building community power


SJF Works for Justice Through Connection and Trust

Guest Post: Gabriela Robles, Chief Executive

Our diversity doesn’t diminish our interconnectedness. It’s our responsibility to care for one another, regardless of differences. Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” But how do we put those words into action in today’s world?

There are many steps, but the two that stand out to me are intentional connection and community power building. Tying these together is the idea that decisions should be made by those most impacted. The St. Joseph Fund (SJF) evolved from sitting with leaders to learn from them to better understand their needs. Rather than SJF as the funder directing how to “fix” an issue, our job is to help them dig in to find their power. And to recognize that their voice is just as important as any other.

In the early days of SJF, our dialogue centered around how we could help organizations improve capacity. As we have evolved, the conversations have shifted based on connection and trust. The shift towards trust-based philanthropy sees nonprofits and communities as leaders in change. Our partners aren’t limited by restrictions we place on them; instead, they are comfortable saying, “Our community needs funds in support of this facet of our work more.”

We didn’t know then how we would evolve or the impact we could create while we work for justice. But we are here now, and we are proud of our path. Intentional and rooted in love and trust, we continue to build communities that are lively, hopeful, and just.


If you are interested in learning more about SJF’s community power-building work, I hope you’ll connect with us on LinkedIn.