Social justice organizations thrive with longer, larger, and more flexible grants.

In 2015, the Ford Foundation launched its Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) initiative, now a $2 billion dollar commitment aimed at reimagining philanthropy and centered on trusting grantees.

BUILD grantees share their views on how this approach to grantmaking has strengthened their
organization and their work.

“I like to think of BUILD as having the peace of mind to know that the work you do matters and it matters that you do it well,” says Purity Kagwiria. “BUILD is allowing us the space to think strategically on what scale looks like. Most donors will think of scale in terms of numbers. BUILD has allowed us to think about scale in terms of ideas and how we think about our work and how we think about ourselves and just realizing that institutions are grown by individuals who are growing themselves.”


Marcia Smith, President & Co-Founder, Firelight
Purity Kagwiria, Former Executive Director, Akili Dada
Nancy Northup, President & CEO, Center for Reproductive Rights
Heather McGhee, Trustee Emeritus & Former President, Demos

We’re reimagining philanthropy—BUILD provides 5-year general operating support grants and dedicated funding for institutional strengthening to grantee partners to build more durable, resilient, and impactful organizations and networks to combat inequality.

Other videos in this series

Text: "We believe in resilience in people" with a smiling photo of Heather McGhee.

We believe in resilience in People featuring Heather McGhee

Heather McGhee, trustee emeritus and former president of Demos, shares how BUILD allowed Demos to create a diversity, equity, and inclusion program, as well as build staff leadership skills.

Text: "We believe in resilience in strategy" with a smiling photo of Nancy Northup.

We believe in resilience in strategy featuring Nancy Northup

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, shares how BUILD allowed the Center to engage their staff to shape a global organizational strategy created from the bottom up.

Text: "We believe in resilience in finance" with a smiling photo of Marcia Smith.

We believe in resilience in financing featuring Marcia Smith

Marcia Smith, president and co-founder of Firelight, shares how the Ford Foundation’s BUILD initiative allowed the production company to create a strategic plan for their long-term financing.

Text: "We believe in resilience in systems" with a smiling photo of Purity Kagwiria.

We believe in resilience in systems featuring Purity Kagwiria

Akili Dada, a leadership incubator for girls and young women across East Africa, was one of BUILD’s first grantees. Purity Kagwiria, former Executive Director, shares how BUILD allowed Akili Dada to create a security policy for field work, strengthening its impact.

A graphic of the word BUILD.

Building institutions and networks to fight inequality

Organizations that are working to reduce inequality need support for their long-term goals, while they focus on day-to-day operations and immediate challenges. The Ford Foundation’s BUILD program is specially designed to do this, by providing flexible funding and fostering connections to other organizations working with ideas that are changing the world.