Over the past few years, the Dodge Foundation has been transforming – striving to center racial equity and justice in all aspects of our work. However, as we close 2023, the word ‘transformation’ no longer feels appropriate to describe where we are and how we got here. After spending the last few years listening and learning but also steadily moving our funding to support racial justice organizations, we are strongly anchored in our vision and mission. We set an ambitious goal at the beginning of this year – to move the majority of our funding to support racial justice organizations by the end of this year. We are thrilled to say that we not only met that goal, but we exceeded it. We now allocate more than 60 percent of our funding to support this work.
This past year, we focused on clarifying and adapting what we fund and how we fund. In January 2023, we shared our new program priorities that outlined the racial justice strategies and tactics that guide our work. As we aim to support organizations addressing the root cause and repair of structural racism, it was important for us to define the levers and systems-change work that we believe will transform our State. We know inequities compound and intersect in non-siloed or singular ways, so we focused our support on organizations and partners that work across issue areas and address the underlying issues that lead to racial inequity and injustice.
In May 2023, we launched our first-ever Open Call for racial justice organizations and identified ten new partners to support. Our goal was to create an open and accessible application process and connect with new organizations without prior access to the Dodge Foundation. Working together and alongside each other, these organizations strengthen civil society and build toward justice and equity in our State from all angles.
Through multiple grantmaking cycles over this year, we continued to Imagine a New Way, supporting 87 organizations working towards racial justice, including two new organizations that we’re announcing today:
- $50,0000 – The We the People Coalition supports nonpartisan program incubation, coalition building, organizing, leadership development, advocacy, and public education on policies that advance economic fairness, racial justice, gender equity, climate sustainability, and a democracy that is responsive to the many. The Coalition has mounted a multi-part power-building program, particularly in BIPOC communities, to support grassroots organizations in increasing nonpartisan civic action.
- $150,000 (over three years) – The New Jersey Asian American Coalition is a first-of-its-kind statewide initiative that organizes pan-Asian American leaders and groups to create a progressive network that realizes the power of collective action to advance multiracial equity, health, and justice through organizing, advocacy, policy research, education, and representation for New Jersey’s over one million Asian Americans.
- You can see the full list of all our grantees at our directory.
These organizations are working across the State, in every county and every community. Building these critical relationships has enabled meaningful progress towards justice and equity, and it also allowed us to continue to learn more about the social justice landscape in New Jersey.
As we enter 2024, we’re excited about what lies ahead. For us, that means a big move – a physical and literal big move. The Dodge Foundation has begun the process of moving its headquarters to Newark, New Jersey. For decades, Newark has been home to social and racial justice movements and immersing ourselves in the area will strengthen our understanding of and engagement in this work in New Jersey. This is an exciting opportunity for us to further align ourselves, internally and externally, in words and actions, with a more just and equitable New Jersey.
We are ending 2023 feeling truly anchored in our work because of all the incredible partners across our community. The racial justice organizations we have supported over the last few years have been true partners in shaping our strategy and direction – providing feedback, pushing us, and helping us learn every step of the way. We are so grateful to stand alongside these organizations. We will continue to evolve and grow – listening, learning, and adapting are hallmarks of our organization and culture – and we look forward to finding new and expansive opportunities to further align our funding with our vision.
While there is challenge, struggle, and heartbreak in this work, joy, partnership, and friendship also sustains us. We will take a breath at the end of 2023, and we hope you all will, too. Then, we will enter 2024 with resolve and dedication to deepen our work and the impact of those we support.
Tanuja Dehne is President & CEO of the Dodge Foundation where, alongside her team, she is leading the Foundation’s transformation into an anti-racist organization dedicated to realizing a just and equitable New Jersey.