Previous Grant Impact

While the state and community groups supported by FRR and others were successful in securing fairer maps in many places during the 2021-22 redistricting cycle, the work is far from over.

Fueled by a growing funder focus on redistricting (driven in part by FRR), there was an unprecedented increase in community organization involvement in this core democratic process during the 2021-22 cycle. Many submitted community of interest maps, attended public hearings, provided public testimony, and called on policymakers to create fair maps. Even so, “success” took many different forms in the 2021-22 cycle, according to an independent assessment of FRR activity. In some highly gerrymandered states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, communities made great strides. In Pennsylvania, for example, community engagement in redistricting helped create the most fair and inclusive maps in the state’s history, which in the last election resulted in Pennsylvania’s most diverse state legislature to date—a fairer reflection of the state’s population. In some Southern states, change was more evident at the local level than state or congressional levels. And in some states, “holding the line” was considered success. Overall, a New York Times analysis found that these efforts produced the “fairest [congressional] map in 40 years.”

One key lesson from the 2021-22 redistricting cycle is that redistricting is a multi-year, multi-cycle process—we cannot wait another decade to engage. Legal challenges to unfair maps are currently unfolding in several states and coming Supreme Court decisions could significantly curtail efforts to challenge racial gerrymanders. Maps redrawn mid-cycle are vulnerable to additional gerrymandering that could further reduce fair representation for communities of color. An ongoing effort to exclude non-citizens from the census threatens to warp the population count numbers that inform district drawing. And a range of factors—from inaccessible public hearings to lack of materials for limited-English speakers—continue to prevent communities from participating fully in redistricting. Overall, these threats add up to a concerted campaign to diminish the importance and impact of race in redistricting—and thereby reduce the political power of communities of color. Urgent action is needed to defend communities’ ability to engage in this core democracy process.

The good news is that 2021-22 redistricting efforts seeded a new generation of leaders for future cycles. We also saw strengthened state collaborative tables, led by people of color, helping to carry out redistricting campaigns. This new energy in redistricting presents an extraordinary opportunity for continued funder investment to defeat racial gerrymandering and secure fair maps. This investment will be crucial not just for future redistricting, but for communities’ ongoing power-building work and engagement with other democracy processes like census and voting. Communities of color cannot afford to lose this momentum, or to start rebuilding from the ground up when the next redistricting cycle, census count, or voter registration drive arrives.

Officials examine drawn boundaries.

Key FRR achievements during the 2021-22 redistricting cycle

During the 2021-22 cycle, FRR involved over 70 funders and more than 325 nonprofit groups, raising roughly $55 million to support organizations representing people of color engaging in redistricting and creating a stronger field of movement-building groups in 23 states. FRR’s impact through this work is detailed below.