclusive, and prosperous regional economy that works for everyone
- Ensure everyone has access to clean air, water, and land
- Strengthen the health and resilience of Midwestern communities
Along with the announcement of its grants, the Heartland Fund released a video on the work of one of its initial grantees: the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC). Watch the video here. “The work of groups like MRCC inspires us,” Nielsen noted. “And we wanted to share it via video as well as support it through grants.”
Partners in the Heartland Fund effort include the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, the Wallace Global Fund, the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, and Arabella Advisors. Heartland is currently hosted at the Windward Fund, a nonprofit designed to incubate initiatives pursuing bold solutions to environmental challenges.
The Heartland Fund’s first round of grants went to the following nine organizations:
- Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy: The Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy (CEED) is dedicated to bringing justice to energy and environmental sustainability, ensuring that all members of society have the right to participate in energy and environmental decisions that impact their health and livelihoods. CEED provides support for community organizing and education, energy and environmental policy analysis with an equity lens, and local and regional network building.
- Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement: Iowa CCI works to empower and unite grassroots people of all races in Iowa to participate in democracy and hold institutions accountable to everyday people. Iowa CCI equips grassroots Iowans the skills and resources they need to share their stories, influence local and state policies, and wean a clean energy Iowa that works for everyone.
- Land Stewardship Project: Land Stewardship Project organizes rural people across Minnesota to advocate for widespread ownership of the land, racial justice, and people power over corporate control of the economy and politics. LSP is advancing a new public narrative about land, community, democracy, justice, and a shared prosperity; and advancing campaigns to win health care reform, stop corporate-backed factory farm expansion, support new and beginning farmers, build soil health and stabilize climate, and expand local/regional family farm-raised foods in schools and other institutions.
- Little Village Environmental Justice Organization: LVEJOA organizes the community to accomplish environmental justice in Chicago and achieve the self-determination of immigrant, low-income, and working-class families. LVEJO works to build a sustainable community that promotes the healthy development of youth and families, provides economic justice, and practices participatory democracy.
- Missouri Rural Crisis Center: MRCC is working, both organizationally and within coalitions and collaborations (both urban and rural), to build power and engage a growing number of Missourians in the fight for democracy. MRCC is organizing on the issues that matter to rural people and that make a difference in their lives and communities (specifically rural white voters and intentionally moving the narrative from one of separation and hate to a narrative based upon values of inclusion and democracy), such as family farms vs. factory farms, clean water, corporate control, access to good food, rural healthcare, etc.
- MOVE Coalition: MOVE is working with Black and rural organizing groups across the state of Missouri to win proactive economic and racial justice victories and policies. With MOVE support, Black and rural organizing institutions are building integrated voter engagement programs with intentional intersections of space and strategy that bring staff and leadership teams together to advance democracy in Missouri.
- Midwest Environmental Justice Network: Midwest Environmental Justice Network (MWEJN) focuses on building the capacity of grassroots organizations and indigenous groups to lead environmental justice (EJ) initiatives related to water, health, energy and climate change. In addition to supporting and coordinating regional efforts, MWEJN works to increase the funds and resources available to groups addressing environmental justice issues across midwestern states.
- We the People Michigan: We the People is working to build multi-racial working class alliances across the state of Michigan to build proactive vision that recognizes a linked fate across different communities and contend for state power over time. We the People is 1) building rigorous and disciplined organizing capacity in communities across the state, 2) developing a strong proactive narrative and People’s Agenda that is rooted in communities, and 3) uniting Michiganders across identities and geographies engaging people to build toward economic and racial justice.
- Western Native Voice Project: is building a grassroots base of concerned citizens directly involved in working for stewardship and conservation of the land, water and energy resources, family farms and sustainable agriculture and civic engagement. Western Native Voice’s Civic Engagement Program is organizing communities to mobilize the Native vote and stay engaged beyond the ballot box. Western Native Voice is expanding its successful civic engagement model beyond Montana and begin to build civic engagement and leadership programs in other states with a significant Native population in the Midwest, starting with North Dakota.
Media inquiries about the Heartland Fund should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funders interested in learning more about Heartland’s collaborative work should contact email@example.com.
About the Franciscan Sisters of Mary
The Franciscan Sisters of Mary are committed to compassionate care for Creation, by supporting grassroots movements for environmental justice, climate action, forest protection, and sustainable agriculture across the globe.
About the Wallace Global Fund
The mission of the Wallace Global Fund is to promote an informed and engaged citizenry, to fight injustice, and to protect the diversity of nature and the natural systems upon which all life depends. This mission draws from the rich legacy of founder Henry A. Wallace, who served as Vice-President of the United States from 1941 to 1944 and ran for President in 1948. Wallace, a son of Iowa, was also Secretary of Agriculture during the Roosevelt Administration and was the architect of many of the New Deal programs that supported rural communities throughout much of the 20th century.
About the Windward Fund
As a 501(c)(3) public charity, the Windward Fund incubates and hosts initiatives pursuing bold solutions to environmental challenges. Windward’s platform allows donors to convene and collaborate on these issues, leveraging the work of other interrelated projects housed at the fund to strengthen their efforts and advance the field. Windward provides strategic support, guidance on best practices, expertise on operational efficiencies, and specialized compliance knowledge to hosted projects.
About Arabella Advisors
Arabella Advisors is a social enterprise that helps people and organizations with ambitious philanthropic goals move from idea to implementation to impact. Founded in 2005, Arabella works with a wide range of philanthropists, foundations, and investors, providing strategic guidance and professional support services that enable them to use their resources for good. Along with a handful of select nonprofit partners, including the Windward Fund, Arabella helps to develop and manage dozens of large-scale collaborative philanthropic efforts across the United States and around the world.