Radical Grantmakers the Waymakers Collective Gifts $4.5 Million to Appalachia
The Group's Funding Strategy Is Part of a Growing Movement Disrupting Philanthropy Through Community-led and Controlled Giving
The Collective Seeks to Usher in "Appalachian Futurism" by Supporting BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and Immigrant Artists and Groups Often Overlooked by Traditional Endowment Sources
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., May 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The Waymakers Collective (Waymakers), practitioners of "radical grantmaking" in the heart of Appalachia, strive to empower the region by directing $4.5 million in funding to those often overlooked and underserved by traditional philanthropy. Rejecting business as usual grantmaking rife with gatekeeping, appropriation, and the erasure of community stakeholders, the Waymakers work to fund the artists, activists, and culture bearers already serving the community. The group uses the distribution of monetary gifts to challenge traditional power dynamics between foundations and grantees, to recalibrate perceptions toward "Appalachian Futurism," an inclusive destiny for the region rooted in equitable justice, creative cooperation, and sustainable stewardship.
"Our approach to radical grantmaking uses a bottom-up approach that is rooted in our being a part of the communities we are seeking to serve by not only giving them access to funding but allowing them to join in the governance and decision-making processes that manage the fund as a whole," said Joe Tolbert, Jr. of Art at the Intersections, who serves as program director of the Waymakers facilitation team. "We know that our region is more diverse than the cultural narratives show, so the path to Appalachian Futurism where every culture is seen and celebrated is one where not only funds are redistributed, but that power is redistributed as well."
The group's facilitation team is currently led by Tolbert, along with Lora Smith, a renowned area thought leader and co-founder of the Appalachian Impact Fund, and Tanya Torp of CVA, a sought-after facilitator. The Waymakers organizational structure keeps it enmeshed within the fabric of the Appalachian community and organizations that it serves as it includes Philanthropic Collaborators who partner with the group regarding funding, New Giftees, who are recommended by voting members, The "Appalcore" who are elected members that oversee the governance of the fund, and the Assembly Cooperative who make up the voting membership. The fiscal sponsor for the Waymakers is the Appalachian Community Fund (AFC).
In championing radical grantmaking, a revolutionary concept in hyperlocal support that benefits community organizations and individuals through direct grant distribution, the Waymakers are part of a national movement creating a new paradigm in philanthropy. The distributed gifts, which currently range from $5-30K each, are lifelines for smaller niche organizations whose vital work might not attract the attention of larger, deep-pocketed foundations. Through an intentional nominations process, the Waymakers identify these grassroots organizers and artists who are often missing at the table - especially those who don't even know that funding is available for their work. Then the Waymakers make the application process as easy and accessible as possible to fully tap into the spaces, places, and people that grantmaking often does not reach.
"The most affirming part of receiving this funding is how we have been trusted and respected throughout the process. Trusted to create the work we visioned, trusted to be a steward of the money, and the respect of the project itself," said Mitzi Sinnott, CEO of All Here Together, a recipient of a gift from the Waymakers. "Typically, grant applications are so far from the creative brain, it feels more like writing a dissertation for a master's program. That kind of grantmaking is gatekeeping, and questions are filled with back-handed credentialing. I'm grateful for the Waymakers process."
All Here Together received support from the Waymakers to create murals honoring the local Black history of Huntington, West Virginia.
The Waymakers strive to sustain creative practice, land, livelihoods, and dialogue across neighborhoods and disciplines. They envision an Appalachia that supports community joy, imagination, hopes, and wisdom.
About the Waymakers Collective
Launched in 2022, the Waymakers Collective are radical grantmakers in the heart of Appalachia seeking to disrupt traditional philanthropy. They sustain community organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, young people, LGBTQ folks, Spanish speakers, new immigrants, and those unlikely to get mainstream funding. The group uses the distribution of monetary gifts to challenge traditional power dynamics between foundations and grantees, to recalibrate perceptions toward "Appalachian Futurism," an inclusive destiny for the region rooted in equitable justice, creative cooperation, and sustainable stewardship. Please visit waymakerscollective.org or follow the Waymakers Collective on Facebook or @WaymakersCo on Instagram for more information.
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SOURCE The Waymakers Collective