New Frontiers for CRIF

from the desk of Dr. Ramatu Bangura, CRIF’s Founding Director & Purposeful’s Co-CEO

Dear CRIF Friends & Colleagues,

As the Children’s Rights Innovation Fund (CRIF) prepares to celebrate its fourth year, we are thinking about our role, our longevity as an organization, and what the current moment calls for as we work to advance the mission of making children’s rights real and shifting resources to child and youth organizers. This reflective moment has led us to an exciting new phase of our work and we are happy to share it with you.

In 2024, CRIF will join forces with Purposeful to strengthen our collective and individual philanthropic reach, operations and influence. By leveraging shared infrastructure, we will be able to deepen and expand our grant-making footprint while reducing costs and building longer-term sustainability for both brands. CRIF will become a “project with” Purposeful, but with continued stand-alone brands and distinct areas of influence that allow for each organization to strategically retain and grow familiarity, credibility, influence, and relevance in their respective spaces, under the shared leadership of Dr. Ramatu Bangura and Rosa Bransky as co-CEOs.

We are excited for where we are. We have moved $500K USD to youth movements globally, we have engaged well over 100 youth organizers in our community of youth grantmakers and activists, we have held 5 gatherings to create community and advance a more liberatory analysis for the children’s rights sector. Most recently, we have just launched What’s Possible, an experiential learning institute and pooled fund that seeks a transformation in how the philanthropic sector fosters children’s rights and funds the work that child and youth organizers do to advance those rights. What’s Possible exemplifies our commitment to cultivate courageous and collaborative spaces for the children and youth -focused philanthropic sectors. Through What’s Possible a variety of funders– from iNGOs to private philanthropy– will better coordinate to move resources and re-orient themselves around their commitments to young people.

That work (and so much more!) continues in this new partnership but will be stronger, better resourced and in community with our long-time allies and siblings in this work — Purposeful.

Some questions we anticipate

Why Now?

Beyond the practicalities of operational and fundraising realities, we also see an opportunity to connect our donor organizing and strategizing at a moment when silos are limiting and far too common. We believe — as students of social movement history — that we need less individual institutions and more strategic, connected, collaborative work. In a time when movement solidarity is more important than ever to consolidate gains and effectively coalesce to hold ground and advance a wider vision, the potential to partner and co-lead towards our collective goals presents a profound opportunity for individual institutions and for the field writ large.

Who will lead CRIF?

Ramatu will continue to lead CRIF initiatives. In addition, as co-CEOs, Rosa and Ramatu will share leadership of Purposeful, the umbrella organization. Whilst we will both hold overall organizational responsibility for the ‘whole’, we will share some tasks and divide others in a phased approach that allows time for the integration to embed in the first year.

What will happen to the CRIF team?

The entire CRIF team will join the Purposeful team administratively and operationally, similar to our current arrangement with our current fiscal sponsor. However, CRIF will continue to operate as a unit stewarding the work of the organization. They will continue to be supervised by Ramatu. As we have done since the inception of our grantmaking, Purposeful will ensure that we are able to move resources to both registered and unregistered youth-led groups.

CRIF has also been supported by our advisory board, or HUB, that has provided oversight, strategic advice and compliance support. That body will remain intact including the participation of our youth HUB members.

Will CRIF now be a feminist fund?

CRIF has always been a children’s rights fund that is grounded in feminist values of supporting movements, of ensuring that we are led by those most impacted by the social ills that we hope to eliminate, of centering the stories of those organizing, and of being led and driven by social movements. This will not change.

Why partner with Purposeful?

Just as Purposeful has employed a ‘big tent’ model as it has grown, so too has CRIF been deeply intentional about hardwiring collaboration and collective action into its strategies. As both a funder and learning organization committed to solidarity with existing and emerging child and youth movements, it sees its role to “rally our people”– adult advocates, funders, and policy makers — to move better and provide more funding to youth organizing.

What is a “A Project With” model?

The “project with” model will be built around four dimensions: (a) fiscal management; (b) administration and operations; (c) programmatic and grantmaking; and (d) advocacy and influence.

Fiscal management: Purposeful will assume fiscal management of CRIF. This will include fiduciary oversight & compliance, financial management, human resources and budgeting. CRIF will embed itself into the budget structure of Purposeful while maintaining oversight over its budgeting.

Administration and Operations: Purposeful and CRIF will align its staffing structure, strategies and work plans so that they will mirror one another but will sustain CRIF’s autonomy.

Programs & Grantmaking: CRIF’s grantmaking and community of youth grantmakers, the Constituency, will join the broader community of Purposeful’s programs and grantmaking. As both organizations do participatory grantmaking, our teams will work collectively to strengthen those processes internally. As CRIF and Purposeful have done since CRIF’s inception, we will share the administration of the grants, due diligence, and the relationship management.

Advocacy & Influence: One of the potential strengths of the partnership will be in maintaining distinct spheres of influence that CRIF and Purposeful move in. While Purposeful has as a key space of advocacy feminist funders and movements, CRIF seeks to advance more meaningful youth engagement in the children’s rights sector. However, we know that these two spaces often fail to speak to each other with the consequence of adolescent girls’ rights and youth movements falling through the cracks. CRIF’s autonomy is not just critical for the sake of CRIF’s existence but it acts as a voice tailored to the children’s rights space that the sector can feel ownership of. By maintaining both brands we advocate in our respective spaces while recognizing that the silos that philanthropic organizations enforce rarely apply to the work we are supporting.

We ask for your support and patience as we chart this new path. Our intention continues to be to “make children’s rights real” but in deeper community with an expanded reach and a stronger infrastructure. We look forward to sharing what we learn with you.

Always in solidarity,

Dr. Ramatu Bangura