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The New Majority Fund

The New Majority Fund at The New World Foundation is a Donor collaborative, launched in 2002 to invest in building a progressive new majority for America—a majority sustained by voters who are engaged in civic organizing and motivated by values of social equity and justice.

We have seen such majorities in our history, when the industrial labor movement fueled the New Deal, and when the civil rights movement fueled the Great Society. We have also seen such moments undone.

The New Majority Fund seeks to help to reverse that demobilization and rebuild a movement for social justice that recaptures the momentum of ordinary people, mobilized and organized on their own behalf, once again tipping the balance of the electorate to progressive outcomes.

The New Majority Fund supports our grantees to:

  • Expand the electorate by engaging the least enfranchised in working class and people of color communities, especially youth, in ongoing action to determine government priorities.
  • Forge alliances across race, class, and gender lines—connecting labor with communities, inner cities with suburbs, congregations with social causes
  • Design policy agendas that will re-direct public resources to support human needs, sustain the environment and enrich democratic culture.
  • Link local activism to political power by creating leadership streams for public office and participatory government practice.
  • Grow in scope and scale to influence the broader political climate and reshape government at the municipal, county and state levels.
  • Achieve national impact by connecting progressive organizing across states and sectors—through peer networks, shared models, and common campaigns—that bring national resources to local needs and problems.

We aim for lasting impact and measure real progress by how many people stay organized after elections to press for access to policy decisions, accountability from elected officials, and very different priorities from a new administration.

These hard and uncertain times open up great possibilities—for surmounting racial divides, for serious economic reform, for global climate cooperation, for deflated militarism, and above all, for raising popular expectations of government. These times also increase the dangers: polarization between rich and poor, backlash by deeply vested interests, and failure to function from a federal government stripped of competence and capacity by decades of war and corporate greed.

For democratic renewal to grow in the midst of economic crisis, bottom-up pressures must multiply and establish a sustainable presence in American political life. To us, this means a philanthropic sector responsibility to support the expansion of community organizing, civic alliances and social movement building.

With the New Majority Fund, we are committed to a long term program that combines breadth and depth. Our broad focus is civic organizing within metro regions, the political economies that move city and state governments, where compelling models for change at the national level are already being generated.

Currently, we are funding this work in metro areas in 12 states. We also support several cross-county efforts in more rural states. We support a diverse array of organizations that link core constituencies: union members, the newest immigrants, African-American, Latino and Asian Pacific communities, religious congregations, social service providers, civil rights and civil liberties advocates, and environmental justice groups.

In each metro area and state, the particular constellation is unique, yet it adds up to a growing web of independent, politically engaged coalitions that are capable of setting municipal and state policy agendas around critical issues: community benefits, tax policy, land use, energy conversion, public transit, green job creation, health care access, and more.

In several states, where we see great promise to structurally undo the legacies of the Bush-Reagan era, we are going deeper. This means concentrating New World Foundation staffing and donor funding on increasing the density of civic organizing across all sectors, with progressive state policy goals and continuous voter engagement activity.

While other funds in New World’s program address the needs of immigrant workers, the environment, young leadership, sustainable funding, and the arts, the heart of the New Majority Fund is supporting networks of engaged citizens and activists to demand good government and social justice. From our point of view, this is democracy’s best defense and best offense, in any political season.

For more information, please contact Colin Greer.

Our thinking is described in even more detail here: Assessing Social Justice Paths to Power

New World's pamphlet "Building the New Majority" (2005) is available for download in English or Spanish below. Please contact us to receive a hard copy by post.

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