The Fund for Democratic Communities is a Greensboro, North Carolina based limited-life foundation supporting community-based initiatives that foster authentic democracy and make communities better places to live. Founded in 2007, we’ve made over $5 million in grants and provided over 100,000 hours in technical assistance to support grassroots democratic efforts, primarily focused in the Southeastern U.S., North Carolina, and Greensboro, our home town.

We’re a small fund, but we’re trying to make tangible progress in building a more just, democratic, and sustainable South before we end operations in 2020. Our decision to sunset, rather than exist in perpetuity like most foundations, allows us to bring more financial resources to bear faster. Recognizing the limits of our time and resources, we focus primarily on two things: 1) building models and infrastructure for the world we want, and 2) supporting institutions and movements that build economic democracy, especially finance and development infrastructure that supports cooperative enterprises and community ownership.

Creating Infrastructure for a Values-Based Financial Commons

At F4DC, we work toward a time when the wealth produced by laboring people from the earth’s resources is available to them as a means of enhancing their lives and communities, rather than accumulated to enhance the power and privilege of the few. To get there, we’ll need new infrastructure for finance, one that’s based in our values.

Northeast Greensboro: Organizing to Create its Common Future

Since 2011, F4DC has actively supported the people of Northeast Greensboro, as they organize, learn, and struggle toward self-determination. We are the main technical assistance provider for the Renaissance Community Cooperative (RCC), a full-service community owned grocery store that ended an 18 year food desert when it opened in 2016. We now look to a future in which the community surrounding the RCC is a focal point of understanding and spreading the idea of cooperative economic development.

Grassroots Fundraising Matching Grants

As environmental, economic, and social systems collapse around us, it’s more important than ever for people to organize themselves to sustain institutions that respond to emerging challenges with flexibility and resilience. This is why F4DC offers two matching grant programs to encourage grassroots groups to grow their fundraising capacity and expand their base of support within their communities.

When We’re Done, The Work Won’t Be Over

If we want our impact to last past the point F4DC’s money runs out in 2020, we have to pay attention now to both capacity-building and seeding our ideas and methods with others. Besides working with our grantees, then, we also try to articulate what we’re doing and why in the wider world of philanthropy. And, we actively organize with other foundations to bring more grant and investment dollars to bear on the big issues of democratizing ownership and wealth.