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In developing its grantmaking criteria, the Dream Fund sought to use a number of different strategies to promote equal opportunity and the values underlying affirmative action. The Fund's criteria included providing support for projects promoting race- and gender-conscious policies and broader efforts to address systemic or institutional barriers that create inequality. For example, over the last five years, the Dream Fund's grants have supported projects to help low-income communities gain access to education or employment opportunities; change laws and policies that discriminate against or exclude formerly incarcerated individuals; and address discrimination against immigrants based on their non-citizenship status.
The Dream Fund supported four key strategies to strengthen and expand affirmative action:
- Legal advocacy to ensure that courts continue to permit effective race- and gender-conscious affirmative action programs.
- Constituency building and organizing to engage a wide range of stakeholders - including members of affected communities, businesses, unions, universities, and unlikely allies - to improve public understanding of affirmative action.
- Improved communications capacity to help supporters win the hearts and minds of the U.S. public.
- Research to help inform and support legal, policy, organizing and communications efforts.
In addition to these strategies, the Dream Fund created the Strategic Opportunities Fund in 2008 to provide support to national, statewide or grassroots groups working to preserve affirmative action.