Community Learning Grants
Range: $150,000 to $225,000 over three years ($50,000 to $75,000 a year)
Accepting applications: March 10, 2022 – April 7, 2022
Organizations we are supporting
Open Doors for Multicultural Families
Southwest Washington Communities United for Change
Here are three of the many organizations we support with Community Learning Grants. To date, this funding has reached more than 200 organizations, fiscally sponsored projects, and tribal nations in 31 counties across Washington.
We are seeking to support organizations that are building a better future in Washington. Our funding prioritizes organizations and fiscally sponsored projects that:
- Have been overlooked by—or have had limited access to— philanthropy and institutional funders. We are also interested in work that has not been supported by multiyear and flexible funding. “Newer” and “smaller” organizations are encouraged to apply, as are those whose communities have historically seen very little funding from philanthropy.
- Are founded, led, and governed by people who reflect their communities. We specifically assess if and how a group’s board, chief executive, and staff leadership—or volunteer leadership for those without paid staff—reflect the people the organization serves.
- Represent a place- and/or identity-based community who is most adversely impacted by inequitable and discriminatory policies. We seek to fund work by and for Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color; queer, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people; people with disabilities; immigrants; people living with low incomes; people who are involved with the justice system, and especially those who hold several of these identities. Places may include tribal lands, small or medium-sized cities, unincorporated areas, and communities in rural settings.
- Are pursuing community-powered work. As long as it advances racial justice and equity in Washington, the work could be organizing mutual aid, mobilizing people and organizations, developing leaders, reclaiming cultural practices, fostering connection, leading anti-racism efforts, and the many other ways communities express power.
- Are determined to change current structures that uphold the status quo of who has access to social, political, and economic power. We are interested in how organizations are working to challenge white supremacy and systems that have excluded or oppressed their communities.
We are committed to making the application process available in languages other than English and to people with disabilities. We are also excited to work with organizations that are new to us. To those ends, we provide:
- Interpretation and translation services (including ASL and/or CART),
- Large-print formats of instructions and applications,
- Alternative application methods, including over the phone, by video or voice recording, and on paper,
- Support from professional grant writers.
Please contact us at email@example.com or 866.389.5532 if you need one of these or another service, and we will do our best to provide it. We know it takes time, trust, and effort to request these services, and thank you for sharing how we can make this process work for you.
Photos: Southwest Washington Communities United for Change
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible?
Group Health Foundation supports organizations and fiscally sponsored projects whose work is rooted in one or more communities in Washington State. This includes organizations whose work is exclusively inside our state, as well as those whose efforts impact individuals and families along Washington’s borders. National and international organizations are not eligible for Community Learning Grants.
GHF is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, which means that we have flexibility in the types of organizations and work that we support. We expect most funding will support nonprofit organizations (e.g., 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), etc.) and tribal entities. In some cases, we may consider support for local governmental organizations. Community Learning Grants are not intended to support individuals (e.g., scholarships and fellowships), LLCs, partnerships, or similar businesses.
Can I apply if I’ve received a grant from you? Can I apply if I was previously declined for a grant?
If you have received a previous grant from GHF, or if you were declined for a grant, you are eligible to apply for a Community Learning Grant with two exceptions: current Community Learning Grants and Systems, Power, & Action recipients are not eligible to apply. Receiving a Community Learning grant does not preclude you from receiving other grants from us.
What types of organizations or projects is GHF looking to support?
We will prioritize support for those organizations that:
- Have been overlooked by—or not yet introduced to—philanthropy and institutional funders like us.
- Are founded and led by people from communities most adversely impacted by racism and inequities: Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; persons with disabilities; queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people; immigrants and refugees; people living with low incomes; and the many who hold several of these identities.
- Have significant and specific connection to communities experiencing inequities, whether on tribal lands, small and medium-sized cities, unincorporated areas, or places in rural settings.
- Are motivated to change the status quo and current ideas of who is entitled to influence, access, and leadership in our social, political, and economic systems.
While we have the word “health” in our name, that does not mean you have to cover this topic in your application or convince us that your work is connected to health.
Our desired outcome of the Community Learning Grants is a stronger and more influential set of community-based organizations across Washington.
You use the terms “cross-racial,” “multiracial,” and “multicultural” in your application. How do you define them?
Can you be more specific about your geographic priorities, and which geographies are eligible to apply?
As a foundation that considers the state of Washington our home, we are committed to reaching all 39 counties with our funding, including tribal lands and areas that are rural, urban, and suburban. We prioritize working with organizations seeking to advance racial justice and equity that are rooted in and accountable to the communities they serve.
Based on areas that are underrepresented in our grantmaking, we are especially interested in meeting organizations and tribal nations working in the following counties:
- Pend Oreille
- Walla Walla
What types of activities are supported by these grants?
Community Learning Grants provide three-year, unrestricted funds to support day-to-day operations that fall within the mission of your organization. Grantees can use unrestricted funding for payroll and staffing costs, rent and capital projects, programs, services, or other costs without limitation.
What is unlikely to be supported by Community Learning Grants?
We have a vested interest in reducing the amount of time and energy that organizations spend on grant proposals. To that end, we try to be clear up front about what we are unlikely to support to help organizations determine for themselves if an application is worth your time. We generally do not expect to support the following with Community Learning Grants:
- Organizations and fiscally sponsored projects that have significant financial assets and philanthropic revenue from foundations and private donors.
- Philanthropy-serving organizations, funder collaboratives, and community-of-interest funds (including those hosted by charitable organizations and research institutions).
- Partisan efforts or candidate electioneering, regardless of party affiliation.
- Specific departments, pilot projects, or some component part of larger organizations (Note: This is distinct from fiscally sponsored projects).
