Community Foundation of Louisville Announces New Grantmaking Strategy to Support Black-Led Social Change Organizations 

Innovative, trust-based grant process now open through March 29

Building on its legacy of strategic grantmaking that seeks to make lasting and transformational community impact, the Community Foundation of Louisville has announced the Fund for Louisville’s new grant strategy for 2021-23. The Fund will support up to 12 Black-led social change organizations that are advancing systems-level changes through their work, or supporting individuals as they navigate systems-level barriers. The innovative, trust-based application process is open now through March 29.

Black-led social change organizations are identified as those with predominantly Black boards and executive leadership, staff leadership and constituents, and whose primary purpose is to build the political, economic and social power of the Black community. The nonprofit organizations selected for the program’s Racial Justice Cohort will each receive unrestricted grant funding from $5,000 up to $40,000 that is renewable each year for three years.

From 2018-20, the Fund provided capacity-building grants to 76 nonprofit organizations doing significant work in historically disinvested and underinvested parts of the Louisville community. In March 2020, the Foundation’s Board of Directors voted to refocus the Fund for Louisville to specifically and intentionally address entrenched, growing racial inequity. A workgroup of 15 Black community members with diverse experiences and perspectives advised the Foundation on all aspects of the grant program’s new focus and strategy, giving decision-making responsibility primarily to representatives of the Black community.

“National data shows that charitable foundations underfund Black-led nonprofit organizations, resulting in the restricted ability to develop and implement organizational strategies that can lead to improved impact, growth and sustainability,” says Ron Gallo, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Louisville. “We are changing our Fund for Louisville grant process to be a model of accessible, equitable and transparent grantmaking practices. A focus on systems-change efforts reflects growing awareness of the interconnectedness of community strengths and challenges, and the vital role that philanthropy can play. This three-year strategy is one tool of many that will be required to make real social change.”

“For all the change we have affected with less, I look forward to observing the barriers minority-led groups will break now that access to philanthropic funds have been established,” adds Tialisha Lumpkin, Advocacy Community Organizer for Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., and a member of the workgroup that advised the Foundation on the Fund for Louisville’s new grant strategy. “I am proud to work alongside the Community Foundation to help reshape charitable funding opportunities like this one. I am hopeful it will be one of many to come.”

Black-led social change organizations are invited to submit descriptions of their organization’s systems-level change or systems programs in no more than five minutes or 750 words in audio or written format. A workgroup of seven Black community members will evaluate the submissions and select 25 organizations to participate in one-hour virtual interviews. Then, a 25-person workgroup of Black community members and non-Black allies will select the final eight to 12 organizations to participate in the cohort. Over three years, the cohort will have opportunities for knowledge sharing, identification of best practices and networking as they deepen their work to change processes, systems, policies and practices that result in inequitable outcomes based on race.

“The Fund for Louisville’s unique application process is trust-based, meaning it is designed to reduce power imbalances while strengthening relationships between the Foundation and grantees,” says Ramona Dallum Lindsey, Senior Program Officer for the Community Foundation of Louisville. “The funding opportunity provides space for organizations to share their narratives of systems change helping people achieve their greatest aspirations.  The emphasis is on the organization’s people and their work. Consequently applicants will not request grant amounts until after being invited into the cohort.  Offering renewable, unrestricted funding signals our trust in a grantee’s leadership to determine the best use of the funds.”

For more about the Fund for Louisville grants, join us for a workshop, or apply, visit www.cflouisville.org/grants-partnerships/fund-for-louisville-2020/.