A couple weeks ago, we shared some key takeaways learned from implementing our new Pooled Fund grant criteria focused on increasing equity and reducing disparities in Washington State. Today, in an effort to continue transparency in our grantmaking, we are sharing the specific changes we made to the grant criteria for the 2020 grant process.
We made these changes in response to feedback from members, nonprofits, and community leaders. In general, the criteria are not significantly different than those used last year, but we did draft additional definitions and added to the FAQs on our website in order to provide more clarity about the terms used. We hope that these changes will enable potential applicants to more easily understand their fit with our priorities. We also hope that members of our Grant Committee will find this additional guidance helpful during their deliberative process next year.
For our 2020 grantmaking year, we are inviting Letters of Inquiry from any organization that meets all the following criteria:
- Is focused on providing services to people affected by inequity due to race, gender identity, and/or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination and/or exclusion.
- Is accountable to the people being served. “Accountable” can mean one or more of the following:
- Ensures that people being served are visibly leading;
- Develops leadership of the people being served;
- Engages the people being served in ongoing decision-making, planning and assessment; and/or
- Draws on the strengths, assets, and lived experience of the people being served to achieve the long-term goals of reducing disparities and increasing equity.
- Has the expertise to do the work. “Expertise” includes being able to demonstrate both of the following:
- An understanding of the root causes of the issues facing the people being served.
- Lived experience and/or a track record of success in reducing disparities and/or achieving more equitable outcomes
In the first element of our criteria, we are looking for organizations focused on providing services to communities affected by inequity due to race, gender identity, and/or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination and/or exclusion. One of the questions we heard frequently last year was what we meant by “and/or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination and/or exclusion.” What does that look like to WA Women’s Fdn? Is poverty or socioeconomic status considered a form of discrimination? We know that there are many forms of discrimination, exclusion, and oppression, and also acknowledge the intersectional nature of this discrimination. While we are prioritizing funding for services to communities affected by discrimination on the basis of their race and/or gender identity, we understand that discrimination also does occur – and has historically occurred in our country – on the basis of socioeconomic class, religion, disability, sexual orientation, country of origin, immigration status, age, or any combination of these characteristics, and this discrimination results in inequity.
In reflecting on the feedback we received, we also realized we need to be clearer about our priority around funding intentional programing for people affected by inequity. We are looking for organizations that intentionally work with people affected by inequity, not organizations that work with the general population, and thus, happen to provide services to people affected by inequity. We believe this focus on intentionally providing services to specific communities indicates an organization’s understanding of the disparities experienced by people affected by inequity and the organization’s resolve to help reduce these disparities.
In the third element of our criteria, we are looking for organizations with expertise in providing services to communities affected by inequity. We recognize that lived experience informs an organization’s ability to successfully accomplish goals around increasing equity and reducing disparities. In order to continue learning about lived experience in the context of expertise, we added it to the criteria as an alternative to the more traditional explanation of expertise as a track record of success.
Members, we invite you to learn more about our grant criteria at our upcoming event, Grant Criteria in Action, on October 17th. First, we will explain the criteria and our process for developing and refining it. Next, we will hear from a panel of community leaders about what this criteria looks like in their work. We’ll have time after each section for Q&A, so you can get all your questions answered.
Nonprofits, if you have further questions, we encourage you to attend one of our three fall information sessions. At these sessions, we’ll explain our grant process and give you an opportunity to hear from staff, volunteer leadership, and current WA Women’s Fdn grantees. We also posted the following new FAQs on the “For Nonprofits” section of our website for easy reference:
Frequently Asked Questions
Does WA Women’s Fdn fund Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives? While we believe that integrating DEI practices into your work is key for all organizations, for this grant process we are focused on organizations that already meet the above criteria. For that reason we are not funding DEI initiatives with this grant.
Does my organization need to meet all three elements of the grant criteria? Yes, we believe that all three elements will help us assess an organization’s fit with our goal of funding organizations working to increase equity and reduce disparities in Washington State.
My organization is open to everyone, and because of that, we do provide services to people affected by inequity. Does that work? We are looking for organizations that intentionally work with people affected by inequity, not organizations that work with the general population, and thus, happen to provide services to people affected by inequity. We believe this focus on providing services to specific communities indicates your organization’s understanding of the disparities experienced by people affected by inequity and your organization’s resolve to help reduce these disparities.
What do you mean by providing services? We know that services can include many different kinds of community support. If you consider your work to be service providing, please apply and make the case. We will not be funding advocacy work with this grant process.