This week in Funding News: October 7, 2019

National MBK Alliance Impact Winner: The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, Sacramento, CA. Click here to learn more about this grantee.

Welcome to Issue #29 of Funding News—your bi-monthly connection to funding opportunities, tools, and grantmakers that meet your mission. These curated opportunities represent potential investments and partnerships for MBK Communities to support strategies and initiatives for boys and young men of color.

Grant opportunities this week include: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; The Open Society Foundations; and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Foundation spotlight is Foundation for Louisiana and the tip of the week comes from Jaime Guzman, Deputy Director, MBK Alliance, on how nonprofits can best leverage pro bono services. 

New Funding Opportunities

  1. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Issues Grand Challenge Call for Changing the National Conversation About Poverty, Economic Mobility $$$Deadline: November 13, 2019 Amount: $100,000 

    Category: Economically Disadvantaged

    Geographic Funding Area: National

    Eligibility: Individuals and organizations with a great idea

    Description: Over the past few years, the team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been traveling to communities across the U.S. to meet with people where they live to learn about economic mobility and opportunity from their perspectives. Among the things they learned is that there are no silver-bullet solutions for communities suffering the effects of deindustrialization, that there is no easy fix for structural racism, and that there is a huge gap between long standing assumptions about poverty and the reality of millions of Americans’ lives. With those lessons in mind, the foundation, through its Grand Challenges program, has issued a call for ideas designed to support individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the long-term work of correcting mistaken assumptions and improving understanding of poverty through the actual stories of those that experience poverty.

    Complete RFP



  2. Open Society Foundations Invites Applications for Soros Justice Fellowships $$$Deadline: November 20, 2019 Amount: Between $57,500 to $127,500 (over a period of 12 months to 18 months)Category: Civil/Human Rights

    Geographic Funding Area: National

    Eligibility: The Soros Justice Fellowships fund outstanding individuals to undertake projects that advance reform, spur debate, and catalyze change on a range of issues facing the U.S. criminal justice system.

    Description: The Open Society Foundations seeks to reduce the destructive impact of current criminal justice policies on the lives of individuals, families, and communities in the United States by challenging the overreliance on incarceration and extreme punishment and ensuring a fair and accountable system of justice. To that end, OSF is inviting applications for its Soros Justice Fellowships. The program supports outstanding individuals poised to undertake a project that advances reform, spurs debate, and/or catalyzes change on a range of issues facing the U.S. criminal justice system. All projects must, at a minimum, relate to one or more of the following U.S. criminal justice reform goals: reducing the number of people who are incarcerated or under correctional control, challenging extreme punishment, or promoting fairness and accountability in our systems of justice.

    Complete RFP



  3. Corporation for National and Community Service: Invites Applications for AmeriCorps State and National Grants FY 2020Deadline: January 8, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern TimeCategory: Community Development/Education/Health/Housing/Employment, Labor and TrainingGeographic Funding Area: National

    Eligibility: City or township governments; State governments; Independent school districts; Public and State controlled and Private institutions of higher education; County governments; Nonprofits and others

    Description: The mission of CNCS is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, CNCS has helped to engage millions of citizens in meeting community and national challenges through service and volunteer action. AmeriCorps grants are awarded to eligible organizations proposing to engage AmeriCorps members in evidence-based or evidence-informed interventions/practices to strengthen communities. An AmeriCorps member is an individual who engages in community service through an approved national service position. Members may receive a living allowance and other benefits while serving. Upon successful completion of their service, members earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award from the National Service Trust that members can use to pay for higher education expenses or apply to qualified student loans.

    Complete RFP


Spotlight: Foundation for Louisiana

National MBK Alliance Seed Winner: Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Chicago, IL.

Photo Credit: National MBK Alliance Seed Winner: Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Chicago, IL. Click here to learn more about this grantee.

An interview with Flozell Daniels, Jr., President and CEO
Foundation for Louisiana 

What is your foundation’s current focus? How has that changed throughout the year?

We are a mission-critical, social justice philanthropic intermediary. For 14 years, we have been working with funders, donors, and communities to develop partnerships and strategies that elevate and free people. 

That work has manifested itself as different things over different years. We were originally created just days after Hurricane Katrina as the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. From there, we have evolved to now be the Foundation for Louisiana, while remaining deeply steeped in values of equity and inclusion. The equity and justice framework is something that one of our original leaders and former Chairs, Linetta Gilbert, and Ambassador James Joseph, the former ambassador to South Africa under President Clinton, brought to the Foundation from its inception. This was atypical in the deep South.

