Going PLACES: 2022 PLACES Fellowship – In Retrospect

BY Katrina Julien, Senior Program Officer at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and 2022 PLACES Fellow


For The Funders Network, PLACES stands for Professionals Learning About Community, Equity and Sustainability. This is something that all alumni know by the end of the program, as we are encouraged to embody those ideals and be able to introduce them and our cohort at any given moment. Like me, I’m sure that most decide to apply for PLACES as a strategy to strengthen their leadership role and progress in their philanthropic careers. But those who’ve gone through the program know that this is more than just another bullet on your resume it’s an opportunity to connect what you do with who you are. It’s also a chance to see opportunities in difficult situations, and to envision a world where using philanthropy as a tool no longer does as much harm as it does good. 

PLACES is both a professional and personal journey.  

Fellows at Waterfront Park overlooking the Bay in Burlington, Vermont. Photo credit: Dion Cartwright

Our first meeting was virtual but still dynamic. We learned a little about each other and broke out into groups to begin to connect with our peers and prepare to head to our first site visit destination, Burlington, Vt.. In Burlington, the PLACES team wasted no time getting us talking about ourselves, our work, and how overwhelming it can be working in a sector that upholds white supremacy culture all while trying to dismantle it from the inside. We heard from foundations at all different stages of embedding equity into their work. 

Personally, I got to hear what I must've sounded like when I started in the community foundation, speaking about equity but knowing it hadn't yet been operationalized within my organization. It was hard to watch but incredibly informative. The nonprofit partners were doing some incredible work and creating more diverse spaces even though it was hard. Though it seemed unbalanced, what I came away with is the realization that to achieve the goals we strive for, philanthropy needs to listen and learn from the examples that community and nonprofit partners present.  

When I returned to work, I grappled with these questions: What is the role of philanthropy in dismantling broken systems? Do we work in institutions that are ready to do that? What is my responsibility to ensure equity in my work? The great thing about PLACES is that you work through all your uncertainties with your peers. Your cohort and the PLACES team ensure that you don’t hide from difficult issues and give you the space to unpack them on your own time. By the second site visit in Oklahoma City, fellows were ready to dig into some of those uncertainties. 

The Oklahoma City site visit challenged me. There, we heard OKC history as told by a person whose life’s work was to record the history of Oklahoma, but whose unconscious biases were apparent in every historical fact discussed. We also heard from a PLACES alum who was doing amazing work in philanthropy, yet he introduced the idea of strategic complicity choosing which battles are worth fighting and which you concede to do the greatest amount of good. As a person who was born to challenge everything, this concept was and is the hardest for me to accept. Yes, I understood it, but I didn't like it. The good thing is that the PLACES team knew when to push and when to offer respite. And we spent just as much time learning and acknowledging each other as we did learning about the issues and challenges of the city. We also made sure to see and interact with each city and its history, from the somber reflections at the OKC Memorial to the richness of Burlington’s Intervale Center. 

Fresno, Calif., had its unique challenges that philanthropic, nonprofit, and community organizations were working through. Our last site visit in Fresno solidified the idea that no matter the place, no matter the issue (housing, access to water, food insecurity, health and wellness, etc.) the real work is dismantling the power structures that oppress communities. Oppression may look one way in Burlington and another way in Fresno, but the underlying issue is the same: a gross imbalance of power and privilege heavily steeped in racial inequities, and the necessity of returning that power and autonomy to the people and communities that have been disenfranchised to make decisions for their lives. 

Fellows meeting with Friends of Calwa and other local nonprofit leaders in Fresno. In the session, fellows learned about community-led transformation efforts for sustainable, community-driven water and climate solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy. Photo credit: Dion Cartwright

At the end of this journey, I don’t think I’ve found the answers to all my questions. Finding those answers may be a collective journey. Yet, I am so lucky to have my fellowship family to share it with, to commiserate with, to uplift and cheer on. The best leadership advice given in this program is, “find your people, the ones that have your back in this challenging work.” PLACES helps leaders in philanthropy connect with and identify who their people are and challenges us all to get to work. 

 About the Author


Katrina Julien (she/hers) is a Senior Program Officer at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. She is a member of the 2022 PLACES Fellowship cohort. 

