Reframing <Washington> Empowerment Fund

Frequently Asked Questions

For our Greater <Washington> Empowerment Fund, the Foundation has prepared specific answers to several frequently asked questions.

Click on the FAQ to reveal our answer. Before contacting the Foundation, please be sure to review our answers below:

  • The Weissberg Foundation is private foundation with a social justice mission to advance organizations and efforts that give voice and opportunity to historically marginalized populations. We do this through funding, amplification, capacity building, and collaboration. Located in Rosslyn, Virginia, we predominantly fund in the United States, with about half of our domestic grantmaking going locally to the Washington Metropolitan area.

  • There are varying definitions for advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement. The following definitions from our colleagues resonate most with the Weissberg Foundation.

    • Advocacy

      Any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. It includes public education, regulatory work, litigation, and work before administrative bodies, lobbying, voter registration, voter education, and more.

      Alliance for Justice

    • Community organizing

      A multi-faceted strategy for social change that relies on the leadership of members from the affected community to bring about change. HSF also states the following goals of community organizing:

      1. improve social conditions, outcomes, and the quality of life for marginalized communities through systemic change;
      2. build the leadership within marginalized communities; and
      3. strengthen democratic participation and accountability of decision makers to marginalized communities.

      Hill-Snowdon Foundation

    • Civic engagement

      The process of helping people be active participants in building and strengthening their communities, whether that community is defined as a physical place, or a shared identity/interest. In other words, civic engagement is a spectrum of ways people can participate in self governance, from interactions with government to voluntary associations, and everything in between.

      Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

  • In Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy writes that, “Organizations working on policy advocacy, organizing and civic engagement offer a powerful real-world example of systems thinking and theory in action. This work enhances our pluralistic democracy, provides voice to communities that would otherwise not be heard, demonstrates an understanding of systemic reform and results in tremendous impact. With several notable exceptions, civic engagement, advocacy and organizing are under-funded by foundations, and community groups struggle to raise the resources needed to engage in this important work.” Though this was written in 2009, it still holds true, particularly in the Washington, DC region.

  • Organizations that solely provide direct services are not eligible to submit LOIs. However, organizations that provide direct services and that also engage in advocacy, organizing, and/or civic engagement are eligible, so long as they can answer yes to all other LOI Eligibility Quiz questions.

  • If the communities that you are engaging and mobilizing in this work are in our specified geographic area and you can answer yes to all the LOI Eligibility Quiz questions, you are eligible to submit an LOI.

  • The Foundation recognizes that the grants we have to give are relatively small. Therefore, we want to award them to relatively small organizations and/or programs where they have the potential to make an outsized impact.

  • If your local office or chapter is in Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and/or Washington, DC; your office or chapter budget is below $500,000; and you can answer yes to all the other LOI Eligibility Quiz questions, you are eligible to submit an LOI.

  • Not being a registered 501(c)(3) charity does not make you ineligible for funding. If you do not have your 501(c)(3) status, you must be fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) organization. If you have neither 501(c)(3) status nor a fiscal sponsor but believe your work is charitable, please contact the foundation to discuss your eligibility before submitting an LOI.

  • By “those most impacted by incarceration” we mean those who are at the greatest risk of being incarcerated, those who are currently incarcerated, those who were formerly incarcerated, and those who are the family and loved ones of any of these individuals.

  • Strategies to advance racial equity can manifest in many ways, including explicit goals around racial equity in your vision, mission, strategic plan, and/or work plans and written policies to advance racial equity and represent the communities you serve in your operations, governance, and programming.

  • If you are implementing intentional strategies to advance racial equity, regardless of when you started, and can answer yes to all the questions in the LOI Eligibility Quiz, you are eligible to submit an LOI.

  • The call was recorded. To listen to the recording, dial (302) 202-1115 and enter recording ID 66474526 when prompted.

  • Please contact Corinne Goudreault at for assistance with submitting an LOI through our online grantmaking system or an alternative way, if needed.
  • Grantees will be asked to do an in-person check-in with the foundation 6 months into the grant period; write a story about their current work to be shared through their own, the Foundation’s, and any other appropriate media channels; and submit a final report on grant activities, learnings, outcomes, and feedback at the end of the grant period.

  • The Foundation’s experience with inviting external individuals to join our board and staff in grant review is that it brings different perspectives, expertise, and experience to our review process. Grant decisions are therefore better informed, and we and our guest reviewers learn from each other and strengthen relationships.

  • The Foundation Center tracks a list of grantmaking beneficiaries. From that list, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy identified twelve populations as “underserved” or “marginalized.” In developing our 5-year strategic framework and this grant program, the Foundation wanted to focus our grantmaking efforts on historically underserved and marginalized populations most impacted by racism. Therefore, we chose to lift up people of color, those closest to incarceration, immigrants, and refugees.

  • At this time, we anticipate that we will release an RFP for the second round of Empowerment Grants in the summer of 2018. Please note, the parameters of that grant program will likely be different from this inaugural one. Grantees from the first round of funding will be able to apply for the second round if they meet the eligibility requirements of that funding initiative.