Frequently Asked Questions
For our Equitable Justice Fund, the Foundation has prepared specific answers to several frequently asked questions. Click on the FAQ to reveal our answer.
What do you mean by advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement?
There are varying definitions for advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement. The following definitions from our colleagues resonate most with the Weissberg Foundation. These are representative of the types of activities we seek in strong applicants, though we are not expecting any one applicant to be doing all of them.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Why does the Equitable Justice Fund only support organizations engaged in some form of advocacy, organizing, and 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.”
Would the Equitable Justice Fund support organizations engaged in advocacy, organizing, and/or civic engagement AND also direct service or other program delivery models?
Yes. Our intention is not to exclude organizations engaged in direct service or other program delivery methods, but a minimum requirement is engagement in some form of advocacy, organizing, and/or civic engagement.
Would the Equitable Justice Fund support organizations that also serve men?
Though we will not rule out organizations that also serve men, the Equitable Justice Fund is intended to support organizations or initiatives that explicitly center their work on and predominantly serve women, girls, trans, and/or gender non-conforming individuals.
Were there specific issues in justice reform you wanted applicants/grantees working to advance?
We believe that the women, girls, trans, and gender non-conforming individuals of color who have been impacted by our criminal justice system are best positioned to identify the issues that need to be addressed; therefore, we are interested in supporting the issues that they lift up.
Why does this fund only support organizations with annual budgets of $2.5 million or less?
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.
Why is the foundation only funding organizations in Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, and Washington, DC and will the grant program expand to other states in the future?
The foundation has staff and/or board presence in all of these states, which we feel is important in building strong grantee relationships. At this time, we are focusing the grant program in states where we have a board and/or staff presence. That may change in the future.
Why does the Foundation use external grant reviewers?
The Foundation’s experience with inviting community members 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 our relationships.
When will the Foundation issue an RFP for a second round of Equitable Justice Fund Grants?
This is still to be determined, but anyone who applied to the 2018-2020 grant round will be informed when a new RFP will be issued. If you did not apply for a grant in this term and would like to be included in that announcement, please inform Leni Dworkis at [email protected].