How We Make Change Happen

At North Star Fund, we make change happen by pooling the contributions of our donors and making grants to grassroots activist groups tackling some of New York City's most critical issues.

We provide resources for communities to elevate their concerns and to change the laws that fuel injustice and indifference.  


What do we mean by making deeper changes?

By deeper changes, we mean community-led solutions that aren't just band-aids to current problems, but that seek to end discriminatory policies and practices and to provide sustainable alternatives that expand opportunity for every person and every community.

How is donor activism integral to social change?

Since our founding in 1979, we have invested nearly $44 million in 1,800 grassroots organizations on the frontlines of change in their neighborhoods and communities.

This has been possible because North Star Fund donors have come together to pool their resources, to encourage the involvement of friends and family, and to build a progressive donor community that has supported some of the most exciting and necessary grassroots campaigns of our time—activism that is integral to social change.

Our grant decisions are made by our activist-led Community Funding Committee, working in partnership with donors and board members.

What victories have North Star Fund Grantees won?

North Star Fund takes risks on new and emerging organizations responding to pressing problems in their neighborhoods. Very often, North Star Fund is an organization's first funder. In recent years, we have expanded our grants programs to reward those groups and coalitions that have become among the most impactful grassroots groups in New York City. In addition to grants, North Star Fund provides workshops and trainings through our Movement Leadership and Technical Assistance programs in partnership with other New York City funders.  

North Star Fund’s model of donor organizing and strategic philanthropy has resulted in a host of victories. Several are highlighted here:

  • Our Education Justice Fund has raised and distributed $600,000 to the member organizations of the Coalition for Education Justice and the Urban Youth Collaborative. These coalitions have brought together thousands of parents and students to shape the debate on school reform during the 2013 Mayoral race. This included a new role for parents in setting school policies, charting school accountability, and ending “zero-tolerance” suspension policies that turn too many youth out of school and onto the streets.
  • Following decades of funding to challenge racial profiling and encourage police accountability, North Star Fund Power Coalition grantee Communities United For Police Reform emerged as a dynamic coalition that shaped the 2013 Mayoral race and led to significant victories on curbing “stop and frisk” the same year. 
  • Grantee partner organizations collaborated for years to ensure passage of a 2014 law providing municipal ID cards for New York City residents, making it easier for new immigrants, homeless, youth, and others to access city services, open a bank account, or enroll children in public school. 

Do you want to get involved in a vibrant donor community?

Contact Helen Stillman, Donor Program Director, via email or (212) 620-9110. 

line next