All posts by Mario

Our Ability and Autonomy to be Givers and Fundraisers

On August 10th and 11th, the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) will once again hold their fourth biennial Money for Our Movements: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference at the Oakland Marriot.

My own connection to GIFT spans years, dating back to my first grassroots fundraising training that I admittedly snuck into. Recently, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the importance of GIFT in a newsletter to GIFT donors:

1. What was your first impression of GIFT, and why did you decide to become a donor?

At my first GIFT training, I was struck by how the focus was as much on the why as the how of fundraising. And, also, by the belief of the trainers that the participants, as organizers, already had many of the skills needed to be incredible fundraisers but perhaps not yet the confidence or understanding to meet that potential.


Something to Love on Valentine’s Day

EBASE How good are we at celebrating victories? How good are we at telling the stories behind those victories? How important are those stories and celebrations of victories to sustaining and growing a vibrant social movement?

I can only imagine that they go hand in hand – sustainability can’t be gotten through struggle and sacrifice alone and organizing victories are hollow unless sustained and built upon.

And so, on this Valentine’s day, something we at the Foundation love is both EBASE and their allies’ recent victory AND the opportunity provided by them to celebrate that victory on February 22nd.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone, particularly those organizing with love.


Legacies of Organizing

With a lot of Bay Area pride, I read about SF’s minimum wage adjusting to $10.24, the highest in the nation. Lost on me was the role of community organizing groups and labor to have earlier pushed for the law that made this possible.

Given the work I do, I should have researched this more. But, instead, I went along with just knowing the reality and not the history of things. And so, I’m grateful to Colorlines, as well as Jaron from POWER and Shaw San from the Chinese Progressive Alliance, both Kapor Foundation grant recipients, for telling the story so well.

Like any dollar, $10.24 feels worth much more when you know how it was earned.



Tomorrow: Occupy Wall Street West

Tomorrow, members of the Occupy movement will take to the streets to mark the 2nd anniversary of the landmark Citizens United. Among those demonstrating will be Kapor Foundation grant recipients, POWER, PODER, Coleman Advocates, Chinese Progressive Association, alongside  other members of the Progressive Workers Alliance. From POWER …

Join us in the Streets!

January 20, 2012 marks the two-year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, where the Supreme Court held that corporations are “people” with campaign finance rights to “free speech.” While the Court bends over backwards to give extra, undeserved privileges to corporations, our communities are being stripped our most basic rights.  In protest of this gross contradiction; PWA joins Occupy Wall Street West’s call for a mass day of action.


The Word on Election R.A.P.: Why it Matters and How


This week we’re gearing up for and looking forward to our upcoming briefing, The Word on Election R.A.P. (election reform, administration and protection): Why it Matters and how we can Engage, happening this Wednesday in San Francisco.

The Word on Election RAP: Why It Matters and How We Can Engage will be an opportunity to define and discuss the impact and importance of election reform, administration and protection issues on low-income communities of color, particularly in California. This briefing brings together community-based organizing leaders with leaders from civil rights and “good government” groups as well as election officials to explore the possibilities, challenges and needs of communities of color to monitor, influence, and provide leadership around how elections are run.


Protecting “the Lifeblood of Our Democracy”

Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at the Lyndon B Johnson Library and Museum on the right to vote – as he described it, “the lifeblood of our democracy” – in the face of recent legislative voter id attacks. It was a reassuring commitment to act from the Justice Department (read the speech here, watch it here).

It comes amidst other encouraging election and voter protection news and efforts.

Cedric and I heard about many of these efforts at the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation‘s annual winter convening, where we had the privilege of moderating a session on the topic with presenters Judith Browne-Dianis of the Advancement Project, Eric Marshall from the  Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Biko Baker of the League of Young Voters Education Fund.

And here, we’re pleased to share Color of Change’s new campaign targeting the source of much of the voter suppression legislation: (more…)

Grant Recipients in the News!

Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Center for Third World Organizing, Chinese Progressive Association, POWER (& possibly more): On Wednesday, community based organizations from throughout the Bay Area participated in and provided leadership to “Foreclose on Wall Street West” actions that shut down Wells Fargo’s SF office for several hours.  CBS News Coverage

Brennan Center: Ahead of the 2012 elections, Brennan Center publishes Voting Law Changes in 2012, which is ”the first full accounting and analysis of this year’s voting cutbacks. It details both the bills that have been proposed and the legislation that has been passed since the beginning of 2011.” NY Times Editorial

Advancement Project: Co-director, Judith Browne Dianis, also weighs in on voter id laws and claims of voter fraud in her Washington Post Op-Ed, Five Myths of Voter Fraud.

