Published: December 08, 2022

From Surviving to Thriving: How MVP’s Capacity-Building Team is Helping Organizers Fill in Gaps

One of the building blocks within MVP is the capacity-building team. So what is it, and what does this team do exactly? We could give you the textbook definition of capacity-building, but that wouldn't do the work justice – and we also don’t want to bore you with all the jargon. So, we’d rather just give you an idea about what the capacity-building team actually does behind the scenes. Let's take a look!

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Organizers from across the country meet with MVP’s Capacity Building Director Eugenio Smith (pictured second to the top left) and Camila Cabello.

As an organization, Movement Voter Project works to strengthen progressive power at all levels of government and communities by helping donors support the most promising local organizations in key states.

But that’s not all that goes behind in supporting these movements. Within MVP, there are different teams that act as building blocks to support grassroots organizers thrive in what they do, both by strengthening their skills and creating sustainable foundations on which they can continue their work.

One of these building blocks within MVP is the capacity-building team. So what is it, and what does this team do exactly? We could give you the textbook definition of capacity-building, but that wouldn’t do the work justice – and we also don’t want to bore you with all the jargon. So, we’d rather just give you an idea about what the capacity-building team actually does behind the scenes.

The Capacity-Building program at MVP started in late 2019.The idea originated from the groups on the ground themselves — they enjoyed working with MVP, and appreciated the general operating funds, as well as the strategic thinking to help them get to scale.

Groups enjoyed being part of larger ecosystems with peers, alongside local and national funders. They also felt that their diverse communities were being seen and recognized. But to level up, partners knew they needed to build up skills and infrastructural support, and gain access to technology and digital tools.

This is where MVP’s Capacity-Building Program comes in.

To better support our partner groups, the capacity-building team helps connect grantee partners with vetted services, coaches, and facilitators to better help them access critical tools, resources, and connections to strengthen and scale their work.

By listening to, and connecting with our partner groups, MVP’s capacity-building team helps groups foster inter-movement, consent-based support to ensure offerings that are as helpful and impactful as possible. The idea is to help groups create sustainable approaches to their work and their well-being.

In 2021, the group introduced cohorts to support and provide partner organizations with the skills and resources needed not only to survive, but to adapt and thrive in the highly-demanding world of development.

Cohorts allow groups to peer-learn, as well as receive individual coaching and group trainings on designated topics, themes, and shared issues. The capacity-building team has had three cohorts, with six to 10 groups participating in each. Groups get access to other perks for being cohort members, like implementation grants and coaching.

One of those initiatives is a two-year cohort called Vision Into Power Cohort, which provides 10 grassroots organizations across the country with resources and support to accelerate and scale their impact. The cohort was launched in partnership with Actress Kerry Washington, who works closely with groups to tackle misinformation, while reminding people the importance of voting.

There’s also a Healing Justice cohort with leaders of color working to ensure that they, and their organizations can stay in the work for the long haul by prioritizing their own healing and well-being. It’s run in partnership with Cuban-Mexican American singer Camila Cabello.

Finally, the third cohort focuses on Environmental Leadership, and is geared towards helping groups develop their issue-based policy work, voter contact strategies, power-building work, and voter mobilization work with 6 groups all working in the environmental justice space. This is a 2-year cohort.

Starting in the new year, we’ll be launching a blog series to shed light on some of the actual impact of the group’s ongoing cohorts and initiatives, which aim to strengthen and support grassroots leaders and their organizations nationwide. We’ll be hearing directly from organizers on the ground who feel that their well-being, as well as grassroots work has been changed for the better by participating in these initiatives. Stay tuned!

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