Cover and pages of The Possibility Logs.

The Possibility Logs Vol. 1: Our Journey Since Launch

Introducing the Possibility Logs—our quarterly report that is inspired by the record-keeping logs used by lab scientists and sea captains alike to share with you the stories and syntheses of our observations and musings, expectations and outcomes, learnings and insights, and open-ended questions that keep our curiosity churning.

Greetings from our journey two years in...

Our first exploration was simple and straightforward—to discover the possibilities of this hypothesis:

If bold visionaries are supported by a new ecosystem of agile, creative, and accountable partners with the empathy and expertise to operationalize their vision and mission, then they can catalyze, grow, and sustain power and wealth for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and systematically oppressed communities.

Since our launch, we’ve been in discovery and experimentation mode, co-creating and learning with a diverse and expansive group of value-aligned trailblazers. These extraordinary leaders are bucking the status quo and piloting innovative ways to resource and grow community-led economic development models. From grassroot organizers, activists, and social entrepreneurs to philanthropic funders, impact investors, and individual donors, we’ve been entrusted to dive in deep alongside them to help operationalize their visions for a just economy.

Beyond the numbers, we also share what it’s like growing a new organization as an emerging intermediary in the field: from prioritizing team culture, co-designing product and infrastructure solutions, and scaling (and sometimes scrapping) processes, to nurturing and stewarding relationships, working cross- functionally as a remote team, and navigating big P and little p power dynamics.

We are grateful that we can pause and reflect on the past two years—and we thank you for believing in us.

This is The Possibility Logs, Volume 1: Our Journey Since Launch.

In Solidarity,

Keiko Murase and Lem White

CO-CEOs of Possibility Labs

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Co-Creation is About Community, Connection, and the Cosmos

In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be releasing our inaugural Possibility Logs, an annual-report-style reflection on our first two years. Volume I: Our Journey Since Launch is a humble sharing of stories created, partnerships built, and lessons learned since we started this journey in September 2020.

Partners want to be co-creative, but more expansively so:

Automating transactional infrastructure (e.g., streamlined financial reports) to improve cumbersome processes was the first step in our co-creation process. And we learned from early conversations, such as with Ain Bailey from New Seneca Village, that partners don’t want a transactional “babysitter” to pull reports—they want strategic partners who can help with out-of-the box thinking.

Co-creation became less about us just building a new suite of technical tools tailored for social movements, but in how these tools make the space for a generative partnership to even exist. Our information infrastructure pulls automatic financial reports without any of us chasing down numbers. Instead, we have the time back to co-create together new enterprise solutions such as e-commerce, stock sales, land purchases, horizontal leadership structures, and multi-stakeholder cooperative models.

Beyond the tools for success, though, what inspires us most towards a philosophy of co-creation is the community wisdom that grounds and guides many of the movement leaders with whom Possibility Labs has partnered. Below, we share some words of wisdom from the leaders of Discover Community Café, CALOR, and Indigenous Healing Center.

Krystle Chipman | she/her

Founder of Discover Community Café
FSP since April 2022

“Co-creation means creating space for diverse people who reflect the community, to use their gifts and genius to design, plan and build something amazing together.”

Discover Community Cafe leverages the power of food and community to create good jobs for women overcoming barriers to employment, champion local entrepreneurs & businesses, and cultivate a space that ignites connection and honors the greatness in every human. 

Mauricio Nuñez | he/him

Founder of CALOR
FSP since May 2022

“Co-creation is a dance of interconnectedness. Experiencing this relational process enables us to create with each other. It’s the ability to connect, synchronize and align with how each of us is moving. Systems transformation is an investigative journey outward to the macrocosm as well as an inward to our own perceptions. With all those cosmologies and ontologies, this dance moves us towards communion on this path of co-creation.”

CALOR exists to support Indigenous peoples’ culture, livelihoods and leadership in landscape governance and integrated landscape management by providing capacity building, technical assistance, and access to finance and markets.

Luna Hernandez Ramirez | she/her

Co-Executive Director, Operations & Community Relations at Indigenous Healing Center (IHC),
FSP since July 2022

“On our journey so far as an emerging Native organization, we have learned that we must hold fast to our values, principles, worldviews, and cultures, because we’re navigating stress systems that are not designed to meet our basic needs. If we are truly to create or revitalize systems that meet all our needs and are grounded in the freedom and self-determination of all our relations, then we should collectively hold ourselves to our core, as we design helpful systems for our future generations.”

The INDIGENOUS HEALING CENTER (IHC) project, located on unceded Coast Miwok traditional territories, promotes and strengthens spaces for Indigenous families and communities within a framework of visibility, participation, healing, research, spirituality, specific and collective rights, self-determination and self-sustainability, cosmovisions and sciences of Indigenous Peoples.

Woman smiling.

An Evolving Lexicon for Co-Creating a Just Economy

In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be releasing our inaugural Possibility Logs, an annual-report-style reflection on our first two years. Volume I: Our Journey Since Launch is a humble sharing of stories created, partnerships built, and lessons learned since we started this journey in September 2020.

