The Alliance for Early Success is changing the way it invests in state advocacy organizations by moving to core operating support grants, maximizing the flexibility of the funds to further the grantee’s birth-through-eight policy-advocacy work. State applicants will no longer submit grant budgets or a list of project deliverables.
“The Alliance values the track record, commitment, political landscape knowledge, and instinct of our state grantees,” said Helene Stebbins, Executive Director of the Alliance, “and we trust them to deploy our resources where there’s the most opportunity for impact.”
Another motivation for shifting to core operating grants is to operationalize the Alliance’s equity goals. This new direction reduces the need for grant-writing skills, shifting the emphasis to doing the work. “We believe these changes make our grants more accessible to more organizations,” Stebbins said. “Core operating granting for state advocacy is foundational to our – and our grantees’ – work to expand coalitions and share power more equitably.”
The grantee will annually submit its policy agenda and legislative accomplishments, and – throughout the rest of the year — work with the Alliance to ensure they are making plans and progress in the three pillars of the Alliance’s theory of change: accelerating legislative and administrative advocacy, elevating antiracism strategies, and promoting equitable state coalitions and power sharing.
Alliance grantees are also looking forward to the flexibility and freed capacity that comes with core operating grants. “While our long-term vision is grounded by a strong mission and values, our policy priorities often need to shift based on the legislative landscape,” said Adrienne Olejnik, vice president of Alliance grantee Kansas Action for Children. “The changes the Alliance has made in their grantmaking processes are responsive and help their trusted and proven core partners to do their best work. The Alliance is leading the way in national network philanthropy through these changes.”
The Alliance’s Board of Directors unanimously supported the change in its most recent board meeting, and the new streamlined requirements will go into effect for the coming grant cycle. The Alliance had already begun to move in this direction with the recent implementation of oral grant reports.
“The Alliance is thinking deeply and strategically about racial equity in all that it does,” said Michael Laracy, retired director of policy reform and advocacy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Alliance’s incoming board chair. “It’s exciting to see this latest development in their work to operationalize that commitment.”