Post-Katrina, we worked on housing, small business development, and public policy. From there, we took the lessons we learned into the creation of the Foundation of Louisiana, so that we are really meeting the community and funders where they are in real time. 

Our more recent work has included a litany of successful work. Including, criminal justice work, both at the state level and in local communities as well as a first-of-its-kind, community-based affordable housing initiative, Housing NOLA, which gives community the power, information, and a way to transfer their wisdom/experiences into direct policy.  We also launched a community investment loan fund, as a way to practice the MBK BYMOC Executive Alliance work regarding the expansion of access to capital and community wealth-building. This is a way to build sustainability and strength in families and communities. We invest in entrepreneurs, and in policy work that protects quality jobs, access to contracts, and things of that nature.

What should MBK communities know about your work in advancing equity for boys and young men of color?

We recognize that this work is vastly complex because it sits at many intersections. For example, Louisiana has been the incarceration capital of the world for many years. We’re finding evidence of what we’ve always known, which is that this injustice has created two generations of economic and social inopportunity for black men and boys, their communities, their families, and their schools. As a result, there has been a complete unmooring of everything else: access to housing, jobs, capital, and education. In many cases, economic stability and opportunity are informed and impacted by the litany of other things.

So part of our work is to consider, with the tools we have, where we can provide low-cost money to help black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, affect public policy to dismantle the racialized aspects of the criminal justice system, and address issues that have been holding families back by expanding access to housing, jobs, and other policies that advance justice and freedom. 

We deeply believe that philanthropy’s best moment is to work with the community and the public sector on public policy that can actually create at-scale change. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with working in smaller ways, we ultimately think our mission is to work with communities to build power and affect public policy. More often than not, that is the space in which people live or die.

What advice would you give community leaders in curating funding? 

Remember where your power lies, and remember that you can attract the financial and technical resources to support that idea. You have to believe in yourself. I typically start with a good idea, a lot of research, understanding what the landscape is communicating, and then we ask a simple question. For example, in our work with affordable housing, we asked the community: What could affordability look like for you and your family? 

Engage the community in a dialogue around the challenges and what they’ve seen work. Then partner with people who understand best practices locally and nationally to advise you and establish a clear framework.

What concerns and excites you most about the future of philanthropy in the field?

I am excited about what feels like a much more nuanced analysis of critical baseline issues that affect boys and young men of color, in conjunction with work happening with young women and girls. These issues are simultaneously distinct and connected. Lately, I feel that there’s a lot more accountability in the field so that it doesn’t feel like an either-or. We’re getting to address each group’s unique needs, while also having a larger analysis and inclusive connection in building power and strategies that edify and elevate both groups of young people.

Photo credit: Jaime Guzman with MBK Alliance Impact Winner: The Puerto Rico Community Foundation, Loiza Mayor Julia Nazario and guests at their MBK Kickoff. Click here to learn more about this grantee.

Tip of the Week— A Conversation on Leveraging Pro Bono services with Jaime Guzman, Deputy Director of the MBK Alliance

Drawing on your previous work at the Taproot Foundation, how can nonprofits best leverage pro bono services?

Using pro bono services can be an incredibly valuable resource to nonprofits. The way to maximize pro bono resources is to not view them as “free”, but to view them as a resource that you’re going to have to put some work into in order to maximize its value. It’s not totally free because you should aim to have staff dedicated to the pro bono project in order to work with the pro bono consultant(s) to reach your project goals.

Furthermore, developing a clear project scope is key because it will drive how you’re going to best use a pro bono resources—you want to aim for having an explicitly-defined deliverable on the back end and a clear pathway to get there. One of the biggest causes that I have seen for a pro bono project not going well is when there ends up being scope creep— when people end up trying to add too much onto a project during the process and the ultimate goal gets lost. Have a crystal clear idea of what you want to get out of the project.

A great entry to pro bono is to use a tool like taprootplus.org, which was created by the Taproot Foundation and gives any nonprofit access to a professional pro bono consultant to work on a project that is shorter in length. They will work with you on a specific project in marketing, IT, human resources, etc. It is a really accessible starting point in allowing nonprofits to get experience in leveraging a professional consultant to work on some key action areas.


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