Scope and arrangement
The records of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), 1966-1984, document the origin and development of the organization within the context of the social and religious turmoil of the late 1960s, a period which gave rise to Third World theological perspectives, and the radical critique of racism and materialism in American society. IFCO records consist of files for the various programs and projects IFCO developed to assist economically and politically disadvantaged peoples gain justice, self-determination and economic independence, primarily in the United States, and to a lesser extent, Africa. Included are hundreds of proposals submitted by community, educational, health care, and other organizations to IFCO's Grant Making Program, that provide in-depth documentation for many community empowerment organizations in the United States from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s.
The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization records are arranged in thirteen series:
- 1967-1981.8 linear feet
The minutes and correspondence in this series do not encompass the full date span of the records on hand. As a result, they provide a limited picture, from the board's point of view, of the organization's activities, its achievements, and failures. The minutes that are available nevertheless document IFCO's operations and include scattered minutes for the general board and executive committee meetings. Among the files are those for the financial development, membership, and personnel committees. Additional files include those for the Indian Board of Consultants (1969-1970) and the Black Caucus (1970). The former contains an early discussion of IFCO's interest in addressing the concerns of the American Indian community, while the Black Caucus file contains a document which reveals IFCO's efforts to forge and maintain a black perspective as it affected the programs and policies of the Foundation. The Caucus, which was made up of black board and staff members, and elected delegates representing the historically black church denominations, was established to present and represent black concerns at IFCO board meetings and to review grants and program recommendations after grants had been evaluated by the Proposal Advisory Committee.
The Proposal Advisory Committee (PAC) files, 1967-1975, are the most extensive board files, and document the significant role played by the PAC members in reviewing and selecting grant recipients. Files contain proposal summaries (also found in the Grant Making Program series) written by staff for review by PAC screening committee members, budgets, and minutes that reflect the interaction between staff and committee members regarding program decisions.
- 1966-19822.7 linear feet
Administrative procedures, planning documents and reports, public relations files, financial records, directors' and staff files constitute this series which covers nearly two decades of IFCO's history. The executive director's reports for the years 1970, 1971, and 1974 only are available in the collection. The 1970 report refers to the loss of funding from the Board of National Ministers of the Presbyterian Church (U. S.), and an update on the Michigan-Ohio Community Organization Council and economic development programs. Most of Walker's 1971 report describes the organization's financial difficulties as a result of the controversial National Black Economic Development Conference. Similarly, the 1974 report discusses the impact of the reduction in funding for IFCO's programs and projects. Walker's correspondence with church representatives in the U. S. and Africa, elected officials, and individuals with black organizations, and his fund raising activities sheds some insight into his role as an administrator. Likewise, his speech, "A Case for Reparations to Black America", a response to James Foreman's Black Manifesto in which he analyzed Foreman's demands, reveals his skill as a mediator.
Also included are manuals developed to provide guidance for the review of proposals and the provision of technical assistance to grassroots and community organizations. The planning document, "Concept Design for IFCO's Second Five Years, 1973", featured the new international emphasis in the grant making program, highlights of IFCO's training agenda, and programs and projects such as regional offices, an economic development agency, and the national organizers conference.
Due to a relatively brief tenure as IFCO's executive director, Ann Douglas' files are not as extensive as Walker's. However, in her files can be found documentation for the beginnings of two of IFCO's major program initiatives: a proposal to the Charles E. Merrill Foundation requesting funding for technical assistance to grassroots and community organizations, and correspondence concerning the creation of local Black United Funds as conceived by IFCO. Staff files, arranged alphabetically by last name of the staff member, are not always substantive and, thus do not reflect the extent of the staff member's responsibilities. Marilyn Clement's (Assistant Executive Director) files, from 1971 to 1974, indicate that she was responsible for public relations, proposal writing, providing technical assistance to grant applicants, and for arranging the National Organizers Conference, however, her files do not document the full scope of these activities. Similarly, the files for the Associate Director from 1968 to 1969, Louis Gothard, contains sparse and scattered documentation. Typical of other staff files found in the collection, is the file for Ray Santiago, Program Analyst, 1973-1974, which consists of a few items related to his field trips.
