Access Strategies Fund was founded in 1999 by Maria and Greg Jobin-Leeds, a couple who were inspired by the success of social movements from civil rights to feminism, and anti-apartheid. Access Strategies Fund is a philanthropic foundation that harnesses the collective power of underserved communities to use the democratic process to improve their lives.
Maria was motivated by her parents’ dedication and leadership in the areas of civil rights and feminism. Maria had a stimulating childhood surrounded by adults who worked to improve schools and stop the Vietnam War. Greg, a son of immigrants who escaped Nazi persecution, developed a commitment of fighting for fairness and social justice from his parents’ experience. As teachers, the Jobin-Leeds’ became more aware of the barriers to healthy and happy lives that many students from low-income communities struggled against, particularly those in communities of color.
Maria and Greg are deeply committed to the power of community-driven philanthropy to advance progressive social change using a race, gender and economic lens. The sale of the family publishing business gave Maria and Greg the financial freedom to put their ideas into practice and support social justice issues such as democracy and education.
The Jobin-Leeds’ approach in the world of Philanthropy was to develop the civic and social power to change laws and deliver resources to underserved communities. They understood that philanthropy could not provide enough services for every person, and that it should be used to reprioritize the role of schools and government.
Under Maria’s leadership as a Founder and the Board President of Access Strategies Fund, Access, through its partners and grantees, played a major role in increasing voter registration and voter turnout to steadily increasing levels in underserved communities; contributing to the largest voter turnout for a presidential election in Massachusetts in nearly 50 years.
Greg is Founder and the Board Chair of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Under his leadership, Schott funded the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and helped found the Alliance for Quality Education which successfully won $7.4 billion for high-need New York schools to improve teacher effectiveness, early education and resources. He is now researching and speaking on transformational movement building which has informed the future direction of Access and many other organizations that he works with.
Maria and Greg are 2008 recipients of the Center for Community Change Champion award honoring their efforts in immigrant and poor people’s civic advancement.
Access Strategies Fund has provided more than $3 million in grants to non-partisan 501 (c)(3) organizations and leveraged another $2 million in resources to communities throughout Massachusetts. Access grantees have been instrumental in promoting access to the electoral system through increased voter engagement, fair redistricting, multilingual ballots, civic leadership programs and census outreach.