Celebrating Growth and Impact - Common Counsel Foundation

At the end of 2013, Common Counsel Foundation announced its largest grantmaking year in its 25 year history. In total, CCF disbursed 311 grants and PRI’s to grassroots organizations in 37 states and the District of Columbia, totaling nearly $3 million, an increase of 15% from 2012.


The Foundation increased the total funds disbursed by growing its base of client foundations, donor advised funds, and collaborative grants initiatives. CCF partnered with Native Americans in Philanthropy to launch Native Voices Rising, a research and re-granting program that provided 32 Native-led organizations with $216,000.



Common Counsel Foundation and its member funds support dynamic frontline organizations that are building leadership and power in low-income communities and communities of color in order to advance real change. Grantees won a set of groundbreaking victories over the last year, a few of which are highlighted in this edition of CCF News:

  • Reducing immigrant detentions and deportations in Portland, OR
  • Just Transition victory for Hopi and Navajo communities in AZ
  • California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights Victory
  • Reducing Police/ICE collaboration in San Francisco and Statewide in CA
  • Reducing barriers to employment for those with a criminal record in CA



In Portland, Oregon, the Voz Worker’s Rights Education Project in collaboration with the ACT Network, won a campaign based on several years of organizing and advocacy when the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to prevent local law enforcement from detaining anyone for reasons relating to their immigration status, in most cases. Ultimately, this victory means that far fewer individuals and their families will be detained or deported.


In 2013 the Black Mesa Water Coalition announced a precedent-setting victory, that builds on a 2005 victory that garnered national headlines when the organization helped shut down a power plant and coal mine that generated greenhouse gases and toxic pollution. Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission decided to create a renewable energy revolving fund from the revenues that will come from the sales of pollution credits from the decommissioned power plant. This means that millions of dollars will be available to help finance renewable energy projects that will benefit the very Hopi and Navajo communities that had long-endured the harmful impacts of the power plant. Black Mesa Water Coalition hopes that this victory will create sustainable economic opportunity and help transition the economies of the region away from coal and other fossil fuel industries.


Immigrant-led community organizations and their allies in California led successful campaigns for the passage (and signing into law) of the San Francisco Due Process for All Ordinance, the California Trust Act (AB 4), the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (AB 241), and what has become known as the California Ban the Box legislation (AB 218). Each of these victories is the culmination of many years of strategic organizing, leadership development, alliance building, and advocacy.


Common Counsel Foundation and our partners have supported six of the 15 domestic worker organizations in the California Domestic Workers Coalition that worked together for seven years to pass the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. These organizations collectively engaged more than 1,200 domestic workers in statewide advocacy and provided leadership training to 150 domestic worker leaders in the last two years alone. Domestic worker organizations across the state have demonstrated the power of organizing, and that working together, domestic workers can assert their rights, power, and dignity, and they can win! As a result, California’s estimated 200,000 domestic workers will now earn daily overtime pay, which other workers have been entitled to since 1938. This is just the first step in a long-term policy strategy. All of these organizations will now be working to leverage the capacity that they have built to ensure the effective implementation of the law and continue pushing for full worker rights and protections for domestic workers.


The San Francisco Due Process for All Ordinance is an important immigrant rights precedent that was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors. Causa Justa : Just Cause, Chinese Progressive Association, Communities United Against Violence, and Mujeres Unidas y Activas were among the many organizations leading this effort. The new law is a response to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Secure Communities program that has been responsible for significant increases in immigrant detentions and deportations. The Due Process for All Ordinance now prohibits local authorities from detaining an individual at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The California Trust Act is a parallel law that was passed at the state level. The Asian Law Caucus estimates that the Trust Act will result in up to 20,000 fewer deportations in California.


Legal Services for Prisoners With Children and All of Us Or None were leading organizations in the campaign to pass AB 218, the California Ban The Box legislation. This law will reduce barriers to employment for people with prior criminal records by requiring state and local governments to remove questions about a person’s conviction history from employment applications.


This is just a sampling of the many exciting victories achieved by our grant partners over the last year. These victories will result in tangible benefits for millions of people. We are honored to support this important work and in 2014 we will be working hard to continue expanding Common Counsel’s collaborative growth and impact.


The Common Counsel Team would like to thank each of our client foundations, donors and funding partners for helping make this year’s growth possible, and for their longstanding dedication to supporting powerful community organizations across the country.


Sincerely, Laura Livoti, Layla Cooper, and Luke Newton