Los Angeles Funders Collaborative 2022 In-Person Gathering (Cross-Post)

Smart Growth California is an initiative of The Funders Network. Ron Milam, the Director of Smart Growth California, wrote about his experience at the Los Angeles Funders Collaborative Meeting in November.

On November 4th, after not meeting in person for two and a half years due to the global pandemic, the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative met in person at The California Endowment. It reaffirmed for me the value of meeting in person and what can happen when folks have the time to connect, reflect and strategize.

Like Smart Growth California’s recent Climate Funders Collaborative (Baja/Imperial/San Diego region) that took place last month, we held the entire meeting outside, one of the perks of a fall day in Southern California. We met in the peaceful courtyard of The California Endowment, a place that in many ways operates like a public square for the social and philanthropic sectors in Southern California.

I always love going to the TCE campus and was so happy to return! It’s a meaningful site to me personally because it’s actually where I met my wife way back in 2009, which now that we have three children, feels like a long time ago! It’s also a place where I presented numerous trainings over the years at the Center for Nonprofit Management, facilitated multiple gatherings for both the Los Angeles Funders Collaborative and Southern California Grantmakers Environmental Funders Group, along with numerous nonprofits over the years like the Green LA Coalition and Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Needless to say, it filled me with great joy to be back in that place with people who I’ve worked closely with over the years.

Read the full post on Smart Growth California's website here.

Climate Funders Collaborative (Baja, Imperial, San Diego Region): Smart Growth California's Newest Working Group! (Cross-post)

Smart Growth California, an initiative of The Funders Network has a new working group based in the Baja, Imperial, and San Diego Region. On October 6th, 2022, 18 climate-oriented funders gathered at the Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center on a cloudy and cool day in San Diego to launch a new funder learning space, the Climate Funders Collaborative (Baja/Imperial/San Diego Region). 

The genesis for the gathering built on years of conversations among these funders and coalesced earlier in the year when our parent organization, The Funders Network, held its annual conference in San Diego, highlighting the many opportunities and strong leadership in the region. During the conference, Smart Growth California partnered with Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties, San Diego Foundation, International Community Foundation, and The California Endowment to host a dinner to explore the idea of launching a Funders’ Collaborative in the region. Given the enthusiasm from the number of funders that came, we knew there was enough momentum to proceed.

Read the full blog post on Smart Growth California's website here.

Dispatch from #ForumCon22: Emerging With Boldness (Cross-Post)

The Funders Network is committed to sharing the stories and strategies of our members, partners and others in the philanthropic sector working to create more sustainable, prosperous and equitable communities.

Today, we’re sharing a recent blog post from Hazel Paguaga, a Program Associate at TFN who attended United Philanthropy Forum's latest conference in Seattle. This article  shares reflections from Hazel's experience at #ForumCon22.

#ForumCon22 in Seattle was an exciting return to being in person. There were several people who I finally got to meet after only knowing them virtually. I also made some new connections and felt incredibly welcomed as a first-time attendee. After entering the philanthropy world over two years ago there’s still so much to learn and the conference was full of amazing sessions and calls to action to lead by being bold.

I started off the conference with the Emerging Practitioners workshop led by Elyse Gordon and Laura Collier. The workshop focused on leveraging our roles as emerging practitioners to advocate for changes while navigating our day to day and supporting our members. They acknowledged the formal and informal roles we play at our organizations and highlighted the informal roles in particular that may often go overlooked. Roles like cheerleaders, IT support, catering experts, Chief Morale Officers, and more. It was encouraging to hear from my peers on how they are managing relationships in a changing world dealing with a pandemic, racial reckoning, climate change and more. We brainstormed on how we might change the sector and voted for our top ideas. Some of the top ideas were four-day work weeks, organization wide vacations, proper compensation with benefits, and flexibility. Emerging practitioners are leading by disrupting outdated practices, fighting burn out, embracing creativity and new ways of learning.

Read the full article on United Philanthropy Forum's website here.

Featured Image: "Seattle skyline" by dph1110 is licensed under CC BY

About the Author

Hazel is a Program Associate at The Funders Network, and handles the programmatic support for Inclusive Economies, Mobility and Access, and PPREP. She has a bachelor’s in sociology from Florida International University. She previously worked as an office assistant at Florida International University – Counseling and Psychological Services and as a research assessor at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies.

