The Movement for Black Lives, for instance, has a deep understanding of the racial justice and equity issues, forming initially as a handful of organizations before growing to a group of 150 representing different communities and different contexts, but all engaged in achieving the long-term goals of racial justice and Black liberation, Farnham says. “All those vantage points are critical to understanding the fullness of the problem.”
The movement is also an effective organizer, so much so that it is “aware of new levels of need and urgency across the communities they work in,” she says. That is, if a grant comes into one community but extreme urgency is recognized in another, they can make sure the funding is funneled to its “most urgent and effective use,” Farnham says. “What a superpower.”
Some of these nerve-center organizations are created by funders, although these need to be grounded in the superpowers Bridgespan identified to be effective, while others have formed from coalitions of nonprofits. Some start out as direct-service providers, and then see a need to “go upstream,” she says.
That’s what happened to Rosanne Haggerty, the former founder and executive director of Common Ground Community in New York City, who had a contract with the city to work on housing for the homeless. Haggerty, a MacArthur genius-grant recipient, realized others were doing similar work, and began to ask “what’s the bigger picture.” She eventually founded Community Solutions, which works with communities throughout the world on housing for vulnerable populations, and is one of six finalists in the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change contest.