Conflict Transformation Fund (CTF) is a short-term philanthropic initiative with a long-term vision. We were launched as an individual donor project in 2016 and began making grants in 2017. We recognize that building conflict literacy in progressive movements is a decades-long project, and as such, we see CTF’s initial funds as seed capital. We are using these resources to identify the conflict transformation strategies that can make major impacts, while also seeding basic capacity for this work that can be built upon by others in the future.
We invite peer funders who share a commitment to building healthier, more effective movements to join us in carrying this work forward. To explore possible collaboration, please be in touch!
If you are an organization seeking funding, please note that we are a small fund with limited resources and limited staff capacity. As such, we discourage unsolicited proposals. We do appreciate input and advice from leaders in the field about how CTF can have the greatest impact in supporting conflict transformation within progressive movements. Please feel welcome to email us to offer your perspectives.
CTF sees opportunities to increase conflict literacy in progressive movements through both “supply” side and “demand” side interventions. Supply-side interventions include developing conflict literacy tools, training, consulting, facilitation, and mediation services as well as improving the accessibility, quality and/or cultural and political relevance of those tools. Demand-side interventions include resourcing organizations to access needed services and raising the profile of conflict literacy. Because we have identified a dearth of culturally appropriate resources available to progressive movements to support them in working well with conflict, we have chosen to focus first on supply-side interventions as CTF’s initial strategic direction.
In our 2019 grantmaking, CTF focused on:
- Resourcing progressive training and capacity building groups to develop their analysis, curricula, and other offerings on conflict literacy;
- Adapting conflict tools and expertise developed by/for other sectors for use in progressive movements; and
- Engaging innovative leaders and practitioners to develop new practices, or to raise the profile of conflict literacy.
generative somatics (gs) offers a pragmatic and actionable approach to embodied transformation on an individual, organizational, and movement level. gs programs focus on healing from the impacts of trauma and developing embodied leadership skills that concretely strengthen our movements.
CTF provided a grant to support the annual gs Teacher Training, which is described as ‘the central fire’ of their work. Generative conflict is one of five key competencies taught in this training. The teachers trained by gs are bringing important conflict skills into a variety of movements.
Irresistible (formally Healing Justice Podcast) convenes a community of practice in collective healing and social change. Their powerful conversation episodes and practice exercises reach over 20,000 organizers, healers, and movement-makers weekly.
CTF provided a grant to contribute towards the production of a series of episodes titled “Principled Conflict,” which will explore conflicts that sabotage us in our social movements, organizations, and personal journeys toward liberation. The series, to be developed in partnership with The Wildfire Project, will feature front-line organizations sharing about their reflections from working intentionally with conflict.
Mediators Beyond Borders International has over 200 professional mediation, conflict transformation, trauma recovery and academic specialists who have worked successfully with partners in 33 countries on five continents and within the US.
CTF provided a grant to launch MBBI’s new initiative: Democracy, Politics, and Conflict Engagement (DPACE). DPACE engages a team of conflict professionals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Together they have coalesced their practices and approaches into the DPACE Conflict Literacy Framework.
Movement Strategy Center (MSC) is a national leader in transformational social-justice movement building with 300+ partner grassroots organizations, alliances, and networks that operate at local, regional, and national levels. In 2014, MSC launched the Transitions Initiative to catalyze powerful, effective strategy and action to transition from a world of domination, extraction, and violence to a world of regeneration, interdependence, and love. MSC sees generative conflict principles and practices as having gifts to offer the work for a just transition.
CTF provided a grant to support MSC’s development of a workbook that provides exercises to help others embrace the gifts of conflict. Some of the inquiries being explored are:
- There are no disposable people, so how do we find ways to address conflict that doesn’t cut us off from each other?
- How do we approach conflict when someone does not follow through on commitments?
- How do we have accountability conversations in a way that’s generative, and honors the humanity of everyone involved?
- When and if we recognize that we have caused harm, how should we approach it?
- When navigating concerns of a community member who unconsciously causes harm, what is the process of accountability?
- How do we distinguish between conflict as a disagreement between two people versus conflict that’s more about subtle abuse and manipulation?
