“Ban the Box,” A Case Study for Public and Private Foundation Advocacy
The Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color is a network of over 40 foundations with a shared vision “that all boys and men of color will enjoy the full opportunity and inclusion in all the opportunities America has to offer.” One of the Alliance’s flagship initiatives is the Ban the Box Philanthropy Challenge. Ban the Box is a movement to stop employers from asking job applicants to “check the box” if they have been arrested or convicted of a crime. This hiring practice thwarts formerly incarcerated people — mainly men of color — from transitioning back into society and supporting themselves and their families.
Through the Ban the Box Philanthropy Challenge, the Alliance’s foundation leaders committed to end the hiring practice in their own foundations and to encourage their colleagues to do the same. But the funders took their advocacy further. In August 2015, the Alliance’s foundation leaders submitted a letter to President Obama asking him to issue an executive order to require all companies to ban the box. By November 2015, President Obama took a step forward, by banning the box from all federal government hiring practices.
The Alliance’s activities illustrate the advocacy role foundations can play. Private and public foundations can seek executive orders, influence policies in their own and business sectors, and conduct public education efforts about a pressing problem. For more details about the advocacy rules for private and public foundations, click here.
If you represent a grantmaking foundation and want to participate in the “Ban the Box Philanthropy Challenge” call-to-action, you can complete this form. Whether your foundation chooses to participate or not, this is an interesting example of advocacy to share at your foundation’s next staff or board meeting. It includes relatable and mission-driven values, clear and strategic goals, and tested and transferable advocacy activities that could benefit other causes, issues, and communities that matter to the public and private foundations.