Our Work

35 years of supporting social justice movements

We are a national social justice organization, not defined or contained by geographic bounds. We advise, provide fiscal sponsorships and build operational capacity for movement organizations, and are home to multi-funder collaborative initiatives.

The system

An inequitable distribution of power has exacerbated systems of oppression and their resulting impacts. Our communities, our society and our planet are facing an unprecedented array of social, economic & ecological crises. We exist to change this.

Our Approach

This is our strategy to support the long-term change necessary to restore the human dignity and wellbeing of our people. Through intensive investment in power-building and leadership development, we focus on aligning and mobilizing support for social justice movements.

Build trust and nurture relationships

with grassroots organizing groups and leaders on the frontlines of social justice movements, as well as individuals, families and foundations that want to make a difference.

Partner to aligning resources to support people-powered movements

for social justice. Common Counsel Foundation believes that society’s issues intersect and impact one another, and so rather than have pre-determined program areas, we align our funding priorities with movement since they are closest to the ground.

Cultivate philanthropic practices

that cede power to a strong movement ecosystem. We listen to movement partners, learn and adapt our processes and investments based on what we hear

Ultimately, we hope our efforts will:

  • Increase resources going towards community organizing and other movement-aligned efforts.
  • Spread innovative grantmaking practices that provide greater movement and community control over grantmaking resources.
  • Support transformative social change in the form of system, policy, narrative, and other forms of social change victories.

How we partner

We work with likeminded funders and donors who keep community priorities at the forefront

Why us

Benefits of partnering with Common Counsel Foundation

We are trusted by movement leaders


We benefit from deep connection and trust with community leaders who share insights and priorities about the work and context on the ground. As philanthropic advisors, we can connect what we learn from movement partners with the families and people who entrust us to advise their giving.

We have been engaged in social movement work for 35 years


In recent years, we’ve seen uprisings and social movements pushing for systemic change. As many foundations join the work to support movement, CCF has more than three decades of  experience in this work to offer guidance and best practices to support grassroots and movement partners. We promote strategic social justice philanthropy and our granting criteria distinguish the differences between charity and transformation.

We work with a range of stakeholders to achieve our mission


We advise family foundations on their giving, advise donors with funds that are held at CCF, provide fiscal sponsorships and build operational capacity for movement organizations, and are home to multi-funder collaborative initiatives. We welcome more partners to join us.

The depth of expertise and experience of our team


The collective experience of our team combines on-the-ground work in community organizations with philanthropic expertise. Our staff and board have extensive professional knowledge and the nuance of lived experience with the issues that we engage in. We bring deep commitment and personal connection to the work, providing a richer analysis and context to our advising.

The beauty of working with Common Counsel is that the staff manages to serve the interests of all three generations of our family. They have helped us to design a grantmaking program that reflects both the common values and our unique concerns. Common Counsel connects us to each organization we fund through excellent research and first-hand reports from site visits. It also gratifies us to know that through collaboration with other members of the Foundation, we can often reach organizations that wouldn’t be possible if we stood alone.

