The Labor Innovations for the 21st Century (LIFT) Fund seeks to foster an environment of learning, experimentation, and innovation that provides value for the broader field of worker organizing and for fund members. Established in 2011 as a partnership between the American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and philanthropic institutions, the LIFT Fund is a first-of-its-kind fund supporting collaboration and innovation around new forms of worker organizing.
The fund is led by a Steering Committee, composed of representatives from the AFL-CIO, philanthropic institutions including Omidyar Network, Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Solidago Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Fund, as well as representatives from academia. Now in its tenth year, LIFT focuses on grantmaking, funder and field learning, convenings, and the dissemination of research and learnings. With $14M in committed and pending contributions, LIFT aims to raise approximately $23M total for its national and southern work in the next 2-3 years. LIFT is fiscally sponsored by the Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG).
Grant-Making: LIFT focuses on moving resources into the field through grants to worker organizations that are engaged in cutting edge strategies for building worker power in collaboration with a labor union partner. The grants provide critical, on the ground support, as well as a means toward broader learning and strategy development within the field. LIFT strives to invest in experimental work and then disseminate those learnings to a broader audience of funders, field leaders, labor leaders, and others.
Convening Spaces: LIFT creates spaces for learning and strategic conversations for field leaders as well as funders. A flagship program of the LIFT Fund is its regular national and regional convenings, designed as spaces for strategic conversations leading to new ideas, collaboration, and experiments in worker organizing.
Documentation and Research: Since its founding, LIFT has supported various research projects documenting innovations in worker organizing. This year, the fund supported research that led to the recently published article, Platform Power to the People, which focused on digital strategies and tactics for worker organizing.
A Learning Hub: The fund serves as a dynamic space for funders and grantees to learn and experiment together, develop new strategies, and document the impact of these unique contributions and investments to advance the labor movement. Key activities for funders include: the creation of a Learning Agenda to analyze the work and shape grantmaking; and Learning Days, which are opportunities for LIFT funders to be on the ground with grantees. In the midst of the pandemic and a significant shift to online work, the fund has supported the creation of a peer learning space between grantees and other labor organizations to think strategically on how to enhance their digital worker organizing strategies.
The Executive Director will be guided by and work in partnership with a highly engaged Steering Committee. Working closely with the two co-chairs, currently representatives of the Ford Foundation and AFL-CIO, they will set the strategic direction of the fund and leverage a diversity of perspectives and experiences to advance worker justice through LIFT.
Vision and Strategic Leadership
- In partnership with the Steering Committee, articulate and advance a vision for philanthropy’s role in supporting worker justice and connecting the labor movement to community well-being and prosperity.
- Center racial and gender justice in the strategy, with intentional focus on the experience of workers of color that reflects and advances the long-term power shift sought through the movement.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy in partnership with the Steering Committee to move resources to build worker power and identify key innovations to build bargaining power and reign in corporate power.
- Champion and lead the development of LIFT’s Southern Workers Opportunity Fund, building the capacity, infrastructure, and regional and national presence.
External Relationships & Partner Cultivation
- Identify, develop, and cultivate potential philanthropic, labor, and individual donor partners to provide financial and strategic support to LIFT by leveraging the strong commitment of current funders and the national spotlight on the conditions of workers.
- Position LIFT as critical resource and convening ground for strategy development between labor and philanthropy; represent the LIFT Fund externally, promoting the strategy and work of grantees to raise awareness of the importance of worker rights nationally and engaging with key actors and stakeholders to advance campaigns on issues of direct relevance to LIFT.
- Develop a strategy and process for prospective funding partners to formally engage in the work of LIFT.
Programmatic & Organizational Management
- Working closely with staff and Steering Committee, analyze the opportunity landscape, identifying high potential organizations and fostering connections across the broader ecosystem that together will form the necessary coalitions, collaborative spaces, and grantee partners to support the strategy.
- Identify opportunities to enhance the learning agenda and capacity building in the network, ensuring strong connections between local and national actors that lead to collaboration, co-creation, and synergy between partners, as well as LIFT’s presence in the national conversation on worker justice.
- Lead the organization through a period of growth, including the development of a robust staff team and the alignment of operations, systems, and policies to sustain continued growth.
- In partnership with NFG, oversee operating and grantmaking budgets, ensuring reporting and compliance requirements are met.
Steering Committee Partnership and Governance
- Leverage the connections and counsel of the Steering Committee to further LIFT’s reach and build innovative partnerships with key organizations, labor partners, and networks.
- Build on a strong culture of partnership and collaboration between the Steering Committee and Executive Director to continue to foster transparency, clear communication, and trust with an overall focus on mission.
- Ensure organizational resources effectively serve and support LIFT’s mission and strategic goals through effective planning and accountability systems.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
The Executive Director will pair a passion for advancing worker justice with a sophisticated understanding of both labor and philanthropy’s roles in supporting movement building. While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
Connection to the Mission
- Passionate commitment to worker rights, economic justice, and the labor movement; lived experience that informs a deep understanding of the historic fight for racial and economic justice and its relationship to the labor movement, preferably within the context of the Southern United States and/or in communities of color.
- Familiarity with the field of philanthropy and experience working with or inside organized labor; nuanced understanding of how strategy is developed in each, and the ability to leverage those differences for shared impact.
- Understanding of the larger civil rights movement and the role labor, faith groups, civic engagement, and community organizing play in advancing the rights of people. Savvy to position the LIFT Fund’s work into national conversations about the future of work, labor, and racial, gender, and economic justice.
- Experience developing theories of change and grantmaking strategy in partnership with a broad coalition of partners and funders.
- Demonstrated record of success in leading an organization through growth and in diversifying fundraising through increasing investment from a range of new and current funders.
- Strategic thinking and innovative curiosity required to operate in a dynamic landscape paired with the ability to successfully implement complex strategies.
- Familiarity with the potential partner and grantee landscape including worker organizing, worker organizations (such as worker centers, labor unions and other emerging worker organizations), and knowledge of base building, faith-based organizing, and other forms in which people build power in their communities.
- Authentic and sophisticated communicator (written and verbal) with the confidence to step into the spotlight when the moment calls and a leaderful approach to share that with others.
- Innate ability to foster and manage relationships across sectors, interest areas, levels of seniority, and personality types.
- Outstanding project management skills with the ability to drive complex, multi-faceted initiatives forward to deliver high quality results on time; advanced problem-solving and decision-making skills and the ability to multitask in a dynamic and growing environment.
- Team orientation and collaborative spirit required in a small and growing organization; self-starter with the ability to work independently toward common goals and objectives.
- Highly positive and enthusiastic style; can-do attitude paired with a collaborative and inclusive style.
- Bachelor’s degree preferred or the combination of 10 years of relevant lived and professional experience applicable to the role.
The salary range for this position is between $140,000-160,000. Through NFG, LIFT offers a comprehensive benefits package.
More information about the LIFT Fund may be found at: https://theliftfund.org
This search is being led by Carolyn Ho, Andres Marcuse-Gonzalez, and Catherine Seneviratne of NPAG. Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Candidates may submit their cover letter, outlining their interest and qualifications, along with their resume via NPAG’s candidate portal.
The LIFT Fund and NFG are equal opportunity
employers that do not discriminate on the basis of race, color,
religion or belief, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sex
(including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions),
gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or any other
status protected by law. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people
are strongly encouraged to