Included in this series are FBI files on the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the National Black Economic Development Conference (NBEDC), which were acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. IFCO had become a target of COINTELPRO following the delivery of the controversial Black Manifesto at the NBEDC. The files contain letters to J. Edgar Hoover, then Director of the FBI, seeking information regarding the possibility of subversive activities by the NCC, and Hoover's responses.
- 1969-1974.1 linear feet
This is the smallest of the project series, with only three files for four organizations. Among them are files for the Alaska Federation of Natives Project, which include correspondence, proposals, news releases, and a draft report concerning, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, 1970.
- 1968-19834.7 linear feet
Shortly after IFCO was established the board formed the Indian Board of Consultants to assist in identifying the needs of the American Indian community. The American Indian Projects series reflects IFCO's subsequent work with Native Americans, and is the second largest series in the collection. There is information on a number of Indian tribes: Crow, Sioux, Comanche, Lakota, and Navajo, as well as inter-tribal organizations, from around the country. File contents include proposals, agreements, and reports, correspondence with several church denominational representatives, minutes of meetings, copies of Indian treaties with the United States, and conference materials. IFCO also proposed the establishment of an American Indian task force to advise IFCO on American Indian affairs and communicate with urban, rural and regional tribal representatives. Files for the task force contain a proposal from IFCO requesting funding in order to establish a task force and evaluate proposals.
There are several files on the American Indian Movement (AIM), which IFCO helped establish. Contents of these files include a feasibility-like study on AIM, the articles of incorporation, minutes, transcript of an IFCO meeting in May 1969, correspondence, activity report, newsletters, and newspaper clippings. A transcript of the trial proceedings in the case of the United States vs. Dennis Bank and Russell Means for the occupation of Wounded Knee can also be found here.
Included are files for the Joint Strategy and Action Committee (JSAC), an ecumenical organization similar to IFCO that worked with Indians, Chicanos, Alaskan Eskimos and rural residents. Files include minutes, correspondence, and proposal summaries.
There are also several files dealing with the Native American Consultation with Churches, a meeting or retreat convened at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, South Dakota in 1975. In response to a request for information about American Indians and the lack of resources in their communities, church leaders proposed and assembled a meeting to discuss these issues. Individuals representing fourteen tribes and twelve denominations attended. The files contain materials from the planning meeting, as well as for the actual meeting and workshops, and include reports and plans regarding a follow up meeting for the next year. A folder, entitled, "Post-Conference Correspondence, Resolutions", contains letters, resolutions and a petition on Native American concerns. That folder also contains background information on Leonard Crow Dog, a Sioux medicine man who was arrested, tried and sentenced for his role in the occupation of Wounded Knee.
- 1967-1974.4 linear feet
This series documents the formation of the National Black United Fund (NBUF) and local, independent, affiliated Black United Funds (BUF). There is a file containing Richard E. Charles' (a consultant) comments on Walker's original proposal to establish a United Negro Fund, a precursor to the NBUF. Unfortunately, Walker's proposal is not in the collection. A paper, titled, "An Idea in Need of Support: United Black Appeals (UBA)", available in these files, proved to IFCO that a national fund raising organization with local independent agencies could survive. The correspondence in the files indicates that IFCO and UBA occasionally exchanged fund raising techniques.
There is also correspondence with the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, Inc., an organization IFCO funded to develop local BUFs. Additionally, the folder contains proposals from IFCO to other organizations to fund the NBUF, as well as correspondence and preliminary plans to organize the first NBUF training program curriculum at Atlanta University's School of Social Work. Other documents include agreements and research reports that show the development of the NBUF and local, autonomous BUFs under IFCO's auspices.