Abelard Foundation Trustee
Lincoln, MA


2023 Annual Report: Advancing Community-Led Change
We are proud to share highlights of the powerful work of our community partners and how donors and funders are mobilizing to support their vision.
Announcing the New Blended Field Leader-Funder Governance to Guide Fund for an Inclusive California’s Next Phase
Native Voices Rising Announces $3.5 Million to Native-Led Organizing and Advocacy
Native Voices Rising is honored to announce $3.5 million in grants including its inaugural batch of multi-year awards to Indigenous and Native-led advocacy and organizing groups.
With a Power-Building Approach to Housing in California, a Pooled Fund Evolves and Expands
Inside Philanthropy covers new grants, new strategies, and co-led governance structure at the helm of the next phase of the Fund for an Inclusive California.
Common Counsel Foundation Welcomes Chandra Alexandre to its Board of Directors
An accomplished leader with over 25 years of experience working for social change and equity in the nonprofit sector.
F4ICA Announces First Round of $1.7 Million in Grants in New Community-Designed Five-Year Phase
These grants signify the launch of the Fund’s next phase, focused on growing interconnected organizing efforts in California toward permanently affordable housing.
F4ICA Fall Digest: Inland Region wins against discriminatory ordinance and CLTs in the news
A bi-monthly digest of F4ICA partners and priorities. Big steps in CLT adoption nation-wide, and wins at home against “crime-free” housing California’s Inland Region.
Getting to know Sangeeta Chowdhry: Our New Executive Director’s First 30 Days
We are thrilled to welcome our new Executive Director, Sangeeta Chowdhry. In this post, Sangeeta shares about the values and questions that drive her work – and what is ahead at CCF!
Our New Logo and Brand: Raising our banner for social justice
Our new logo and brand illustrate our commitment, affirmatively raising our banner in alignment with social justice movements organizing for justice.
Common Counsel Foundation Announces Sangeeta Chowdhry as New Executive Director
We are thrilled to welcome Sangeeta as our new executive director, bringing her exceptional experience as a strategic leader with deeply held social justice values to the justice and equity issues we work on with partners every day.
Candid: Community Ownership for Community Power Fund announces launch
Candid shares the news of the Community Ownership for Community Power Fund launch, new initiative to support the California community ownership ecosystem.
Announcing New Community Ownership for Community Power Fund
The partnership is our newest effort to support the robust ecosystem of community ownership groups in California and putting them at the center of decision-making for land ownership and stewardship.
CCF’s Grantmaking for Social Justice in 2022
In a year of big planning and doing, Common Counsel Foundation made $32 million in grants and continues to grow our community of partners.
GXF Spotlight: Black Femme Fund
CCF Board Member Spotlight: Vanessa Daniel
For the last four years, the Common Counsel Foundation has been privileged to have the leadership of Vanessa Daniel as part of our board. A longtime activist, organizer, and funder of social movements, read on to hear Vanessa’s story and her perspectives on CCF’s journey.
Susan Wells: A Tribute to One of CCF’s Founding Family Members
“Susan cared a lot about a wide array of social justice causes, but she didn’t just care about the cause, she also cared deeply for the people leading the cause, for the organizers and the community leaders out there every day pushing for justice. ”
Funder Perspective: Opportunity Fund Connecting to the Movement Ecosystem through Native Voices Rising
The Opportunity Fund wanted to learn what they could do as a locally-focused foundation to repair historical and ongoing harm and extraction from Black and Indigenous communities. Native Voices Rising provides a partner and entry point to funding Native-led work.
A Message from Our Board: Our Next Phase of Progressive Philanthropy
Peggy has led Common Counsel Foundation with vision, generosity, trust, and most importantly, intention. She has challenged us – Staff and Board – to now do the same.
A Note from Peggy: Closing Out This Amazing Journey
“CCF’s long history of supporting grassroots organizing towards social, racial and environmental justice was the compelling call for me to join as interim executive director over three years ago.”
Frontline Leaders Setting Strategy for Next Phase of Fund for an Inclusive California
Read more about the Fund for an Inclusive California’s community-led design process and how we are teeing up the next phase of work for housing justice and equitable development.
Expanding the Scope of Trust-Based Philanthropy: How Funders are Helping Reshape Learning & Evaluation
The Trust-Based Philanthropy Project is partnering with the Fund for an Inclusive California in a three-part series to chart a course for how philanthropy can reimagine learning and evaluation in alignment with community priorities.
GXF Spotlight: Firelands Workers United, Native Justice Coalition
Hear from two frontline organizations about how GXF grants have supported them to collaborate and take quick action in moments of opportunity.
Donor story: Connie’s power-building focus is right at home at CCF
Connie partners with Common Counsel Foundation as a home for her giving to support community power that uproots structural racism.
