Support community-driven change

Percent of 2023 grants & PRIs made through community grant partners & to community-led efforts *

  • Through community grant partners 65%
  • To community-led efforts 21%
  • Other 14%
Why it’s important to us

Change efforts are far more likely to succeed and be sustained when they are owned and shaped by the people most impacted by the change.

We work across three states and 23 Native nations, so we are not truly of any one community. To do our work well, we seek to work in close consultation with organizations that are better positioned to make decisions related to communities.

How we’re doing

In 2023, 85% of our grants and program-related investments (PRIs) were made through community grant partners and to community-led efforts. In the past few years, we have upped our commitment to working with partners to share more power in our grantmaking and work in deeper partnership with communities. We do this in two ways: by supporting work through our regular grantmaking that is shaped and driven by people from the communities affected by those efforts; and through grantmaking partnerships in which other organizations regrant Bush funding.

This approach isn’t new to us. We’ve built up some experience over the years and draw from that to keep improving our approach. Recent changes include tripling the amount of funding we give through community grant program partners and reimagining the Bush Prize to be owned by program partners. This commitment is also seen in the $100 million we used to seed community trust funds to address racial wealth gaps through two steward organizations.

These changes are all reflected in our 2023 grantmaking, where 65% of our funds were distributed through partners. (The grants to seed the community trust funds represent $50 million over our regular payout in both 2022 and 2023 so that significantly impacts this current measure.)

What’s next

This measure is a tricky one for us, and we are working to get better on our definition and how we track it. For example, to determine whether an effort is driven by the community, we look at factors like the makeup of an organization’s board, and backgrounds of the staff and others who are doing the work and making decisions. This multi-faceted approach is time-intensive for the organizations we’re working with and for our staff, so we will continue to work on definitions and data practices that capture what we want to illustrate without being burdensome to our partners.

* For this measure, we are including two types of efforts: 1) community grant partnerships through which Bush Foundation funds are regranted by organizations closer to the communities served; and 2) community-led problem-solving efforts in which people affected by a problem are controlling the funds.