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The role of media festivals in strengthening independent media

August 28, 2023

Festivals taking place across the Global South are attracting increasingly global attendees. This brief discussion paper looks at four diverse examples of such festivals – Media Party in Argentina, Festival 3i in Brazil, Splice Beta in Thailand, and the Africa Media Festival in Kenya – and seeks to develop preliminary hypotheses about the nature of these events, what distinguishes them from other events in the independent media ecosystem, what they hope to achieve, and how they are evolving.It also seeks to discern patterns or learnings emerging from these festivals that suggest practical recommendations for those running, setting up or supporting such events in the future, and includes concrete examples of practices that other practitioners can learn or adapt from. We also explore the role of media festivals in the resilience of local regional and global digital native ecosystems.The report has been authored by independent consultant Sameer Padania, who was an active participant in all four festivals featured, as part of a consultancy project for International Media Support, funded by the Ford Foundation. He was a judge for a pitch session and ran one workshop at Media Party, gave three clinics and one workshop at Splice Beta, co-ran one workshop and co-moderated a donors' meeting at the Africa Media Festival, and spoke on a panel at Festival 3i. The report also draws on inputs from IMS programme managers and partners.

Regulation and Repression of Civil Society through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendation 8: How a Restrictive Interpretation Limits Civil Society Contributions to Development in Africa

June 6, 2023

The contributions of civil society through development initiatives have been instrumental in addressing various socio-economic challenges societies face. For instance, there is evidence that community-based intervention packages have had a substantial impact on child and new-born mortality in Mozambique. On the political front, in Senegal, civil society initiatives contributed to the 'downfall of former president Abdoulaye Wade, his son and heir apparent, Karim Wade, and a number of formerly powerful members of his government' who were accused of corruption. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have also filled the gaps left by governments' failures to deliver reliable and efficient public services and address some of the challenges faced in communities. Efforts to shrink civic space by policing the work of civil society organisations has primarily been premised on governments' efforts to evade being held accountable.This has taken different forms, the most common being distorting the narrative on the agenda of civil society organisations. CSOs are negatively labelled as being rooted in interfering with politics and enforcing political ideations of Western institutions which make up much of the sources of funding for civil society activities. CSOs have constantly faced backlash and in the most recent past, there has been instrumentalisation of counter-terrorist and anti-money laundering laws and regulations. The framework of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations is often the basis of these broad and vague laws that give governments extensive powers to investigate and prosecute suspects and also infringe on the rights of critics. Although terrorist activities around the world including in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Kenya, Mali and Pakistan to mention a few give cause for concern, there are some governments that have put in place measures where there is no threat or real risk of terrorism. As a result, these measures are a tool used to silence and stifle fundamental freedoms including for journalists and other civil society actors.

The State of Women and Girls with Disabilities in New York

May 9, 2023

This landscape analysis focuses on existing and emerging disability justice and inclusion efforts at the intersections of gender and racial justice across New York City and State, and areas for funding that would support the work of disability justice leaders and advocates.In alignment with The Foundation's mission and values, the final report of findings includes an overview of organizations leading this critical work, a spotlight on community-based leadership moving this agenda forward, and information on emerging groups supporting gender and economic equity by and for people with disabilities.

Beyond Neutrality: Navigating challenges and leveraging opportunities of staff unionization in social change nonprofits

February 28, 2023

Union organizing campaigns at Starbucks and Amazon have been making headlines, but there is another, less publicized increase in unionization that has broad implications for social change: Employees of social justice nonprofit organizations have been unionizing in record numbers.While very few organizations in this sector were unionized ten years ago, it is now considered commonplace for groups like Planned Parenthood, Working Families Party, and Sunrise to have collective bargaining agreements with their staff.This crucial development has the potential to reshape the relationship between nonprofit workers, leaders, and organizations in a sector seeking new approaches to workplace democracy, organizational equity, and justice. It also has the potential to help seed a resurgent and more progressive labor movement in this country— historically a bedrock for social change movements.This is a moment of opportunity for organizational leaders to go beyond neutrality and partner with their staff to transform the work environment and fuel mission impact. However, pain points and dissonance have emerged from these efforts, revealing gaps in information, resources, support, and preparation for both employers and unions.

Bending Art and Culture Towards Justice: The Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression Arts and Culture Program Investments in Diverse Creative Communities

December 12, 2022

What lessons can we learn about how change happens for arts organizations and networks that center People of Color and disabled artists, cultural producers, and executive leaders, especially those who have been further marginalized by sexism, heterosexism and xenophobia? What is the influence of a $230 million investment in their stability, their ability to expand their base of support and their lasting impact on the artists whose voices and cultural contributions they lift up?The Ford Foundation's Creativity and Free Expression Arts and Culture (CFE A&C) strategy discussion began in the Fall of 2015 and targeted goals of shifting "entrenched cultural narratives" that were embedded in and driving cultural norms. The early theory of change was to actually expand the scope of mainstream ideals to include content by underrepresented creators – shifting their status from the margins into the realm of being visible and seen in the mainstream. The 'margins to the mainstream' strategy has evolved over time to center the empowerment of People of Color creators and those with disabilities. The construct of 'mainstream ideals' has shifted from including content by these artists as part of the mainstream to influencing who has voice and who is widely recognized and valued as the mainstream.This report, based on research conducted from December 2021 to April 2022, summarizes key observations and strategic considerations from an in-depth evaluation of the strategy implemented by the Ford Foundation to support CFE A&C grantees, a strategy set in motion pre-pandemic. The purpose of Ford's evaluations is not focused on holding individual grantees accountable for complex social change outcomes, and instead seeks to prioritize learning; and, more specifically, to learn about how change happens and share lessons externally. Part of that learning centers not only on whether current approaches are having the desired impact, but also on whether modifications to the approaches or other internal factors might yield even greater impact.

