1. Tell us about your mission.
Thousand Currents is a 35-year-old global foundation that moves money to the frontlines of social change. We leverage relationships as well as financial and intellectual resources worldwide with and in support of grassroots groups and social movements, while transforming philanthropic and investment practices. Our vision imagines a world where humanity thrives as a creative force that is reciprocal and interdependent with nature, and creates loving, equitable and just societies.
Thousand Currents believes that the answers to the most entrenched societal challenges around the world rest in the hands of directly affected frontline communities. We raise money to fund those communities, which are organized as grassroots groups and social movements, working in the areas of climate, food, and economic justice. Currently, we support over 60 women and girls-, youth-, and Indigenous-led groups, alliances, and movements across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America with core, flexible, long-term grants and value-added services. We are a bridge builder that connects donors in the Global North with leaders and solutions in the Global South through relationships of solidarity, trust, and respect — not charity.
For 35 years, we have supported over 1,000 community initiatives in 40 countries, connected to over 200 million people worldwide, and moved nearly $20 million in grants.
2. How is The West Foundation supporting your mission?
Through our more than decade-long partnership, The West Foundation’s generous multi-year flexible grants have strengthened our grantmaking support to an ecosystem of organizations and movements led by women, Indigenous peoples, and youth working at the intersections of food sovereignty, economic, and climate justice. Thousand Currents stands in solidarity with these formal and informal formations across Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific region, providing resources to uplift their grassroots solutions and Indigenous wisdom.
The West Foundation’s multi-year, flexible grants have also allowed us to innovate, experiment, offer cutting-edge programs in donor education, launch one of the first participatory impact investing funds, and build our internal capacity to amplify the work of our Global South partners to Global North audiences in philanthropy and beyond.
3. Considering your impactful work to eliminate poverty, how is The West Foundation’s philanthropic support providing you with sustainability and mobility?
The West Foundation’s support enables us to take bold steps towards advancing our strategy and building our sustainability. Because of the support, we are able to explore ways in which we can deepen our alliance with grassroots groups and social movements. We can be both intentional and strategic in this critical moment and beyond, building a path for long-term transformative change for our partners and our peers in the philanthropic sector. We have also leveraged multi-year funding to attract new donors to maintain our fiscal sustainability and grow our grantmaking.
4. How are you realizing your potential?
Over the past year, Thousand Currents continued to expand our partnerships with alliances, networks, grassroots organizations, and movements across all three of our program regions, including adding new global/cross-regional partners to build an even stronger ecosystem of support. We supported over 60 different kinds of grassroots partners, movements, networks, alliances, strategic advocacy/litigation groups, community-centered think tanks, and policy groups last year. Led by Indigenous People, women, and young people, these partners are the center of our work. We are also building dialogue and interconnectedness with each partner, deepening narrative change work, and continuing to cultivate a learning community within our philanthropic advocacy and donor education program.
5. What’s one important thing you want others to know about your organization?
More than half the world’s population lives on rural agricultural land where prevailing patriarchal norms and systemic injustices continue to dispossess women and Indigenous peoples of land, rights, resources, and decision-making spaces despite their significant contribution to agricultural production, local economies, and climate change mitigation.
In response, a wave of Indigenous, youth, and women-led initiatives, movements, alliances, and grassroots groups are implementing feminist visions and other grassroots-led practices that are transforming the way we manage resources, maintain biodiversity, make policy decisions, implement innovative agricultural practices, reduce fossil fuel dependence, fight extractive industries, overcome gender violence, and feed the world.
Our partners remind us that now is the time to strengthen our support and solidarity for grassroots movements who are fighting for long-term and systemic change, while also doing the structural work needed to prevent the impact of crises exacerbated by a pandemic like COVID-19.
6. How can people reading this help you?
Thousand Currents is uniquely positioned to build dialogue, relationships, and interconnectedness between politically aligned groups, networks, and movements. West Foundation readers can help us by recognizing the difference between thinly veiled charitable giving versus authentic support that centers those who are closest to the problems in their communities.
By supporting Thousand Currents, you will enable us to increase our grant support to partners who will face long term impacts on food systems and livelihoods from the global COVID-19 pandemic, foster connections with like-minded movement groups, and influence the philanthropic sector to move towards more meaningful change. We know true transformation is possible, but that it will require an across-the-board reckoning. This change can start with you.