LEAP supports activists and social entrepreneurs who want to change social systems. But what do we mean by systems change? Our FAQs provide only a broad definition. That’s a conscious choice, because we believe that the LEAP community should decide what counts as a relevant systems change on a case by case basis. At the same time, we want to give people a sense of how our funding partners could look like.
We chose these examples because they represent different levels of social systems, different topic areas, and different levers for impact. The actual diversity of actors and initiatives that LEAP could support is of course much greater.
The European climate movement is largely white and middle class. As a result, campaigns often ignore the experiences of the black, brown and lower class people, who often are the most impacted by runaway climate change.
Funding plays a major role in this. Most philanthropic wealth is controlled by white middle and upper class people, who are reluctant to address classism and racism.
At LEAP, a diverse group of activists and social entrepreneurs decides which initiatives are supported. It has no problem with linking climate action to classism and racism. It could provide flexible and long-term support for grassroots movements that amplify marginalized voices.
Violence Prevention Network (VPN) is a social venture based in Germany. VPN ensures that ideologically motivated offenders are not further radicalized (and ideally deradicalized) in prison. In Germany, 41% of young violent offenders commit further acts of violence after their release. VPN reduces that rate to 13%. The program has a 300% return on investment for the government.
In 2010, VPN wanted to work with governments to make deradicalization programs a mandatory part of the German prison system. Despite their impressive track record and impact evaluations, VPN could not find a foundation to support this effort. The effort is political, and there is a taboo around prisons and ideologically motivated offenders. This puts most donors off.
We don't know if activists and social entrepreneurs would have selected VPN as a funding partner (had we already existed in 2010). We do know that they wouldn't have rejected it for being political and dealing with prisoners, though.
FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Acts. These laws govern access to governmental and related information all over Europe. They promote transparency and are crucial for campaigns, e.g. on environment, corruption, racism, or militarism.
FOIAstarter seeks to empower movements with the tools of FOIA. The initiative would
- build and connect easy-to-use FOIA platforms all across Europe,
- connect activists with FOIA expertise, e.g. to collect information or sue public institutions, and
- involve investigative journalists in independent reporting.
FOIAstarter has not yet secured sufficient funding. This doesn't surprise us. The initiative strengthens a whole field, which is an abstract benefit with indirect impact that is hard to measure. It is also a long-term effort that requires collaborations across sectors. Needless to say that it involves considerable political and organizational risks.
We don't know if activists and social entrepreneurs within LEAP will select FOIAstarter as a partner. We just know that the nature of the initiative will not put them off.