- 1.8 linear feet
The bulk of this series relates to the National Black Economic Development Conference (NBEDC) sponsored by IFCO in 1969. The files document the ensuing historic confrontation brought about by James Foreman's reading of the Black Manifesto at the conference and the ultimate rejection by white churches and synagogues of this call for reparations. In addition, there are files for two other economic development conferences, both held in 1968, the Southern Economic Development Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Rural Economic Development Conference in Waveland, Mississippi, including copies of papers given at those conferences. Neither conference was sponsored by IFCO.
The files for the NBEDC contains information on the steering committee that helped to plan the conference and includes various planning documents. Among the steering committee members were Julian Bond (also a panelist at the conference), Vincent Harding, Robert Browne, John Conyers, Fannie Lou Hamer, and attorney Howard Moore. There are files containing speeches and papers presented at the conference, among them NBEDC's position paper on economic development. There is also a copy of Forman's manifesto, a chronology of the events that occurred before the speech was delivered and the controversy that ensued afterward, as well as extensive files on the responses from several denominations, and articles.
- 1966-198016.4 linear feet
This is the largest series in the collection, containing nearly 1,000 proposals from organizations throughout the United States and Africa. Proposals were received from various ethnic groups in the United States (black, Chicano, Asian-American, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican), poor and working class urban communities, and agricultural and rural communities. A variety of organizations, including social service, community, and grass roots organizations, self-help groups, health care, church groups, employment and training agencies, publishers, and educational organizations, among others, submitted proposals. Folder contents include proposals, reports, printed material and correspondence.
Also in this series are files kept by the staff regarding the administration of the grant-making program, including preliminary and follow-up files on the proposal review process from 1967 through 1986. There are status reports detailing the amount of money dispensed to a community group or organization, evaluations of proposals and recommendations by year, summaries, and information on model projects. IFCO staff established three categories for proposals: those that were not funded because they were outside of IFCO's guidelines; proposals that merited funding, but were not due to insufficient funds or because revisions were needed, and funded proposals. The files in this series, however, have been reorganized by the name of the organization or program, in one alphabetical arrangement for easy access. Whether or not a project was funded, can be determined by the correspondence and other documentation in the folders.
Files do not exist for all of the projects funded by IFCO, such as MASS (Material Assistance Support System) in the former Portuguese African colonies, or the grants to FRELIMO in Mozambique and ZANU/ZAPU in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, it is in this series that the full range of the organizations that IFCO worked with and the full impact of its power as a minority-controlled foundation can be found. The list of organizations and programs provides us with a snapshot of community action in the 1970s, a period when so-called minority groups sought to empower themselves and their communities in numbers that were unprecedented up to that time. The proposals frequently provide the only extant information on an organization, many of which are now defunct.
- 1968-1976.4 linear feet
Most of the files in this series contain proposals for community development projects, leadership training seminars, and educational programs. Contents of the files include proposal summaries and evaluations, a few newsletters and correspondence. There is also a list of IFCO's funding of Chicano and Mexican-American projects from 1968 to 1971. Among the organizations represented in this series are the National Council of La Raza, La Raza Information Center, the Mexican American Unity Council Organization, and Organized Migrants in Community Action (OMICA).
- 1967-1975.8 linear feet
This series contains information on IFCO's attempts to develop a coalition that would replicate IFCO's role on a regional level. There are files for the Michigan Community Organization Council and the Ohio Council for Community Organizations, as well as information on the development of the coalition. Reports, proposals and correspondence provide details of the experiment, its achievements, and problems. Folder contents include minutes of meetings, proposal evaluations and recommendations, financial reports and statements, and field reports. A 1975 report summarizes IFCO's efforts to implement this program and the problems that prevented it from becoming a successful model.