When not working, Hazel enjoys listening to podcasts, making to-do lists, dancing, and exploring Miami.

Barr Foundation's Lisa Jacobson: Europe’s Bike and Transit Systems Are a Marvel, But Only For Some (Cross-Post)

The Funders Network is committed to sharing the stories and strategies of our members, partners and others in the philanthropic sector working to create more sustainable, prosperous and equitable communities.

Today, we’re sharing a recent guest column on StreetsBlog Mass from Lisa Jacobson at the Barr Foundation. (Lisa is also an alum of the PLACES Fellowship's 2017 Cohort and a member of the design committee for the Mobility and Access Collaborative, a TFN initiative.) Her article focuses on the gap in public transportation solutions and the communities they serve. 

During a recent six-day study tour with a group of climate grantmakers and advocates in Amsterdam and London, I marveled at the frequent and fully functioning rail, in contrast to my frustration with the T. The vast, connected networks of protected bike lanes, navigable without fear of Boston drivers or cavernous potholes.

I daydreamed about how it’d feel to have more pleasant travels, how much safer and happier our communities could be, and how we could rid our skies of so much climate-changing pollution.

The study tour also provided the opportunity to meet with people working and living in London and Amsterdam, who explained some of the many ways they are leading the world in terms of efficient, net-zero planning. Some of their successes include ambitious mode share goals (that they are realizing); dedicated revenue sources; electrified freight; and coordinated transportation and land use planning.

And yet, throughout the trip, I began to notice gaps in the way transportation solutions were planned. One key takeaway for me was that their approaches were not sufficient for the future of cities in the United States — and that we need to build and improve upon them.

Read the full article here

Featured image: Neighbors enjoy a Dutch "woonerf," or shared street, in Utrecht. Photo by Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

Going PLACES - Trading Palm Fronds for Maple Leaves: What Two Demographically Distinct States can Learn from Each Other

By Xan Avendaño, PLACES Fellow and Program Officer at The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Going PLACES is an occasional blog series featuring the voices and experiences of TFN’s PLACES Fellows. For more information on the fellowship, and to read past blog posts from our fellows, visit here.

2022 PLACES Fellowship cohort in Burlington, Vt.

The first things I notice walking around Burlington are the notable differences from my home on O’ahu. In the parks, people rest under the shade of maple trees, rather than banyans or palms. On the water, instead of canoes, sailboats float under an evening sun. But perhaps one of the most glaring differences is the faces of the people I pass on the streets. While Hawai’i consistently ranks as one of the most racially diverse states in the country, Vermont is 94% White.  

When our TFN PLACES cohort arrived in Vermont to learn about equitable community development, it was not clear what these two states, with such different ethnic demographics and geographic landscapes, could possibly learn from each other. Yet as we listened to voices discuss life in Vermont – the challenges and creative solutions embedded in rural areas, food systems and housing sectors – I felt the tectonic plates shift, bringing Hawai’i and Vermont closer together. Community development leaders in both states are wrestling with how to transition systems from land ownership to land stewardship, and how to increase and advocate for collective prosperity in an economic system that prioritizes individual gains. The scale and numbers of people of color might differ, but there is plenty to learn from each other. 

One area where this is most evident is in food systems. Community leaders of color in both states are advancing local solutions to healthy food systems that use agricultural practices to heal and grow people and land. We explored this intersection at the Intervale Center, where we were hosted by the center’s executive director, Travis Marcotte, and Nick Richardson, president and CEO of the Vermont Land Trust. The setting had an air of peace and urgency. The Intervale Center is a quaint community food hub that sits on a 360-acre campus of protected conservation land on the Winooski River. Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the Abenaki peoples fished wild salmon on that very land along that very river. Today, hardly any wild salmon remain.  

Shifting from extractive systems that diminish the salmon supply in the Winooski to systems where land is publicly accessible and food is sustainably grown by local communities is a daunting feat in today’s economic and political landscape. Neither Vermont nor Hawai’i small farmers have much access to the patient capital needed to produce food at scale. At the same time, with 80% of forest acreage in Vermont privately owned by individuals and families, it is no small task to reach a consensus with hundreds of private landowners, particularly in a state where individual freedom is embedded in the state’s motto: “Freedom and Unity.”  