- Friends-of, fans-of, parents-of, and supporters-of groups affiliated with larger institutions.
Community Learning Grants do not support individuals (e.g., scholarships and fellowships), LLCs, partnerships, or similar businesses. Nor do they support organizations that do not primarily serve people in and immediately surrounding Washington.
Here are some examples of work that are unlikely to be funded through Community Learning Grants:
- Medicine and medical interventions
- Research projects and research institutions
- Schools and school-related clubs
- Sports and athletic teams
- Neighborhood associations or neighborhood beautification projects
Finally, our guiding philosophy is that our grants do not support organizations whose model is to do things to and for communities—that is, groups that are not created, led, governed, and operated by people who the organization is intended to serve.
My organization provides direct medical care and services. Are we eligible?
Generally, Community Learning Grants do not fund medical care or services. However, in some circumstances, we do support culturally specific public health services like promotoras.
Are independent chapters or affiliates of national organizations eligible to apply?
In limited circumstances, we welcome affiliates of culturally specific, multiracial, and disability justice organizations working in Washington to apply. In such cases, we will seek evidence of the chapter’s local control, including programmatic independence and a reflective, in-state governance structure.
Does applying impact my Sponsorship request?
No. We consider Sponsorships separately from Community Learning Grants. You can apply for both, and can do so at the same time.
Can we talk before I start the application process?
Given the small size of our team, we usually are not able to speak with applicants prior to a deadline. We do not review applications prior to submission. We expect to prioritize direct discussions with people and organizations that:
- Communicate in languages other than English and have interpretation needs.
- Live in parts of the state without broadband or reliable internet connection, who may benefit from the chance to submit applications in alternative ways (e.g., by phone, on paper).
- Would benefit from grant writing support.
- Have disability access needs that require specific support.
- Are newer to working with foundations and funders like Group Health Foundation.
If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond to all inquiries as quickly as we can.
You already have my information on file. Do I have to send it again?
Yes. You must provide full information for each application you submit. Please forgive any inconvenience if you have previously applied for a grant with us.
How do you define “overlooked,” “smaller,” and “newer” organizations?
We seek to support organizations that have had inequitable access to philanthropy or major sources of independent (non-governmental) funding. They include those that are culturally specific, disability-led, Indigenous, and multiracial.
Tribes—and even established people of color and civil rights organizations—are also included in these definitions because they are disproportionately underserved by philanthropy, though they are by no means “new.” While there is not a specific rule in place, we generally consider organizations with annual philanthropic income of less than $500,000 to be “smaller.”
Can organizations submit a joint application—for example, as part of a collaboration?
We encourage organizations to apply individually. While we place a high value on grantees working together as partners, we also know that collaboration is strongest when organizations are independently strong, stable, and supported. The grant application includes a section where you are encouraged to identify the partners you work with most.
Why do you ask for identity and demographic information? We do not have (or cannot collect) the information requested. What should we do?
We collect race and ethnicity, gender identity, and other types of information so we can understand the ways in which we are—and are not—making grants that are advancing our racial justice and equity goals. We are committed to funding organizations who are founded, led, and governed by the people they serve; and we hope that applicants will see this as an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate their leadership and organizational identities.
We ask that grant applicants provide us, at minimum, their race, ethnicity, disability, and gender identity demographics. We cannot accept applications without this information. If these fields are either incomplete or an inaccurate representation of an organization’s leadership we will discard the application, as we have written about here.
We recognize that organizations are in different places on the journey toward reflective leadership. We are interested to learn why this work is important for your organization, the approaches you’re taking to achieve your goals, and where you are in your progress. If there are elements of the identity questions that you cannot answer, or that pose a barrier for cultural or other reasons, please explain those barriers within the application. Questions about identity can be complex and sometimes come with context that we may not fully understand. We also recognize that sharing this information requires trust and we commit to hold in strict confidence all information you submit to us.
Are there special instructions for fiscal sponsors and other organizations that “host” other organizations?
We will consider funding multiple fiscally sponsored projects from a single sponsoring organization. The sponsoring organization does not need to be based in Washington; however, the impact of the sponsored project must be in Washington.
Fiscal sponsors must be able to provide documents that clearly define the differing roles and responsibilities of the fiscal sponsor (e.g., their legal, administrative, and financial oversight) versus the sponsored project (e.g., ability to exercise reasonable independence in programs and priorities). The fiscal sponsor must have the ability to produce separate financial statements and reports for each project that applies for funding. Generally, we expect that fiscally sponsored projects have distinct program staff or volunteer leaders and an advisory board or steering committee that guides the project (and is separate from the sponsoring organization’s board of directors or staff). We also expect the project has a distinct name and brand from the sponsoring organization.
Should I disclose my connection to Group Health Foundation?
Yes! But, it does not affect the likelihood of funding your application. We want to hear how you learned about the Community Learning Grants and how you are connected to us. We use that information only to thank those who spread the word about this grant opportunity.
What is required of grantees after funds have been awarded?
Over the coming months and years, we will continue to work with you to deepen our relationship, better understand your work, and share information and connections with you and a growing community of grantee organizations. Among other things, that will include the following:
- You’ll be asked to submit brief narrative reports and standard financial reports once per year. Photos and stories are encouraged!
- You’ll be invited to meetings hosted by us from time to time—including one-on-one and group gatherings where we build connections, share information with one another, and tackle issues together. Our goal is always to make those meetings worth your time. When we host, we pay for accommodations, travel stipends, and meals.
- Throughout our relationship, we’ll ask that you keep us up to date on major developments (e.g., major staff transitions, changes to tax status, legal or communication issues, financial changes, major victories, etc.).