SEEDS and Justice Funders are partnering to offer a four-week e-learning opportunity for movement leaders and social justice activists to increase conflict literacy in service of increasing movement impact. CTF provided a grant to support the training. Both organizations believe that building the conflict engagement literacy of social justice activists will create stronger relationships, improve collaborative problem solving and increase movement impact.
As a community organization, SEEDS works to increase the capacity of individuals, groups, and organizations to build healthy relationships and to restore relationships in the face of conflict. Justice Funders is a partner and guide for philanthropy in reimagining practices that advance a thriving and just world.
Social Transformation Project (STP) works with 300 of the most capable and promising leaders and activists in the social and economic justice, civil and human rights, peace, and environmental movements. STP focuses on facilitating movement collaboration, network development & management, and capacity-building.
CTF provided a grant for STP to engage skilled conflict mediators and transformative justice practitioners to design and implement a process of addressing interpersonal harm within a movement. While the process is initially being tested in one specific situation, STP plans to share the insights they gain that will be applicable to others facing “cancellation” in our current movement culture.
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a national network of 125 chapters in 48 states working to undermine white supremacy and to advance racial justice. It is one part of a multi-racial, cross-class movement centering people of color leadership.
CTF provided a grant to SURJ to innovate a model for a national organization to support volunteer-driven local chapters in navigating the conflicts that often occur in this type of work. SURJ will train coaches who support the local chapters so the members are better able to increase their conflict skills and resiliency.
Training for Change (TfC) is a training and capacity building organization for activists and organizers. Pedagogically, they believe experiential training and empowerment-based facilitation is vital to progressive and social justice movement building. Conflict literacy – the awareness and skillset to leverage conflict for healing, learning, and growth – is an essential component of their approach.
CTF provided a grant to support the evolution of a conflict skills toolbox and directly support TfC’s most advanced workshop, the Transformational Training, a 5-day experiential workshop focused on navigating deep individual and group transformation around conflict, self-limiting beliefs, and embodied awareness.
The Wildfire Project works to transform the dominant culture of activism in our society. Its purpose is to strengthen movements across sectors by spreading a culture of powerful groups – groups that are resilient in the face of changing terrain, who know how to strategize, are grounded in history and their vision, have a connection to a “north star” bigger than themselves, have healthy internal practices, know how to build across identity, and are prepared to grow and win.
CTF initially supported Wildfire’s Winter Camp, which convened 100 progressive movement leaders in the weeks following the 2016 US elections. CTF has continued support through 2019 for Wildfire’s comprehensive work strengthening groups’ abilities to surface and attend to generative conflict.
Conflict Transformation Fund (CTF) engages fellows to conduct research, explore and experiment with processes for generative conflict. CTF’s current fellows are:
adrienne maree brown is a social justice facilitator and mediator with Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute in Detroit. She works with groups centering Black liberation, including the Movement for Black Lives, BYP100, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, the Majority and Black Lives Matter Global Network. She’s the author/editor of four books, including Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism. As a CTF fellow, adrienne is documenting practices for successful ‘kitchen table mediation’ — informal, third-party facilitation of conflicts — and sharing models with others to increase access to conflict transformation as a core movement skill and practice. This blog posts gives a delicious taste of the book adrienne is currently working on about Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation. Stay tuned for the book’s release date.
Yotam Marom is an organizer, facilitator, and writer based in New York City, and is the founder of The Wildfire Project. Over the past years, as both a facilitator and organizer, he has seen that good strategy is often blocked by difficult group dynamics – the normal stresses of working together, political disagreements rarely discussed, and the inevitable tensions around power and rank, often played out through the lenses of race, class, and gender. As a CTF fellow, Yotam explored the cross-section of conflict facilitation and strategic planning and published the article Moving Toward Conflict for the Sake of Good Strategy.
CTF launched its grantmaking program in the aftermath of the 2016 election, when we saw a surge in hate crimes, political divisiveness, and increased awareness of the oppression and injustice built into our social institutions. In this environment, we directed our early funding to groups teaching skills for conflict de-escalation, bystander intervention, and dialoguing across differences. Grant recipients included Hollaback!, Resolve Center for Dispute Resolution and Restorative Justice, Love Army, and a B’nai Jeshurun synagogue. In response to our growing awareness of the impact of conflicts within progressive movements, we have since evolved our strategy to prioritize the interventions described above.