Co-creation requires education and guidance on the evolution of a new shared language and theories of change.

Change is a collective effort. As we reimagine new, equitable economies as an intermediary, we have learned that the systems and lexicons we navigate across funders and social enterprises are typically silo-ed, and thus unfamiliar. We stand at the helm to guide, educate, and advocate alongside donors and funding institutions as well as movement leaders and community members to bridge new frameworks, terminology, and community-centered language in order to shift towards just practices.

With that in mind, we share with you, The Possibility Labs’ Lexicon, a growing glossary of terminology that we’re learning with our partners across funders, activists, and other trailblazing changemakers, as well as the existing structures that we are reimagining to be more radical in how they are activated towards social change.

Language is ever evolving and in the spirit of humility, agility, and accessibility, we will regularly update this lexicon as we learn and grow alongside you.

The Possibility Labs' Lexicon

Financial Capital: People refer to financial capital as the liquid money a business has available on a daily basis. Financial capital also can refer to all the money and assets available at a given moment, inclusive of grants, funds, investments, loans, etc.

Collaborative Funds: A group of stakeholders who collaboratively resource, govern, and lead all funding decisions for a fund benefiting a specific cause and its intersections. This group can include: members of various organizations, individual funders, collectives of community leaders, or institutional funders who want to house a fund separate from their organization.

Community Governed Loan Fund: A community governed loan fund (or community loan fund) is led by a community or as part of an organization’s programmatic work to disburse loans directly into the specific community where the governing board or organization is located. This gives the community access to high-risk and first loss capital to support multiple local projects.

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs): Donors make charitable gifts to a sponsoring organization (like Possibility Labs) and then recommend how to redistribute those funds to organizations and movements. The sponsoring organization conducts due diligence on donor funding decisions and provides the resourcing infrastructure, lowering the inefficiencies of checkbook giving.

Ecosystem Weaving: Interconnection of a diverse ecosystem of movement leaders, businesses, intermediaries, donors, and funders to collectively shift capital and build power. In our case, these networks are designed to help propel BIPOC and low-income communities.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) Form: The EIN (or Federal Tax Identification Number) is like a social security number unique to your US-based business (including US territories). It is provided by the IRS and is necessary for all business tax forms (also identified as a TIN – Tax Identification Number). To apply for your organization’s EIN visit this IRS page.

First-loss Capital: The capital invested in a project or initiative that takes the first economic loss in cases of financial difficulties. A donor or investor can agree to bear the first loss of an investment so it does not become the financial responsibility of the movement or organization.

Fiscal Sponsorship: Communities, movements, grassroots organizations, or other projects may need tax-exempt status from the IRS but may not have or want it as an independent tax-exempt organization. Intermediaries who are tax-exempt (like Possibility Labs) help these organizations obtain donations by becoming their fiscal sponsors and acting as the legal entity receiving and deploying funds on their behalf. Fiscal sponsorship can include other administrative support as well, such as human resources and compliance oversight.

High-risk Capital: Money or assets that face increased likelihood of being lost or decreasing in value. It is typically offered when there are opportunities for investors to make a higher rate of return, but at the same time with the possibility that they might lose all their capital.

Impact Investing: Investing that supports long-term social and environmental change, while helping donors obtain and measure the positive financial and social/environmental return on their investment. Donors are guided to understand impact measurements, define metrics for their return on investment, and assist with investment reporting to increase accountability and transparency.

Incubation: An incubator supports early or idea-phase leaders as they solidify their strategies, adapt their business models, and define their corporate and fundraising structure. Through incubation, organizations are primed for long-term sustainability and scalability with coaching, ideation, fundraising education, training, and access to mentors and consultants, among other benefits.

Infrastructure: Possibility Labs’ infrastructure empowers partners with comprehensive financial dashboards and data analytics, user-friendly administrative tools, educational resources, and direct support to help groups to successfully navigate existing economic power structures.

Integrated Capital: Integrated capital offers organizations a combination of different capital tools like grants, loans, investments, guarantees, and related, non-financial resources like advising and networks. These funding strategies help communities, movements, and donors obtain the diverse capital necessary to effect systematic change and transition to a new economy.

Integrated Capital Investment Portfolio: Diverse capital offerings and tools are combined to create a comprehensive investment portfolio. These customizable funding strategies let donors make their own deployments while meeting mission-alignment criteria and partnering with external advisors.

Intersectionality: Term originally created by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw which focuses on the intersection of race, gender, disability and sexuality and the implications these identities have for socially marginalized individuals and inequality as a whole.

Participatory Funding: A funding practice fostering civic engagement, increased equality, and that empowers communities to participate in local grantmaking or investment decisions. Community leaders and on-the-ground organizations help ensure their initiatives receive the funding needed to evolve and grow.

Payout: The amount you expect to receive (or get paid out) as a return from an investment or when an investor will see their originally invested amount recuperated. Payout can also refer to the percentage (5%) of an endowment that foundations are required to distribute in grants annually. DAFs (donor-advised funds) do not have a mandatory payout rate, however Possibility Labs requires a minimum 10% annually.

