Building alternative futures

Grant-making practices
Civil society infrastructure
Community development
Economic development
Emerging opportunity

Aims and activities

Aims and questions

Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently published this blog and paper outlining plans to create a major new fund as part of their Emerging Futures programme.

They want to support five types of work through this fund:

  • Building alternatives: supporting projects on the ground showing in practice what alternative futures might look like
  • Creating infrastructure: supporting work that scaffolds and nurtures emerging fields such as ownership, care, community power, and growing capacity – areas around aspects of alternative futures
  • Tackling ‘hidden wiring’: supporting work to reveal and redesign the ‘hidden wiring’ that is reinforcing aspects of today’s system and driving inequality, such as governance and tax regimes
  • Narrative shift: investing in efforts to tell the story of the transition in ways that mobilise and engage wider groups of people
  • System readiness: investing in work to prepare the ground, create the conditions, and ‘nurture the soil’, to grow capabilities in communities and places (especially those that have been marginalised) to participate in the work of imagining fairer futures.

They are in the process of designing the first phase of that fund and would love to test the initial thinking, as well as to explore how other funders can better resource this more speculative, futures-oriented work.

There’s no blueprint for this work and we are surrounded by unanswered questions that reflect the deep uncertainty of the times we live in. I find myself saying often that when we’re in fog, we need to hold hands: in other words, we can’t do this alone.

Sophia Parker
Emerging Futures Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

How to get involved

JRF is one of the funders in the UK exploring what it means to fund more speculative work and that is specifically focussed on funding the ’third horizon’. If you'd like to learn more about the wider funder collaboration that this work is part of, please contact Cassie Robinson.

Who's involved

Learning and Resources

Read JRF's briefing paper on their thinking to date about building alternative futures.

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