January 9, 2024

2023 Highlights from MCF’s Work to Power Freedom

Dear Marguerite Casey Foundation Community,

Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful holiday surrounded by loved ones. As we step into 2024, I want to extend a warm thank you for helping MCF move our work forward. From our grant recipients and advisors to our board members and Freedom Scholars to those of you who take time out of your busy schedules to join the MCF Book Club and events, it’s powerful to be in this work alongside such a beloved community. 

I’m proud to share a few achievements from 2023 and invite you to watch some of them in the video below.

Sharpening Our Strategy

MCF’s mission hasn’t changed: we want the folks who have long been excluded from political power, economic opportunity, and freedom to finally have all they need to live a good life. While our mission remains unchanged, I'm proud to say that in 2023 we sharpened our grantmaking strategy to fund community organizing that changes how our government works for us. We are proud to support organizations led by working people who are creating real examples of multiracial power building to chart a new course forward for our country. MCF does this by providing unrestricted grants of up to 25 percent of an organization’s annual revenues for up to five years. 

It’s past time our government works for all of our communities. As a racial and economic justice funder, we are doubling down on our commitment to support work that is unlocking power and resources for all communities. We know these communities play a vital role in shaping how our government works and should get to share in society’s rewards and freedoms.

Empowering Racial Justice: Scaling, Funding, and Sustaining Change

Last year, we broke new ground with the MCF Book Club: Readings for a Liberated Future by funding the publishing of Our History Has Always Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies, which features excerpts from more than 50 essential readings in Black Studies plus six original essays. We brought together hundreds of MCF community members to honor Contraband’s release with a vibrant in-person event at Town Hall Seattle featuring two of the book’s visionary editors: the one and only Colin Kaepernick and MCF Freedom Scholar Robin D. G. Kelley.

For me, it is an absolute honor to be in conversation with organizers and scholars featured in the MCF Book Club and a privilege to help get their work into the hands of our communities.

In an effort to expand the MCF Book Club, we partnered with NationSwell for an exciting in-person MCF Book Club series in New York City. We kicked this partnership off with a launch event featuring the book Invisible No More: Voices from Native America, with Indigenous luminaries including Trisha Kehaulani Watson of Honua Consulting, Michael Roberts of First Nations Development Institute, and Heather Fleming of Change Labs. 

Against the backdrop of the rise in book bans and the assault on the freedom to learn, we brought people together to discuss additional incredible books such as:

I am proud to say that in addition to hosting these events, our book club shared more than 5,500 copies of these outstanding books. The year 2023 showed us yet again that people are hungry for ideas that demonstrate what achieving racial and economic justice look and feel like. We wholeheartedly stand behind those who are writing books and developing ideas that center on collective freedom and well-being.

We know that our role as a funder is to move the most money possible to the organizations and leaders who are building a future where safety means housing for all, freedom entails access to diverse ideas, and government means prioritizing its main responsibility: supporting people. However, philanthropy cannot fully replace governmental functions and does not have the resources to do so. But we do have the resources to help level the playing field for everyday people and to fight for a government that ensures access to adequate housing, excellent education, high-quality jobs, and freedom from violence and exploitation.

MCF fulfills this responsibility by funding power-building organizations and initiatives and by calling on our philanthropic community to recommit to resourcing racial justice work. Last year, MCF board members Stacey Abrams and Julián Castro published this powerful op-ed calling on philanthropy to increase racial justice funding. I was honored to amplify the importance of racial justice funding at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City in September and to publish an article in Nonprofit Quarterly calling on philanthropy to fund efforts to shift public dollars out of policing and prisons and into initiatives that support the public good.

At every opportunity, MCF, with the full support of our board, has taken bold steps toward aligning our investments with our mission. In March, we announced our goal of having more than 50% of our endowment overseen by diverse managers by the end of 2025. Today, I am proud to say that we are well on track to achieve this goal, ending 2023 with more than 25% of our portfolio managed by diverse managers. We also raised the bar for how MCF defines a diverse manager: a diverse manager is an asset manager that is at least 51% owned, controlled, or operated by members of a historically underrepresented racial group in the investment industry.

Reimagining the Future, Together

MCF’s work is unfolding alongside our grant recipients and investment partners who are working to transform this country. Looking ahead, I’m excited to continue to grow this work with all of you. I am so grateful for your continued support as we build a better future together, and I look forward to seeing you in 2024.

For inquiries, contact info@caseygrants.org.

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