Started in 2006, Aepoch Fund was a small experimental foundation supporting people, organizations and movements engaged in transformational work to create the conditions for all people and the planet to thrive.
During our five-year life-span, we supported those working to:
We saw the powerful role that artists, healers and activists play in linking ecological, cultural, economic, and social issues to create viable solutions to our most complex and pressing challenges.
Early on, we established a set of principles that guided our work. They were:
We made our first grants in November 2006, through the Arts Fund. Over the next two years, we created several other funding streams including the Community Healing Fund and the Creative Solutions Fund. Over the course of five years, we distributed more than $4 million in grants.
From the beginning, we took an experimental approach to our work - both in what we chose to support, and in how we operated. We were often an early seed funder, providing money to nurture out of the box ideas or approaches that might be too new or radical for other funders. We established a series of Flow Funds, which provided community leaders with small grantmaking pools dedicated to a specific purpose and an opportunity to make grant recommendations. Another successful experiment was the Aepoch Coaching Fund, which provided our grantees with access to low-cost high-quality leadership coaching. We engaged community leaders in some of our grants decision-making committees, and we created simple, flexible application and reporting processes. We also partnered with others to leverage our grantmaking, such as through the Other Worlds are Possible Giving Circle and the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation. Please see the Grants section for more details.
We also provided fiscal sponsorship for a few select projects, and occasionally hosted gatherings or conversations of interest to our community. In May 2011, we coordinated a funders briefing on disability justice called “New Intersections on Race, Justice and Disability.” If you are interested, the written materials and audio recording are available.
The inspiration to start Aepoch Fund came from Amanda Coslor and Todd Herman, who brought in Laura Loescher to help launch the organization. By design, Aepoch Fund was an ever-evolving organization. With a small staff, much of our work was undertaken by a creative group of community advisors and partners. See the list of people who served as key advisors, grants committee members, Flow Funders, staff, consultants and board members over the years.
Our day-to-day operations were conducted by a team of part-time staff and consultants who were all also engaged in other work in the world. From 2008-2011, the core team was:
Grants management and operational support was provided by Leventhal Kline Management, who provided invaluable “back-office” support and philanthropy expertise every step of the way. www.philanthropicadvisor.com
A small handful of donors provided the early financial support for Aepoch Fund. With the input of some community advisors, we decided that rather than establishing an endowment and giving away 5-10% each year as most foundations do, we would flow the money through to the community within five or six years. When about a year’s worth of financing remained, we decided that rather than seek additional funding and continue our operations, we would bring the organization to a graceful closure. We trusted that the seeds we had planted and/or fertilized with money and care over the last five years were either thriving, or could be tended by others.
While we never had a long-term endowment to manage, we were always mindful of managing our funds with investments that as closely aligned with the values underlying our grantmaking as possible. For example, we banked with Community Bank of the Bay, a local community institution in Oakland. For short-term and mid-term cash and fixed income investments, we mostly used Calvert Community Investment Notes, the Social Investment Fund at RSF Social Finance and CDs and money market funds at community development banks.