One our core strategies is to strengthen and expand our network so we can effectively fund abortion and build power together. Because movements move at the speed of trust, a core component of network building focuses on not only what we work on together, but how we do it.
This year we have prioritized building healthy relationships between member organizations to create the radical collaboration necessary to ensure that 1) more people can get the care they need as they travel across states and 2) that the care and advocacy provided to these individuals is done in collaboration as a region. This means creating and implementing programs and convenings for organizations and individuals such as our Annual Summit, Regional Convenings in the South, Midwest, Northeast and West, and cohorts that work together to guide decisions for how our network moves forward.
Samantha Romero, board chair at West Fund, describes what her experience has been in this network:
“This network is in a minority in the [abortion access] movement as a whole, and we are small but mighty. It gets to the heart of why these relationships are important — holding each other accountable, making each other stronger, supporting each other. If we’re not collaborating, communicating, and building this network, we’re not going to be able to see our history, how much we’ve all grown, and impacted the work we’re each doing.”
Mars Earle also describes what it’s been like to move from being a part of Southern abortion funds to building trust across the network:
“I feel so deeply invested in collective liberation from these relationships. I am so blessed that I can show up in what feels like any city across the country, and I know someone who is down, who will open up their home, feed me, day-to-day doing important work with each other. When I think about other abortion funders in this network, I think to myself, ‘I see you, I know you, I feel less alone.’”
Four Regions, Four Regional Convenings
As of this month, 59 abortion funds have shown up for regional convenings in the self-identified regions of the South, Midwest, Northeast, and West! Regional Convenings are generative and strategic 2.5 day meetup spaces for funds where they can identify common challenges and opportunities that leverage deeper collaboration regionally, with a particular eye toward collaborative abortion funding and practical support. Other skill building topics included are racial justice, conflict transformation, organizing, security, and incident response. Regional Convenings are co-designed with member abortion funds through a leadership body called the the Network Design Team.
Year Two of Network Movement Building Lab
This network of abortion funds is uniquely positioned to grow as an organizing powerhouse, building leadership for collective action that creates cultural and political change for abortion access at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice. Organizing is building people power in order to realize a long-term political, cultural, and social strategy, collectively manifested and led by values attached to a clear yet emergent vision. This includes:
- Basebuilding: creating a political home for people to connect with each other in relationships and spaces they’ve been longing for.
- Political education: sharpening a shared analysis of 1) what’s wrong and why and 2) what it means to rigorously center love and collective liberation, and understanding our mandate from that.
- Leadership development: building skills and hands-on experience for folks to move solutions and to practice liberation in the present.
- Campaigns: building spaces for action that change the conversations that are happening in our communities (cultural change), and to intervene in how systems and policies shape our lives (political change).
The Network Movement Building Lab (NMBL) was designed by NNAF’s organizing team to shape how we see and do organizing, and to support member funds to build skills and strategies. The program included two convenings, tailored coaching, and peer support for ten participating funds, as well as virtual coaching support for another ten.
Samantha Romero describes her experience as part of NMBL:
“It just makes sense that we can’t do this alone. After being a part of NMBL, West Fund is now doing more and more to work with our partners in New Mexico since we’re sending more than half our callers there. I tell them: ‘You should join NNAF, you should join in on our values and best practices. We can show up for each other.’ Because systems of oppression and the way that capitalism has created a competition culture that collaboration actively defies, and goes counter to that, is very radical and special for us to build collective power.”