It’s been a year since we published Making Social Change: Case Studies of Nonprofit Service Providers which featured five human service organizations that are integrating social change activities into their work. The stories highlighted the tremendous strides that these groups have made towards transforming their organizations and their communities but also noted the associated challenges of taking on a social change agenda, including securing funds for these ongoing initiatives. In light of this, the recent announcement that one of the featured organizations, Somos Mayfair, has been awarded over $1 million in funding for both their service and their civic engagement work brings hope and encouragement to human service providers interested in this approach.
While it is recognized and necessary to provide for the immediate needs of the community, Somos Mayfair makes it a priority to build leadership and create long term change. FIRST 5 Santa Clara County awarded Somos Mayfair $945,000 over three years as part of their initiative to prepare every child for success in school, and help every parent support their child. Additionally, the group received a $180,000 three-year grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to expand immigrant civic participation through their Popular Theater program. Now in its sixth year, the theater program is one of the main pillars of Somos’ community engagement work and is instrumental in helping to transform community members from actors on the stage to actors in their community. Through the theater, community members develop social and cultural bonds which help establish the shared values and mutual trust necessary for working together for social change.
The organization’s success in fundraising is a result of their strong investment in the people of Mayfair through their service provision and their community engagement initiatives both of which serve to build trust between the organization and its constituents. Funders who see the transformative impact that this work has had on the community and its members want to invest and be a part of that success.
“The purpose of our work is to create a community where residents of Mayfair can lead the changes needed. We build leadership. It is the core of who we are. We also recognize that services only address immediate needs so we work with our community members and allies creativity to make long term structural changes,” Associate Director of Somos Mayfair, Rebecca Bauen said.
According to Civic Action Program Director Evelyn Sanchez, “Somos Mayfair has such a strong relationship with the community which allows us to be capable of strong grassroots work.”
With a few sources of long-term funding guaranteed, Somos Mayfair has many ideas in mind for how to further engage the people of Mayfair including a continued pursuit of community work and civic action.
“What we’re doing is building the possibility for the community to take care of itself, regardless of whether Somos Mayfair is there or not. Our sight is on the community and not on the institution,” Bauen said.