We Did It!

It’s 2020 – a year that will become memorable for all of us, thanks to COVID-19 and the economic collapse it has hastened.

For us at the Fund for Democratic Communities, 2020 will be memorable for an additional reason: it’s the year we close our doors. None of this should be a surprise, to our grantees, at least. Back in 2010, co-founders and co-Managing Directors Ed and Marnie agreed that we’d sunset F4DC in ten years, and we’ve been touting that plan in blogposts and papers and at conferences ever since.

Our original plan was to close in December of this year, but today we’re announcing that we’ll be closing on June 30th. Of course, we’re closing early because we’ve been wildly successful at building a more democratic, just, and sustainable world, and we’ve ended all forms of oppression ahead of schedule!!

Just kidding. We’re closing early because we’re out of money earlier than we’d originally planned.

As the COVID crisis and economic meltdown unfolded, we very deliberately decided to move as much as we could as fast as we could into the hands of people and groups doing important work. We’ve set aside enough funds to pay our peeps through the end of the year, close down operations in an orderly way, and tell the story of F4DC in ways that we hope will inspire others to support the organizations and movements that we’ve grown, nurtured, and learned from.

We were going to have a huge final gathering dedicated to summing up and leaning into the next stages of the work – but COVID fucked that up. Nonetheless, this isn’t the last you’ll hear from F4DC. After we close our public-facing operation and wrap things up administratively, we’ll be taking time to reflect about our history and what it means that there ever was an F4DC. And beyond that, each of us – Sohnie, Marnie, Ed, Mildred & Alex – is committed to the work. We’ll be moving into various jobs and onto new platforms where we intend to keep our collective vision of authentic grassroots democracy alive.

In 2012, Marnie wrote this about the thinking behind the decision to operate for a limited span of time:

We’re at a pivotal moment, a time of opportunity on the one hand and real danger on the other. F4DC is striving to put its resources — both money and people power — in service to the massive project of building a just, sustainable and democratic economy in this critical period. It’s a big project, and it’s sure to last way past 2020. But we think F4DC’s greatest impact—our shot at transformational impact — is in these next eight years.

It’s going to take a while (perhaps a few decades?) to figure out whether F4DC actually had a transformational impact. What we can say now is that we worked really hard with some brilliant, powerful partners to build some durable infrastructure for that just, democratic, and sustainable future. We’re incredibly grateful for the partners who have taught us, stood with us, argued with us, lifted us up along the way. We’re proud of the legacy we leave behind, which includes Seed Commons, the Southern Reparations Loan Funds, and all the learning from the Renaissance Community Cooperative, just to name a few highlights.

Justice movements are built and operate on trust, which feeds into a core principle at F4DC: the only way to build trust is to keep your promises. Ten years ago, we promised to move all of F4DC’s assets into communities, into the hands of people who will fight for freedom and build justice. And today, we’re proud to say that we are keeping that promise.

Alex, Ed, Marnie, Mildred, and Sohnie – the staff of F4DC

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