Measuring our accountability to movement: CCF leaders share a flipped mindset for evaluation at CHANGE Philanthropy’s Unity Summit
Watch this inside look on how the Fund for an Inclusive California team uses Learning and Evaluation to break out of inequitable power dynamics and make us stronger partners and funders to the grassroots movement.
Native Voices Rising 2022 Grant Cycle Open May 16 – July 15, 2022
Native Voices Rising 2022 grant cycle is now open, celebrating its tenth year of community-led grantmaking to Native-led organizations.
Philanthropy Should Follow Where Native Women in New Mexico Are Leading
Native Women in New Mexico are leading the way, building solidarity and growing resources for their communities. Read about five leaders’ work during the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Wildfires Threaten More Prisons, the Incarcerated Ask Who Will Save Their Lives
CCF grant recipient TGI Justice Project is doing urgent work to protect incarcerated people from California’s wildfires.
Native Voices Rising Grants $2 Million to Community Organizing and Advocacy Efforts Led by Indigenous Communities
Native Voices Rising, is honored to announce the granting of $2 million to 88 Indigenous and Native-led advocacy and organizing groups.
Immigrant Mothers Pressure Senator to Support Path to Citizenship in Reconciliation Package
CCF Grassroots Exchange Fund recipient Movement for Justice in El Barrio demands support for a path to citizenship for immigrants in the budget reconciliation package.
Partnering to Support Values-Forward Philanthropy
Common Counsel Foundation partners with families and individual donors to expand philanthropic resources for progressive social movements. We are excited to welcome these new partners to the Common Counsel Foundation community.
Haiti faces disasters and chaos. Its people are most likely to be denied U.S. asylum
NPR reports on personal stories of people seeking asylum at the Texas border, sharing history of U.S. interference and interview with the Executive Director of UndocuBlack.
Commemorating the Anti-Racial Profiling Project One Year Anniversary
CCF grantee Asian Americans Advancing Justice shares its milestones after one year of fighting racial profiling in its community.
New report shares insights from three years of partnership for housing justice
We are excited to share insights from our journey listening and learning alongside community leaders in California at the forefront of housing justice.
Op-Ed: Let’s Liberate Our Hair at Work
National Black Worker Center Executive Director writes for Newsweek about the ties between white supremacy and oppressive hair standards for Black women.
Climate activists in South Dakota organize to #CutMethane
CCF Environmental Action Fund grantee Dakota Resource Council is on the front lines in the movement to Cut Methane.
Innovative Organizing in California’s Inland Region
The Inland Region has a powerful history of innovative organizing, in this session we heard from racial, economic and housing justice organizers.
California Set to Extend Eviction Protections
The New York Times reports on California lawmakers’ deal aimed at preventing California from falling off an “eviction cliff,” featuring the work of F4ICA recipient Housing Now.
Searching for the Lost Graves of Louisiana’s Enslaved People
CCF Grassroots Exchange Fund recipient Lowlander Center is doing critical work to protect ancestral burial sites of enslaved people against the expansion of toxic petrochemical plants.
On the Louisiana Coast, an Indigenous Community Loses Homes to Climate Change
Documentary shared stories from the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw people, an Indigenous tribe that has lived on Isle de Jean Charles for more than two centuries, and at a crossroads with increasing massive flooding.
Texas Republicans Fail to Gut Local Labor Protections
Texas Observer reports on Texas’ 87th legislative session and a hard-fought victory for labor advocates including Workers Defense Project.
The Climate Crisis Demands a National Black Climate Agenda
Op-Ed by Colette Pichon Battle in The Hill announcing the Red, Black and Green New Deal, a climate agenda
One Struggle, Many Fronts with Alex Tom
In the face of racist attacks on Asian communities, Alicia Garza talks with CCF board chair and executive director of Center for Empowered Politics, Alex Tom about racial solidarity, organizing and more.
Lawmakers have bodily autonomy; so should constituents
Bold Futures NM’s Kat Sánchez writes for the La Cruces Sun News about the importance of bodily autonomy.
CCF’s Grantmaking for Social Justice in 2020
2020 was an expansive year for Common Counsel Foundation. Our community is growing, welcoming new donors, movement and funder partnerships, and staff.
Native Voices Rising Supports COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery by Awarding $1.5 Million to Native-led Nonprofits
We are pleased to announce $1.5M of grant awards to 89 Native-led groups, with nearly half of funds going to new grant partners.
Colorado bill would regulate toxins in communities, especially low-income areas
Colorado Politics documents the movement of HB20-1265 through the state legislature and showcases viewpoints of bill advocates, including climate justice leader from Colorado People’s Alliance.
Environmental Justice: The Issues Faced
CCF Environmental Action Fund grantee North Carolina Environmental Justice Network celebrates 20 years of fighting climate, environmental, racial, and social injustice.