Is there a way forward that allows individuals to thrive economically while collectively remaining united? 

Fellows gathered at the Intervale Center where they learned about innovative, replicable and place-based solutions used to address agriculture’s most pressing problems in Vermont.

In Hawai’i, leaders across the state are developing food hubs that aggregate small farm production to collectively meet the demands of large institutions like hospitals and public schools. In Vermont, leaders like Travis and Nick have visions for increasing the resilience of local farmers by entering large markets like Boston. At a localized level, a more recent effort from groups like SUSU CommUNITY Farm in southern Vermont represent an opportunity for the growing African diaspora to dig their feet in the soil, plant familiar foods and reclaim their own narratives around food and culture. These groups can learn from similar efforts like HuiMAU on Hawai’i Island, where the community is raising, healing and growing youth and Indigenous food crops on leased land.  

Similarly, new models of land stewardship and equitable community development manifest themselves in the housing sector. In conversations with public officials from the City of Burlington, we learned of the inequities and the innovations in motion to address them in the city with a population of 42,000.  

One of those inequities is shocking: Only 17 of the 6,000 owner-occupied homes in Burlington are Black-owned, even though Black people represent nearly 10% of the total population. Burlington is in a housing crisis, and the increased number of urbanites buying homes in Vermont during the pandemic makes bridging this racial divide even more difficult today than before. Hawai’i also faces rising housing costs at an even more severe scale, and it is becoming more and more difficult for local residents, particularly Pacific Islanders, to afford to live in their home community.  

One potential solution lies in the model of individual homeownership on community-owned land. The Champlain Housing Trust, a shared-equity homeownership model funded by the City of Burlington, combats housing speculation and maintains affordable homeownership opportunities in perpetuity through a community land trust model. This model makes homeownership work for families that can’t afford large down payments and want to make a long term investment in their home community. With 650 homes, The Champion Housing Trust (CHT), is one of the largest community land trusts in the country, and it continues to innovate toward a more equitable future. CHT has recently announced a downpayment assistance program specifically for BIPOC homebuyers, the first-of-its kind program in the sector. This CHT model, which is unafraid to name racial and ethnic divides with the goal of equitable progress, has  powerful lessons for our local community in Hawai’i that continues to see more lucrative housing being built and more families unable to afford to live in their  home state. 

Though it is tempting to focus on the differences between Hawai’i and Vermont, it is in each community’s response to similar challenges that we find solutions that can lift us all. Perhaps the greatest of these solutions lies in the second half of Vermont’s state motto: Unity. 


About the Author

Xan Avendaño (he/him) is a program officer at The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Hawai’i. He is a member of the 2022 PLACES Fellowship cohort.

Call for Proposals: TFN 2023 Annual Conference

We're headed to New Orleans in March for The Funders Network’s 2023 Annual Conference!

Do you have an idea for a session that will deepen learning, foster collaboration and catalyze action?

TFN invites you to submit a session proposal for our 2023 Annual Conference, which takes place March 20-22 in New Orleans.

Our annual conferences bring together funders from across North America to learn and share ways we can strengthen our ties to the people and places we serve, deploy resources where they are most needed, and push for powerful and creative strategies to address inequities and move toward justice.

We look forward to coming together in New Orleans to delve into and lift up the work that is making an impact amid escalating climate crises, erosion of civil liberties and economic inequities  —  all of which disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color.

Please read on for more information on how to submit a session proposal for TFN’s 2023 Annual Conference.


 *The deadline to submit a conference proposal is August 1, 2022.

Submitting a Proposal

→ Read the TFN Conference Proposal Guidelines for information on review and selection criteria, session formats and more.

→ Share your proposed session via our Online Proposal Form.

About #TFN2023

Save the date for TFN's 2023 Annual Conference, which will take place March 20-22 in New Orleans!We'll gather at the historic Hotel Monteleone, nestled in the heart of the city's French Quarter.Registration will launch in the winter. Stay tuned for more details!

Grounded in Racial Equity

Our conference planning committee and TFN team are encouraging session ideas that are interdisciplinary, cross-cutting and grounded in racial equity.

