At Common Stream, we believe that people are divided by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and culture because of an unfair distribution of power and resources. This inequity harms all people and is destroying the environment for all species. We support building a progressive movement in the United States in order to realize a vision of justice, ecological integrity, and equality.


Common Stream makes grants within the following thematic areas:

Ecological Sustainability: The future of our planet as a habitable place for humans and other life forms depends on interdependent natural systems. We have chosen to fund in two discrete areas: in the first, we help to protect and sustain the health of critical eco-systems; in the second, our grantees challenge environmentally destructive forces and work to build sustainable, healthy communities for all species. 

  • Defense of Wild Areas: We focus on supporting forest and water resources protection and wilderness preservation as part of a broader effort to sustain natural eco-systems. Our grantees work to prevent logging in national forests and resource extraction in wilderness areas; to preserve critical wildlife habitat; to change the unsustainable practices of timber companies through market pressure; and to permanently protect wild places through state or federal designation, conservation easements and selective land purchase.

  • Environmental Justice: We fund organizing that combats environmental racism and classism in order to foster healthy and sustainable communities. Our grantees work in low-income communities to rid them of toxics, to resist the further targeting of their communities by military and industrial polluters, and to improve public transit, air quality, and green space. In Appalachia, we partner with community groups leading the resistance to mountaintop removal mining and pushing for investments in renewable energy and other cleaner economic alternatives. In Native America, we support grassroots groups that are defending ancestral lands against the ravages of energy and mining corporations and promoting alternative paths to economic self-sufficiency for tribal communities, including renewable energy and sustainable use of land, water and other natural resources in keeping with traditional lifeways. We also support groups that are working to protect the health, safety and human rights of farmworkers, who endure daily exposure to harmful chemicals as well as poverty, exploitation, and discrimination.

Organizing Among Marginalized Groups: Our society’s exploitative economic system benefits the few at the expense of the many. Because of historic and ongoing discrimination—based on factors like race, ethnicity, social class, gender, age, sexual identity, and physical ability—many people are pushed to the economic and social margins. We fund groups that are organizing to advance the rights and interests of their marginalized constituents but also see themselves as active participants in a broader movement for progressive change. Our grantees are rooted primarily in low-income communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities.

  • Economic Justice: We fund a wide range of community-based groups and networks that are organizing to build power and to contribute to local and systemic change. Our grantees, both urban and rural, include: tenant groups campaigning to keep their homes and keep them affordable; neighborhood organizations working to revitalize areas blighted by economic disinvestment and government neglect; immigrant and refugee organizations helping to ease transitions for new arrivals, organize to affirm their rights, and campaign for just immigration reform; Indigenous groups working to protect and sustain their cultures, for example, by reinstating traditional practices of organic agriculture; and women’s and senior citizen groups organizing for better social services, housing, and health care. We also fund community/labor coalitions that use their collective power to strengthen specific campaigns for justice and to win far-reaching policy reforms. 

  • Youth Organizing: Our emphasis is on supporting youth-led or youth-directed groups that organize around the priorities of young people in their communities. Our grantees include groups campaigning to: improve their schools and work against privatization; curb pollution and create more local green space; make neighborhoods safer; combat global warming; improve workplace safety for teens; secure more youth recreation programs and jobs; and win juvenile justice reform. Some of our grantees use hip-hop, street theatre and other forms of cultural expression to educate and mobilize young people. All of them challenge the pressures of poverty and racism that occur in the form of military recruitment and the prison/industrial complex.

  • Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Rights: Our funding supports leadership development and organizing work that, for example: improves the safety of LGBT youth in their schools and communities; promotes economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation; links with other groups in anti-war/counter recruitment campaigns; and uses theatre as a self-empowerment and community education tool. 

Special Initiatives/Discretionary: Occasionally, we provide grants in response to a particular need, crisis or historic opportunity. For example, we contributed to community relief and mobilization efforts and eco-system restoration in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We have also funded anti-war organizing, civil liberties campaigns, and voter empowerment work.