Our Purpose


The Culture & Community Power Fund seeks to invest in, connect, and amplify efforts to help build community power through art and culture.

Why Community Power?

Achieving community self-determination, equity, racial justice, and well-being requires correcting systemic power imbalances. In communities most impacted by structural oppression, this means intentionally developing and nurturing community power.

What Is Community Power?

Community power is the ability of communities to set and achieve agendas toward changing systems that critically impact their health and prosperity.

It’s generated by and within each community through activities that support members to define and set priorities, advocate for their immediate and long-term needs, secure resources, and claim decision making authority. 

Community power is not built or enacted by a single organization, individual, or group operating in a vacuum. Instead, community power relies on a dynamic ecosystem of players that bolster and enhance each other’s expertise.

A healthy community power ecosystem is one with durable, reciprocal, and enduring relationships between actors. The healthier the ecosystem, the greater the potential for communities to define and set priorities, harness and direct community investment funds, define or influence policy and change or design new systems.

These working descriptions of community power are derived from existing research and writing including:

Philanthropic Investment in People Power. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Farrow, F., Yu, H. C., & Ross, R.

A Primer on Community Power, Place, and Structural Change. USC Equity Research Institute.

We anticipate that these descriptions will evolve across the duration of this project.

Art, Culture, & Community Power

Art and culture can meaningfully contribute to and help ground community power building efforts.

For example, they can help communities connect to their histories and heal; help bridge across interests, generations, politics, race, and class; create systems of mutual aid; generate community pride and joy; and help people to envision more just futures. The presence of thriving arts and cultural activity that is of and by (not just for or in) a community is often an indicator of strong, persistent community power. 

Through previous investments we have seen glimpses of how this can work. What we have not seen through these project-based interventions is how community power can be built and sustained over time; how community power can be enduring, not episodic.

Through these investments we have also seen glimpses of the essential role art and culture can play in building community power. Due to the fleeting nature of project-based community power building work, it has been difficult to fully or deeply understand how art and culture can be essential to community power building. It also requires us to see art and culture as an essential ingredient (the water we swim in or the air we breathe) as opposed to an added ingredient (moving from “arts and ___” to an “arts in ____” approach).

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