Pooled Funds: Pooled Funds (or Pooled Investment Portfolios) allow funders to join together to pool or group their DAF (donor-advised fund) money towards a specific initiative.

Regenerative Capital: The penultimate step for Just Transition for Philanthropy’s ideal spectrum of resourcing strategies, which helps bolster communities facing long-term economic inequality so they, as grantees, can have the resources and capital to financially back their most pressing community needs.

Restorative Capital: Capital focused on making sure donations or investments take on an active role in addressing historic community harms and inequalities, as well as transitioning to an economy that centers the visions and leadership of marginalized groups. Through a restorative focus in Possibility Labs’ capital tools, we ensure all transactions prioritize the needs of BIPOC communities and not just those of donors or sponsoring organizations.

PL team members smiling.

Engaging with Empathy, Equity and Effectiveness

In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be releasing our inaugural Possibility Logs, an annual-report-style reflection on our first two years. Volume I: Our Journey Since Launch is a humble sharing of stories created, partnerships built, and lessons learned since we started this journey in September 2020.

Culture building is a co-creative muscle, not a set of outcomes.

Since April 2022, we have been deep in conversation peer to peer, between supervisors and direct reports, among managers and senior leadership, and as an organization as whole about how we aim to live into our values as an organization, but also as people.

Our Working Agreements is a cultural artifact that builds habits and muscles for team alignment—and is the foundation in how we engage with one another. Co-creating the agreements together lays the groundwork for accountability, allowing intentional spaces for vulnerable and honest conversations about power, safety, conflicts, equity, and inclusion to happen. It is a living and ever-evolving document to collaboratively refine and adjust as our team grows.

Possibility Labs Working Agreements: Our Living and Breathing Tools for Alignment

At Possibility Labs, we dare to navigate the pathways that advance social justice and build the power of self-determination for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and historically low-income communities. We champion the practitioners who deserve radical support. While these roads can be bumpy and overwhelming, we aim to guide with gentle resolve and care: clearly, explicitly, and passionately without overcomplicating, alienating, or ostracizing. Together, we can co-create a just world. Where we value accountability over perfection, abundance over scarcity, curiosity over complacency, regeneration over extraction, and collaboration over competition. May we be emboldened to unlock the power of our collective potential—and transform what was once possible into an emerging practice where all people and the planet can thrive.

We respect and honor our diverse personhood. We stand together in solidarity as passionate changemakers—with each other and with our partners—inspired and activated by the shared commitment to decenter whiteness and reclaim our once marginalized identities as people of the global majority. Our diverse backgrounds, lived experiences, talents, abilities, and intersectional identities are our greatest assets. We are proud to be in relation with one another and aim to engage with empathy and care. At Possibility Labs, we are committed to creating and maintaining an open, honest, and safe work environment that embraces and values each other with fairness, dignity, and respect.

Working Agreements are a tool for alignment that builds habits and muscles for a thriving culture.

  • They tell a story of who we are, what matters to us, and how we want to behave with each other and our partners.
  • They act as a compass to help us stay on course and hold ourselves accountable with specific practices we want to adhere to.
  • They are a living and ever-evolving document with the intent to collaboratively refine and adjust as our team grows

01 People First

We embrace our full lives within and beyond the bounds of work and honor each other’s individual identity and lived experiences.

02 For Social Justice

We center the advancement of racial, gender, economic, and environmental justice in our practices.

03 No Bullshit

We practice open communication with candor and curiosity with the intent for clarity and understanding.

04 Thought Partnership

We participate in generative conversations to foster diversified ways of thinking.

05 Culture of Trust

We cultivate and nurture a leader-full team with trust and shared accountability.

06 Intentional Connection

We create moments for fun, celebration, joy, rest, and vulnerability.

07 Emotional Agility

We infuse kindness, empathy, and consideration with each other, our partners, and fellow co-creators in our ecosystem.

A group of diverse people smiling in front of a building.

Building Power, Building Wealth: The Value of Community-Driven Models

Our greatest barrier is the scarcity of money. Or so we have been told.

Charitable giving had a record-breaking year in 2020 at $471.44 billion. Yet, in 2021, but for the notable exception of Mackenzie Scott, donations towards initiatives benefiting Black and Brown communities weren’t a priority for the nation’s top 50 donors.

Read More

Fidelity Investments building facade.

Bringing Community Power to the Mostly Hidden World of Donor-Advised Funds

Lem White wants to “blow up” the donor-advised fund model. Also known as DAFs, these are accounts created at a sponsor entity that allow account holders to get the tax benefits of giving away large sums of money all at once, then distribute those dollars later — if and when they feel like it — to tax-exempt organizations doing actual work on the ground in communities.

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Collage of hands and colorful circles behind them.

Supporting BIPOC Communities Requires Investing in BIPOC Leaders

A new economy is slowly emerging, one where historically marginalized communities have self-determination and where we can build regenerative relationships with our planet and each other.

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