Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. All across the country, ordinary people as well as advocates and leaders are rising to protect our democracy and beat back the forces that threaten our deeply held values of equity, opportunity and inclusion.

As part of our pledge to invest $2 million over two years in initiatives and efforts to transform communities by building the power and voice of students, we are proud to announce the latest cohort of RFF Spark Initiative grantees that are mobilizing student leadership to strengthen communities.

This funding will provide the necessary resources for organizations to go beyond their comfort zones and to pursue unconventional or untested approaches. Our grantees’ work focuses on a wide range of issues affecting students across the country, from police reform and accountability to voter engagement and anti-immigration.



People for the American Way Education Foundation, $250,000: A national leader in identifying, training, and championing young change agents in communities across the country, People for the American Way Foundation will strengthen their youth leadership programs by incorporating community college students into their recruitment. These networks build and train leaders in their communities in nonprofit, business, campaign and government sectors. On Twitter @peoplefor

Engage Miami, $67,000: Responding to a demand from young people in Miami-Dade County to continue to develop new civic leaders and win policy change, this group of youth leaders will develop their year-round engagement and capacity building at Miami-Dade College. On Twitter @EngageMIA


Center for Neighborhood Leadership, $50,000: The Phoenix-based Center for Neighborhood Leadership will launch a program on two community college campuses to engage students in the organization’s police reform and accountability campaign, including efforts to end police collaboration with immigration enforcement, with the goal of creating a model for other cities across the country. On Twitter @AzCNL

Leaders Igniting Transformation, $50,000: After identifying a gap in college-age organizing in the area, Leaders Igniting Transformation will build rapid response action and long-term movement strategies in Milwaukee through issue-based campaigns on community college campuses. The effort will start with free college tuition as an organizing catalyst that will lead to greater completion rates. Through this grant, the organization will mobilize community college students to be more active in Milwaukee city policy. On Facebook at @LITFORMKE

Power Shift, $50,000: The network of young people will kick start its organizing efforts into community colleges across Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Minnesota to build an environmental campaign that integrates, energizes and mobilizes community college students. On Twitter @powershiftnet

Tides Movement Voter Fund for its support of Student Power Alliances, $250,000: A national network of state-based student organizations supported by Tides Movement Voter Fund will bolster its community college organizing efforts in Michigan, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania to strengthen student voices and win structural changes that improve students’ lives, developing various models for organizing community college students for statewide youth organizations.


MOVE San Antonio, $50,000: The grassroots, community organizing-focused nonprofit will produce a toolkit designed by community college students to help their fellow students and 73 campuses across the Alamo Colleges district, one of the largest in the country, deal with the crisis affecting undocumented students and international students in the current anti-immigration climate. On Twitter @movesanantonio

The Roosevelt Institute, $250,000: Through its Leverage Re:Public Project, the Roosevelt Institute will elevate community college student voices in the policy process and build long-term civic leadership by launching student-led campaigns that push back against corporate power. The national organization will build local capacity among young people to protect the public good across Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico and Texas. On Twitter @rooseveltinst

More in News & Resources