TFN’s Strategic & Racial Equity Frameworks share key strategies, our racial equity framework and action plan, and program priorities. Download a copy here.

 Curious about what we learned and shared at #TFN2022? Check out the full agenda and speaker list for TFN's 2022 Annual Conference: Seize the Moment in San Diego here.

Communities First Infrastructure Alliance

A few months ago, we hosted the #TFN2022 post-conference event, Communities First: Ensuring Racial Equity in Infrastructure Spending  — setting the stage for future action, connection and collaboration.

We're excited to share an update on these efforts to ensure federal infrastructure dollars flow equitably, smoothly and directly into BIPOC communities.

Where are we now

First, the Communities First Infrastructure Alliance is activated!

The Funders Network has joined with more than 50 valued-aligned partners committed to Communities First principles. The Communities First Infrastructure Alliance is working with technical assistance providers, frontline communities and government leaders to build just, equitable, and more resilient communities, using the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) funds.

The Alliance is led by national equity-centered leadership groups including:

Other national, regional and local organizations involved in the Alliance include the Center for American ProgressNatural Resource Defense CouncilNew Urban Mobility (NUMO) AlliancePartnership for Southern EquityLocal Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC), Neighborhood Funders Group, Urban InstituteGreenlining Institute, Emerald Cities Collaborative and Smart Growth America, to name just a few.

The Communities First Infrastructure Alliance members will work collectively to support communities with the resources, capacity and technical assistance required to actualize community-centered plans, projects and visions to meet this moment for the movement.

Second, Communities First is in active conversations with representatives from USDA, EPA and DOT as they seek to identify demonstration sites in key geographic regions. Once these sites have been identified, we look forward to working with the agencies to maximize their impact of technical assistance support.
Finally, in partnership with Amalgamated Foundation, the Communities First team has outlined the design for the funding infrastructure necessary to build the capacity for the organizations on the ground, as well as planning grants, matching grants, bridge loans, and other sources of funds to ensure that the federal money can flow with racial equity at the center.

The amount of work these last few weeks has led to incredible progress. But there is still so much work to do.

It’s time to begin building the fund that can provide the capacity for the organizations on the ground, as well as planning grants, matching grants, bridge loans, and other sources of funds to ensure racial equity in federal infrastructure spending.

Read on for additional action items and resources and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.

We are all in this together.

Action Items

➡ Learn more and join the Communities First Infrastructure Alliance

➡ Fund Communities First to be the conduit of philanthropic support to frontline communities as they prepare to absorb federal funds in the future. Reach out to Helen Chin, helen@communitiesfirst.us to discuss procurement options.


White House Announcement

Read the May 18 White House Announcement highlighting philanthropic, nonprofit & labor organizations, including the Communities First Infrastructure Alliance White House Releases Technical Assistance Guide to Help Communities Unlock Resources From Bipartisan Infrastructure Law


Streetsblog | Episode 383: A Communities First Infrastructure Alliance

Research Pieces

PolicyLink | From ARPA to IIJA - Fulfilling the Promise of Equity
Communities First | ARPA Report 


ImpactAlpha Policy Corner | Keeping communities at the center of equitable infrastructure by reimagining risk, power and accountability

In solidarity,

Nine Communities Receive Partners for Places Mini Grants!


The Funders Network, in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, is excited to announce the latest round of Partners for Places Mini Grants. These grants are intended to help local governments, place-based funders and frontline communities build relationships, align project ideas, and center racial equity in water, sustainability and climate action work.

The Partners for Places Mini Grants are designed to spark new relationships or deepen existing connections that will help communities develop a successful Partners for Places project application in the future.

Partners for Places is a matching grant program that improves U.S. and Canadian communities by building partnerships between local government leaders, community groups and place-based funders. National funders invest in local projects developed through these partnerships to advance efforts to create communities that are sustainable, prosperous and just. These sustainability efforts take place from coast to coast, in communities both large and small and focus largely on empowering and engaging low-income neighborhoods.

These nine communities have received Partners for Places Mini Grants:

Charlottesville, Va.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Addressing Energy Inequity in Albemarle County, VA

Project description: To understand the distribution of energy burden in Albemarle County, both demographically and geographically, in order to identify strategies that the Community Climate Collaborative can utilize to align its climate and equity initiatives with the county's commitment to building a resilient, thriving community.