- 1973-1978.2 linear feet
The RAINS series is comprised of several papers on the drought and famine in the Sahel region, as well as IFCO board minutes containing a discussion of the procedures for granting funds for famine relief. Additionally, the decision by IFCO's International Task Force on African Affairs, convened in 1978, to refocus the program on a broader geographical area, particularly Southern Africa, is reflected in the task force's minutes. The National Council of Churches' Policy Statement on Southern Africa, and a program proposal written by IFCO executive director, Ann Douglas, seeking funds for the RAINS program, and to develop farm land and an infrastructure in the Sahel to avert future droughts, complete this series.
- 1968-1976.8 linear feet
Series pertains to IFCO's attempts to develop a national and later, an international, training program. Included are correspondence, reports, minutes and program evaluations that document one of IFCO's primary objectives - to train blacks, Asian-Americans, American Indians, Mexican-Americans, Chicanos, poor whites, Eskimos, and Africans to become community organizers who would, after their training, return to their communities to organize grassroots activities and programs. Although relatively sparse, the files show the trajectory of IFCO's planning in this area. Among the files are proposals for training in leadership development and community organizing. There is a 1969 report to the IFCO Training Committee regarding a proposed demonstration training institute developed by IFCO and a file for IFCO's first instruction project, a Ministers Leadership Training Program which they created for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. There are also files for the Community Organizers Training Institute (COTI) established in 1972 in Washington, D. C., and the Amilcar Cabral Training Institute, 1973-1974.
The National Organizers Conference in 1976 was one of IFCO's most successful projects, and was planned by a forty-one-member steering committee, including IFCO staff. In addition to steering committee planning documents, file contents include correspondence, mailing lists, notes, panelists' papers and biographical sketches, conference evaluation forms, and an analysis of the conference possibly prepared by Marilyn Clement, one of the primary organizers. The entire conference was videotaped, however, the videotape is not included in the collection. A play script by Amiri Baraka, "Senate Bill #1" which was performed at the conference, is included.
- 1966-19812.4 linear feet
Organization and subject files were kept separately by IFCO staff; however, no apparent distinction appears to exist between the two files, with two exceptions. The Organization files usually contain a history of the organization, and occasionally correspondence between the organization and foundation staff. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Types of materials that can be found in the Organization series files are reports, flyers, minutes, newspaper clippings, brochures, studies, and newsletters. For the majority of the organizations represented in this series there is usually one folder, with some exceptions. The National Council of the Churches of Christ/Division of Church and Society (NCC/DCS) is represented by several folders, including correspondence and minutes for the Racial Justice Working Group. Of interest among the NCC/DCS files is a position paper, "A Strategy for the National Council of the Churches of Christ", and a 1966 working paper, "A Strategy for the Next Stage in Equal Rights: Metropolitan - Rural Development for Equal Opportunity". These files contain proposals, correspondence, minutes of meetings, guidelines for program evaluation teams, reports, a 1973 program and budget, news releases, and newspaper clippings. Also of interest in the Racial Justice files is a report of the alleged 1972 Wilmington, North Carolina (racial) "Insurrection".
- 1966-19842.6 linear feet
Subject files usually include literature apparently retained by foundation staff to keep them knowledgeable and abreast of topics, issues, and organizations related to their work. The subject files encompass a wide range of topics and contain reports, brochures, form letters, and newspaper clippings. There are several folders on Africa of material from the United Nations, Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola, the Southern Africa Committee, and "Facts and Reports", edited by the Angola Comite da Costastraat. The files on Africa also contain the following reports, "American Corporations and Racial Discrimination in South Africa", and "Civil Rights or Black Cure: the Black American Response to South Africa" by Ronald W. Walters, then associate professor of political science at Howard University. A file on the Black Affairs Council (BAC) contains their publication; "Focus On", that includes information on BAC funded projects such as the National Black Economic Development Conference, Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and other projects. The Black Efforts for Soul in Television (Washington, D. C.) file has a chronology from September 1969 to November 1971 of their efforts to obtain realistic portrayals of blacks in television. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee file contains copies of their newsletter. There are also several files on "Vietnam", with newsletters, newspaper clippings, a Swedish Delegation report from Indochina, and brochures.