Resource Generation: A photo of Resource Generation’s co-director, Elspeth Gilmore, holding a sign stating her support as a 1%er at Occupy Wall Street goes viral over Facebook. Resource Generation then teams up with Wealth for the Common Good to develop a new tumblr site, We Stand with the 99%. Good Magazine

California Allows Online Voter Registration

In important election reform and election administration news, California will now allow for online voter registration.  See more info below in this article from the Associated Press:

California allows online voter registration |The Associated Press |Posted: 10/07/2011 06:46:53 PM PDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Californians will be able to register to vote online for the 2012 elections.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he signed legislation that supporters say will modernize California’s election system.

The bill, SB 397, allows the state to begin registering voters online ahead of a new statewide voter database. It directs state election officials and the Department of Motor Vehicles to match registration information submitted online with DMV records containing an electronic copy of a voter’s signature.

Democratic Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco says his bill will allow more people to register and “participate in our democracy.”

The bill was sponsored by California Common Cause. Executive Director Kathay Feng says the system is expected to be up and running for the November 2012 general election.

The 2011 Ellas: 15 Years of People Powered Change

The Mitchell Kapor Foundation is looking forward to celebrating 15 years of inspired work and impact by the Ella Baker Center, as well as to celebrating this year’s Ellas award winners, Favianna Rodriguez (among other things, the artist responsible for the murals at the Kapor Center’s Oakland site), APEN (a Kapor Foundation key grant partner), and Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute.

We hope to see many of you there!


Ella Baker Center’s Anniversary Celebration and Award Ceremony

This year’s Ellas will feature a Community Reception, Art Exhibit of works by Favianna Rodriguez, our Awards Dinner, the announcement of the 2011 Van Jones Scholarship Winner, and much more.

WHEN: Thursday, September 22, 2011. 6:00 – 9:30 PM
WHERE: Oakland Marriot City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland

The 2011 Ellas also marks our 15th Anniversary of giving people the skills and opportunities to work together to strengthen our communities so that all of us can thrive.

The Annual Ella Awards Dinner will honor social change leaders whose inspiring and ground-breaking achievements build community strength and promote peace, justice and opportunity. People-powered action, driven by hope and the belief thatthings can and should be better, is how change happens.

The White House’s Office of Public Engagement

Last week, I had the chance to attend one of the White House’s Community Leaders Briefings, which are part of a larger effort organized by the Administration’s newly created Office of Public Engagement to “create and coordinate opportunities for direct dialogue between the Obama Administration and the American public, while bringing new voices to the table and ensuring that everyone can participate and inform the work of the President.”

For many in the audience, who represented a broad spectrum of organizations from throughout the country, the opportunity simply to be recognized, invited to the White House and heard (the meeting started with a good hour of allowing participants to share thoughts, ideas, concerns and questions with the director of the Office of Public Engagement, Jon Carson), was itself meaningful.

For the Administration, it was a chance to directly share the ways in which they have been working to have their efforts be more accessible and invite community leaders to, at the very least, take advantage of newly created opportunities to best make use of government programs and initiatives, as well as potentially work in coordination or complimentary fashion around policy goals. Towards the former, I share with you all the following, which participants recently received:

Helpful links:

Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships within the Domestic Policy Council works to form partnerships between the Federal Government and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to more effectively serve Americans in need.

Office of Public Engagement

Visit the Office of Public Engagement’s (OPE) new website, which is your one-stop-shop for all the different programs and resources from OPE:

Champions of Change

The Champions of Change series is designed for people to look into their communities and nominate everyday heroes who are demonstrating commitment to improving their own communities.

Let’s Move!

A initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, dedicated to solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation so that kids born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.

Joining Forces

A national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.

Startup America

A White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.

Change the Equation

Change the Equation, is a CEO-led effort to dramatically improve education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as part of the “Educate to Innovate” campaign. 

  • To learn more about Change the Equation, visit:

White House Live

White House Live is your portal for viewing live events at the White House on a daily basis as well as past events that you were not able to see. Visit White House Live at