Financing Digital Public Infrastructure Approaches to Sustain Digital Transformation

December 8, 2022

Digital public infrastructure (DPI) can support better people-centered outcomes, but for the emerging field to live up to its promise, there must be a clear path to sustainable financing. Mounting evidence shows that DPI systems can transform the delivery of services across the public and private sectors by enabling identity verification, digital payments, data sharing, and other essential, society-wide functions. Global leaders across many sectors are assessing how to pursue DPI collaboratively, safely, and effectively, given the long-term implications for the health and vibrancy of societies. This report maps existing DPI funding models and examines the challenges underlying sustainable financing approaches. It concludes with recommendations for improved collaboration across the ecosystem to develop and scale open DPI. Most importantly, financing architecture that aligns the resources and incentives of key governmental, private-sector, philanthropic, and multilateral organizations can be a driving force for inclusive digital transformation.

Creativity & Free Expression Journalism Program Evaluation: 2016-2021

December 7, 2022

Since its launch in 2015, the Ford Foundation's Creativity and Free Expression (CFE) program has worked collaboratively to invest in creative organizations and storytellers shaping a more inclusive, just world across three areas of focus: Arts and Culture, Journalism, and documentary filmmaking through its JustFilms initiative. To assess impact and alignment with the changing needs of the field, the foundation is conducting a series of evaluations around each area of focus under the CFE program. This evaluation report on the CFE journalism strategy, distributed by Impact Architects, is one in a series of three evaluations to explore how arts and creative sectors can address inequality and advance justice.

Trends in Correctional Control by Race and Sex

December 6, 2022

American prison populations have long been characterized by racial and ethnic disparities. U.S. Census Bureau data on incarcerated persons from 1870 through 1980 show that black incarceration rates ranged from three to nine times those of whites, depending upon the decade and region of the country.In recent years, racial disparities in imprisonment have decreased. This Council on Criminal Justice report updates and advances earlier presentations of data on disparities.

Challenges in Moving Toward a More Inclusive Democracy: Findings from the 2022 American Values Survey

October 27, 2022

Approximately three-quarters of Americans agree that the country is heading in the wrong direction, but there is considerable division over whether the country needs to move backward — toward an idealized, homogeneous past — or forward, toward a more diverse future. Though most Americans favor moving forward, a sizable minority yearn for a country reminiscent of the 1950s, embrace the idea that God created America to be a new promised land for European Christians, view newcomers as a threat to American culture, and believe that society has become too soft and feminine. This minority is composed primarily of self-identified Republicans, white evangelical Protestants, and white Americans without a college degree. The majority of Americans, however, especially younger Americans, the religiously unaffiliated, and Democrats, are more likely to embrace a competing vision for the future of America that is more inclusive.

Louisiana Children Health Uninsured Rates Census 2019

October 17, 2022

This report provides trend data on uninsured health rates among children in Louisiana and compares it to the nation. It highlights how the nation is losing ground in this area and makes initial recommendations on how this trend might be reversed.

Advancing Foundation Archives: Advocacy, Strategies, and Solutions - Proceedings from the June 12, 2019 Meeting

October 12, 2022

Organized in collaboration with our partners the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, the Advancing Foundation Archives Conference held on June 12, 2019m at the Ford Foundation headquarters in New York City was the first convening in nearly three decades to address the importance of managing, preserving, and providing access to foundation records and archives.The meeting brought together archivists, grants managers, foundation leaders, information specialists, historians, legal experts, and many others to share ideas, practices, and resources. Most importantly, its goal was to build a community of archives advocates confronting a new and daunting challenge – how to collect, preserve, and provide access to the rising tide of born-digital records created by foundations.The information professionals and foundation staff who gathered in New York in June 2019 shared the belief that creating, preserving, and providing access to foundation records are critical activities, whether they are done to provide access only to staff or to external researchers as well.Though more than one hundred people attended the 2019 Advancing Foundation Archives Conference, the organizers realized that many more could benefit from a resource that captures key learnings. To present the meeting in text form, the editors of the new Proceedings publication have condensed one hundred pages of transcripts, fleshed out concepts where needed, and gathered additional resources  into the following sections:Perspectives of Foundation Stakeholders describes how stakeholders in foundations engage (or do not engage) with the archives. This includes board members and foundation executive leaders, but also staff across the foundation who often are the most prolific record creators. Motivating Issues and Events examines some of the scenarios that often give rise to the idea of building an archive – a major anniversary, a retiring board chair, a litigation threat – how attendees wrestled with those ideas, and where they turned for help. Records Management and Archives discusses information management, from documents, to email, to audio and video files, to data sets, and how information managers are building infrastructure to handle the tidal wave of digital files.Internal Access and Storytelling explores how describing and applying metadata to records can help staff more easily find and use the archives to inform their work.Public Access and Storytelling describes how foundations make their history accessible to the public, from exhibits, to published histories, to transitioning archives to an external repository.  

Justice System Disparities: Black-White National Imprisonment Trends, 2000 to 2020

September 14, 2022

Although significant gaps remain, disparities between Black and White people continued to narrow at nearly every stage of the criminal justice process between 2016 and 2020. In some cases, the pace of the decline slowed; in others, the disparity gap closed entirely.These trends extend patterns from 2000 to 2016 that were identified in CCJ's first report on correctional control by race and sex. Subsequent reports will explore trends in disparity among female populations and by ethnicity, assess trends in multiple states, and seek to identify what, if any, policy changes may have contributed to reductions in racial disparities.