What We Do
Photo: Marlon García
IDEX identifies, evaluates, and grows the best ideas from local leaders and organizations to alleviate poverty and injustice around the world. IDEX connects a passionate and engaged network of supporters to the visionary leaders and organizations creating lasting solutions to their communities’ most pressing challenges. IDEX also works with its grantee partners to scale their successes by: building their capacity and leadership; linking them to broader social change movements at the regional, national and global levels; and amplifying their voices and victories.
IDEX’s theory of social change puts local people at the forefront, working towards democratic, equitable and environmentally sustainable solutions.
Since it’s founding in 1985, IDEX has supported more than 500 grassroots, community-led projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Annually, IDEX’s partners serve approximately 1.2 million people in impoverished communities, including marginalized women, small farmers, indigenous communities, low-income urban residents, sexual and ethnic minorities, and youth.
IDEX, through its newly articulated Theory of Change, has surfaced its long standing assumptions:
- existing economic and political systems exclude and marginalize populations including small farmers, indigenous peoples, women, rural communities, land stewards, fisherfolks and slum dwellers.
- community-based organizations (CBOs) organizations have the power to build local skills and capacities, to link and mobilize resources, and to create/innovate new systems to end poverty.
- IDEX exists to shift power dynamics – individuals and communities to step into their power as leaders and game changers; philanthropy to adopt more egalitarian practices and to balance learning between global south and north that engenders hopefulness; raise resources and facilitate connections. IDEX adds value by leveraging and increasing access to resources, acting as a multiplier effect.
IDEX employs the following strategies to achieve its vision for systemic change:
- Identify innovative, locally-based organizations and engage in partnerships over 3-10 years with flexible small grants
- Broker and/or provide capacity building support, determined by grassroots partners' themselves
- Broker connections to other funding sources - Intentionally build strong ties between leaders and movements globally
- Advocate for grassroots-led development, local leadership and initiative
- Work to inform/influence practices of funders and donors
IDEX’s theory of social change puts local people at the forefront, working in an organized way for better conditions and effective, alternative, practices that build towards democratic, equitable and environmentally sustainable solutions.
While development challenges for the twenty-first century seem more complex and demanding, it is clear to many that an essential, viable path to sustainability, lies in simple, healthy lifestyles, and efforts that are small-scale, locally-owned and respect communities, participatory processes, and our increasingly fragile ecology.
Most, and often large-scale development efforts are still, however, initiated and led by people external to the community, the results of which are often limited or short-lived in value. Local initiative ensures readiness for change and ownership of the change process; it usually reflects cultural, social, political, geographic, and economic realities, a nuance of understanding that outsiders cannot possess.
IDEX respects and supports the initiative and priorities of our community partners and other allies that address local needs, and foster understanding of the rights and responsibilities of people to tackle powerlessness and exclusion. Addressing the root of these problems, and having deeper impact also necessitates the scaling-up of oranized efforts, and linking with broader social change movements at the national, regional and global levels.
We believe that the most productive roles for IDEX and other grantmakers include: lending capacity- building expertise; linking to resources including from within the global south; leveraging U.S. good will, experience, and money; promoting alliances and collaborative efforts; and developing democratic relationships with, and advocating on behalf of, our southern partners.
Would you like to get involved with IDEX and our partners? Take Action to support IDEX.
IDEX identifies, evaluates, and grows the best ideas from local leaders and organizations to alleviate poverty and injustice around the world. Grants to our international partners come entirely from our network of passionate and engaged supporters. Please donate to IDEX today.