Frontline community-led group: Community Climate Collaborative

Funder partner: Adiuvans Foundation

Erie, Pa.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: City of Erie Sustainability Strategy

Project description: The City of Erie will partner with CAFE, The Hamot Health Foundation, CRANE and PennFuture to initiate a sustainability strategic planning process to build stakeholder consensus and implement local policies that help protect our natural resources through a lens of racial equity and environmental justice.

Frontline community-led group: Community Resilience Action Network of Erie, PennFuture and CAFÉ

Funder partner: Hamot Health Foundation

Gwinette County, Ga.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Initial Resilience Planning for Unincorporated Norcross

Project description: The project seeks to take initial steps towards a long-term comprehensive, proactive plan for the resilience needs of a diverse, Latino and immigrant-dense community that is under-resourced and climate-burdened.

Frontline community-led group: LiveNorcross/Gwinnett Housing Corporation

Funder partner: Latino Community Fund of Georgia

New Orleans La.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Equitable green designs for frontline NOLA neighborhoods

Project description: To help develop an equitable Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) tool for construction prioritization in NOLA communities. Protocols will help communities of color articulate their climate change vulnerability and needs for greening interventions, and be used to demonstrate how other frontline communities might implement a similar prioritization strategy.

Frontline community-led group: Institute for Sustainable Communities and Healthy Community Services

Funder partner: Greater New Orleans Foundation

Richmond Va.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Completion of a Neighbor-led Greening Plan for Richmond’s Southside

Project description: A neighbor-led greening plan centers people who are directly impacted by climate injustice and seeks to repair decades of systemic disinvestment in South Richmond.

Frontline community-led group: Virginia Community Voice and Southside ReLeaf

Funder partner: Virginia Outdoor Foundation

Santa Cruz, Calif.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Student-Centered Climate/Environmental Justice Art Sister City Partnership

Project description: Partners for Places Mini Grant funds will help support efforts to create a four-stage project which includes: Community Art Exhibition and the creation of mobile art pieces; mobile art pieces at in-classroom presentations to frontline students; student field trips to environmental justice murals; the creation of student art pieces and statements to share with Sister City students/communities.

Frontline community-led group: Sea Walls/Made Fresh Crew, Natural Bridges High School and Star Community High School

Funder partner: Community Foundation Santa Cruz County

Springfield Mo.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Urban Waters Access for All

Project description: This grant will be used to better understand people's relationship to water and barriers to accessing regional water resources. Funding will be used to facilitate community outreach and engagement, to better understand their connection to existing local waterways, water quality and barriers to access.

Frontline community-led group: Community Partnership of the Ozarks

Funder partner: Community Foundation of the Ozarks

Westland, Mich.:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Lower Rouge River Water Trail Leadership Committee

Project description: Friends of the Rouge will utilize funding from the Partners for Places Mini Grant to help facilitate its strategic planning meetings, community outreach, and engagement on park improvements in the Norwayne community in Westland, and help ensure the leadership committee reflects the diversity of the communities aligned with the water trail.

Frontline community-led group: The Norwayne Community Citizens Council and Friends of the Rouge

Funder partner: National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

Waco, Texas:

Amount: $10,000

Project title: Cultivating a Regenerative Food Culture in Waco

Project description: Partners for Places Mini Grant funds will be used to facilitate strategic partnerships to create a regenerative food culture and related infrastructure for food waste diversion from the landfill and education on food waste and composting. Historically disadvantaged Waco neighborhoods and Waco public schools will be the targeted frontline communities.

Frontline community-led group: Mission Waco

Funder partner: Cooper Foundation

About Partners for Places

Partners for Places will help turn Chicago schoolyards into vibrant green spaces for play and learning. Photo credit: Space to Grow

To date, Partners for Places has awarded over $8.5 million across North America in this successful matching grant program, leading to over $18 million in investments.

The matching grant program brings national funder investors together with place-based funders to support equitable sustainable climate action and green stormwater infrastructure projects. The program is currently supported by six investor foundations: The JPB FoundationThe Kendeda FundThe Kresge FoundationNew York Community TrustThe Allen H. and Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust, and the Pisces Foundation.

