Protecting freedoms and powering progressives

Amy Kurtz
3 min readNov 14, 2023

This month, Ohioans joined states like Kansas, Montana, and Vermont by voting to protect abortion rights in their state Constitution.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe in 2022, rolling back civil rights for half the population, they gave anti-abortion extremists the outcome they sought for decades. But they never considered the way voters across the country — and across the political spectrum — would make their voices heard, rejecting abortion bans, and defending reproductive freedom at the state level.

While the election outcome in Ohio ensures women retain autonomy over their own bodies, the efforts by Republicans in the state legislature offer a frightening cautionary tale. The Ohio GOP knew that reproductive freedom was popular in the state, and if given the chance, democracy would prevail.

Rather than respecting the rights of the electorate, right wing lawmakers launched a startling, audacious scheme to take power away from the people with a mid-summer special election that sought to increase the threshold for ballot initiative success to 60%.

For both elections, Sixteen Thirty Fund and the projects we support took action, quickly convened donors, and supported leading groups on the ground to ensure majority rule prevailed.

Crises like the dismantling of civil rights and personal freedoms are all too common in our nation today, but through fiscal sponsorship, philanthropy has the power to galvanize and respond. From threats to voting rights and democracy, to the child care cliff and cost of prescription drugs, Sixteen Thirty Fund provides a solid foundation for projects and grantees to incubate new solutions, quickly scale new organizations and advance progressive values.

Through fiscal sponsorship, Sixteen Thirty Fund played a vital role in 2022 protecting democracy and moving the needle on policy solutions. This week, we filed our 2022 tax return, which shows that we invested nearly $190 million in grantees and projects that launched new initiatives and created impact quickly and efficiently. With the growing threats to civil rights, reproductive freedom, and more, the grants we made to partner organizations grew from $107 million to almost $150 million when compared to 2021. Still, just over $66 million of our total spending went toward political campaign spending.

In 2022, we were proud to support so many projects, partners, and grantees dedicated to preventing further erosion of democracy and defending America’s democratic principles.

As conservatives continued their assault on voting rights ahead of the 2022 election, our partners at America Votes rolled out the largest civic engagement program in the country. As a result of these efforts, turnout reached record highs for a midterm in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

We were also proud to support projects like Protect Our Care Action Fund, which worked closely with health care champions to lower drug prices, while fighting back against attempts to weaken Medicare. Sixteen Thirty Fund will always stand alongside those working to make health care affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Like other 501(c)(4)s, we also supported organizations that directly advocate for specific candidates. In Colorado, for example, our grants to Better Colorado Alliance supported state legislative candidates dedicated to fairness, opportunity, and responsibility — values that protect the health and function of our democracy.

Sixteen Thirty Fund follows both the letter and the spirit of the law, yet we believe Congress can and should enact stronger laws to increase transparency and accountability for all. That’s why our organization has publicly advocated for legislation that would effectively overturn Citizens United — the DISCLOSE Act, the For The People Act, and the Let America Vote Act. Until that happens, we follow the rules and respect the choices of individual donors to remain anonymous if they want to be, including those who wish to protect themselves and their families from increasingly vicious threats from the right.

Sixteen Thirty Fund’s fiscal sponsorship model enables advocates and changemakers to quickly incubate new initiatives, readily adapt to changing circumstances, and offload necessary operational and administrative work to expert support teams. This year and into 2024, we are prepared and proud to lead alongside our projects in the fight against authoritarianism and efforts to dismantle our freedoms. Our democracy is too important to stand by and do nothing.