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An Update from Growth Grant Recipient Elizabeth Foster

I used funding from the YNPN Chicago Professional Growth Grant to attend the Wealth Reclamation Academy of Practitioners (WRAP) online Lab for emerging resource mobilizers. The course challenged participants to consider how we can resource social justice movements in ways aligned with our mission - without centering wealthy donors as the protagonists of our narratives or compromising our values to meet campaign goals. We considered not only financial wealth, but also other forms of resources such as time and expertise, which are often devalued (or taken for granted) in the endless hunt for money. In alignment with the Just Transition values framework, we considered how to shift our practices away from resource extraction and towards a regenerative, justice-oriented framework that sustainably aligns resources and power under the stewardship of those most affected by systemic injustice.

To explore those questions, the WRAP lab met virtually over Zoom every week from February to May. We evaluated our existing fundraising practices, discussed our efforts to move towards a resource mobilization framework, workshopped each other's campaign materials, and built community around our shared commitment to doing better than traditional fundraising. I even had the opportunity to support another cohort member in refining materials for an event and then actually attend the event to see her vision realized in practice.

The WRAP program is continuing in the form of periodic open lab sessions organized as drop-in spaces for resource mobilizers to convene and provide open-ended support and community to each other. As my own organization builds out our development team, I also plan to use what I learned at WRAP to shape our work, especially our individual giving program. As part of the nonprofit community in Chicago, my hope is also to share what I have learned with other development staff and nonprofit folks interested in critically understanding where our funding comes from and how funding practices can either undermine our mission work or contribute to building stronger and more community-driven organizations.

Many thanks to our host and facilitator Veronica, and to the other members of my WRAP cohort. I would also like to thank YNPN Chicago for the financial support to defray the cost of WRAP tuition.

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