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.

Firelight, a production company that makes documentary films by and about communities of color, was one of BUILD’s first grantees. Marcia Smith, president and co-founder, shares how BUILD allowed Firelight to create a strategic plan for their long-term financing.

“Ford is really onto something in offering general support, infrastructure support, capacity building support, and multi-year support,” she says. “To have BUILD come in and say essentially we believe in Fireflight, we believe in your vision, we want to support you⁠—it’s a huge gift.”

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 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.

Text: "We believe in building resilience" with a collage of headshots of Heather McGhee, Purity Kagwiria, Nancy Northup, and Marcia Smith.

We believe in Building Resilience in Social Justice Organizations

The Ford Foundation’s BUILD grantees share their views on how receiving longer, larger, more flexible grants has strengthened their organization and their work, and made them reimagine philanthropy.

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.