Read about the latest round of Partners for Places matching grant recipients here.

To learn about the previous round of Partners for Places Mini Grants, visit here. (All grant announcements can be found on the Partners for Places webpage.)

For questions about the Partners for Places Mini Grants or matching grants program, please reach out to Ashley Quintana.

Partners for Places FAQ's

→ Where is Partners for Places making an impact?
Read previous grant announcements and explore the Partners for Places Grantee Map here. 

→ Where can I learn about completed Partners for Places projects?
Visit the Partners for Places Idea Bank to explore what grantees are doing, learning and sharing. 

For more information about Partners for Places, please reach out to Ashley Quintana, ashley@fundersnetwork.org. 


"Nature's Artistry" by Olin Gilbert is licensed under CC BY

"Nature's Artistry" by Olin Gilbert is licensed under CC BY

"my community" by marneejill is licensed under CC BY-SA

Highlights | Communities First: Ensuring Racial Equity in Infrastructure Spending

"We need you to help cities, towns and community-based organizations to build capacity and develop great transportation plans that build thriving communities for generations."
- Pete Buttigieg,
Secretary of Transportation

With the federal government poised to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure and economic development, how can we ensure that funds are equitably spent in ways that support historically marginalized communities of color?

The Funders Network recently co-hosted a hybrid gathering to dig into that important question – bringing together a thought-provoking panel of speakers that included leaders in philanthropy, government and community movement-building.

The event, Communities First: Ensuring Racial Equity in Infrastructure Spending, co-hosted by TFN in partnership with  Communities First,  Environmental Grantmakers Association, and Neighborhood Funders Group,  focused on federal infrastructure, economic development and building generational wealth for BIPOC communities.

More than 300 attendees joined us either virtually or in person following our TFN Annual Conference in San Diego on March 16.

Below you will find a full recording of this event, as well as key takeaways, event resources and next steps.

Our thanks to our co-hosts and to our amazing speakers (including Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg) for giving of their time, talents and expertise.

Key Takeaways

  • Communities need access to flexible funds. The bureaucracy that often underpins government (and sometimes philanthropic) funding is more harmful than helpful. Solutions to big problems are dynamic. Funding must be dynamic to meet the need most effectively.


  • We must build criteria to align with “shovel-worthy” projects and demonstrate good practice.  There are many places nationwide that are demonstrating excellent practices of community-led visioning and planning and are detailing how they will approach infrastructure to achieve equity. By building criteria based on these demonstration sites, we can ensure that funds get to where they need to go.


  • Technical assistance should be accountable and in service to frontline communities and their priorities. The systemic under-investment in Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-wealth communities has restricted the communities’ ability to direct and to receive trillions of infrastructure dollars. A network of technical services from trusted practitioners who prioritize equity values must be mobilized to support the readiness of communities for investment, as well as to repair past harm and equitable investments.

Event Resources

Event recording 

Recording of the two-hour virtual briefing is posted on YouTube.

Graphic recordingsYen Azarro was our incredible illustrator who captured and summarized our conversation with beautiful imagery, as well as the collective operating assumptions for the briefing.

Key Takeaways

High level takeaways of the challenges and solutions related to driving the equitable deployment of federal infrastructure investment are clicked on the Challenges Jamboard and Solutions Jamboard.

Take Action
We urge you to sign-on to the Communities First Principles as these are a solid starting point of commitments from which philanthropy can move forward collaboratively as a sector.

Featured Speakers


Top row: 

Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation

Kizzy Charles-GuzmanExecutive Director, NYC Mayor's Office of Climate and Environmental Justice

Helen ChinPresident, Communities First Fund 

Christopher CoesDeputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation

Michelle DePass, Immediate Past President, Meyer Memorial Trust 

Radhika Fox, Assistant Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water 

Salin Geevarghese, President & CEO of SGG Insight, LLC

Bottom row: 

Sekita GrantVice President Programs, The Solutions Project 

Judith LeBlanc, Executive Director, Native Organizers Alliance 

Justin Maxson, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, U.S. Department of Transportation

Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director of Organizing and Advocacy, Ironbound Community Corporation 

Michael McAfeePresident & CEO, PolicyLink

Deputy Asma Mirza, Chief Of Staff, COVID-19 Response Team at The White House