Advancing Advocacy & Civic Engagement

Posted on September 03, 2020

Our advocacy strategy first took shape in late 2016, as we joined organizations and other funders who were concerned about the future of our democracy. We knew that in order to advance education equity and a clean energy future, we had to give more attention to building the infrastructure needed to do so. After a few years of initial investments, we committed to a strategy refresh in 2019. We wanted to hear from a broader set of leaders and think more deeply about how we could best engage. We completed that work and entered 2020 with a refined strategy to guide our advocacy and civic engagement work. Our planning and input gathering included building a map of progressive organizations across Washington state. We were inspired by the breadth of efforts and we decided to maintain a strong focus on building a solid, long-term, and coordinated progressive infrastructure.

Our goal is a more equitable, just and sustainable society in Washington State that works for its people - regardless of income, race, or language. We will achieve this goal by investing in a strong and long-lasting progressive movement that, together with an engaged and well-represented population, informs and advances impactful policy solutions.

We believe there are four key areas we can invest in to strengthen the ecosystem:


For the overall movement to flourish, we need a strong underlying infrastructure and a healthy eco-system where systems-thinking is applied to identify gaps and weaknesses, along with promising solutions. We will work in partnership with the following organizations:

The success of progressive efforts depends on year-round organizing especially in underrepresented and historically marginalized communities across the state. In our landscape scan, we heard consistent feedback that these organizing efforts are significantly under-resourced. We added two organizations to our strategy that have deep trust across the state and actively engage a diverse membership in alignment with their priorities.


The progressive movement needs to understand and advance the issues impacting diverse rural communities. In Washington State, the progressive movement has historically been focused on, and supported by, King County residents. We believe this focus needs to expand to include rural communities. We made a number of grants to existing rural organizations within the State and we paired the funding with investments in national efforts to build a rural movement. These are new partnerships for SFF, and we are inspired by the leaders driving this work forward.


We believe robust economic policy is a critical aspect of the progressive movement. We also believe there is an opportunity to expand the economic focus to not only ensure an equitable, fair and just economy but also one that is sustainable and thriving. We are in the early stages of investments in organizations working to reform our economy. These organizations are primarily focused on tax policy and worker’s rights – a critical component of a fair economy.

While a significant portion of our resources will stay focused on efforts in King County, new relationships will build our knowledge in Skagit and Grays Harbor Counties. We have a few national relationships in order to gain knowledge in best practice and tools that could be deployed in Washington.

We entered new relationships with organizations before the pandemic and the resurgence of the Movement for Black Lives. Recent events have encouraged us to do additional work on our strategy. We are in the early stages of defining a racial equity strategy, which includes learning how our partners use a racial equity lens in their work. We are sharing the update on our strategy to date, and we expect to add more partners and clarity on racial equity outcomes in the near future.

We are grateful to those who shared their expertise and time, informing us as we advanced our planning. Based on input, and the need in Washington State, we increased our giving in this area. We expect to add additional grants later this year, bringing our total investment in 2020 to over $1.1m. We look forward to sharing more about the work of our new partners with you through future newsletters and foundation updates.