1. Does the criteria shared represent a shift in the focus of your grantmaking or are they meant to clarify it?

It is meant to clarify and be more transparent about our funding priorities. The criteria build upon our existing Program Focus Areas (PFAs) to center grantee partners working across PFAs. They also: 1) pay attention to the racial, socio-economic, and intersecting identities of leaders 2) recognize the importance of collective or coalition work and lift community organizing and advocacy as key strategies3) examine how groups are contributing to the movement of pivotal education and intersecting social issues.  

2. How will funding amounts be determined given the new criteria?  

Going forward, we envision a series of concentric circles, radiating out like the rings of a tree using the following distinctions as our guide:

  • Ring 1: Anticipated grants of up to $135,000, multi-year funding

    • These groups are Building Community Power and using that power to Disrupt Institutional Inequity. Working with others, they create the external pressure needed to Transform Key Systems. The higher range amount is for groups that focus on educational issues. 

  • Ring 2: Anticipated grants of up to $75,000, single year and multi-year funding  

    • These groups are grounded in Building Community Power and are primarily engaging in internal change activities focused on creating equity in education and intersecting systems. The higher range amount is for groups that focus on educational issues.

  • Ring 3: Anticipated grants of $25,000, single-year funding 

    • These groups tend to take more of a top-down approach to social change.  They play a role in the equity ecosystem by working with or providing support to groups in Rings 1 and 2. 

3. Will all current grantee partners continue to be supported going forward?

We cannot guarantee continued funding for current grantees before funding applications are reviewed. However, for grantees we will not be supporting going forward, we will provide as much notice as possible and are committed to providing step-down grants (i.e., a final year of support at a decreased amount) to give them more time to secure additional support. Whenever possible, staff will help groups brainstorm about other grantmakers and sources of funding that may be available.    

4. Who can apply under the new grant guidelines? 

We anticipate that all current grantee partners will be invited to apply. For new groups, the first step is completing the Letter of Inquiry (LOI) on our website (insert link).  After receipt of the LOI, program staff will reach out to groups with potential alignment.      

5. When can groups apply for support? 

Current Equity Program grantee partners will be invited to complete an application using the same schedule as last year.  For grantee partners on the September grant cycle, applications will be sent by June 1st to be submitted by July 18th for the Board of Trustees meeting in September. For grantee partners on the December grant cycle, applications will be sent by September 1st to be submitted by October 17th for the Board of Trustees meeting in December.  Letter of Inquiries for new groups will be reviewed on a rolling basis and if eligible, groups will be invited to apply in line with our Board meeting schedule. 

6. Beyond the grant are there any other support the Memorial Fund will provide grantee partners? 

We plan on continuing to provide technical assistance support to current grantee partners for; Training and Skill Building; Coaching; Organizational Development; and Healing and Wellness.

7. Does the Memorial Fund expect groups to change their work to be connected to the criteria or educational and social determinants?

No. We believe encouraging groups to do work that they are not ready for or interested in engaging in is counterproductive to achieving equity in education.

8. Can groups move within rings over time? 

We created the rings to offer more clarity about the type of work we prioritize and trust that groups will continue to be guided by their mission and not our criteria.  That being said, we recognize that over time some groups' work will evolve to become more or less aligned with our criteria. Groups who receive one-year grants will have the opportunity to reapply and be reconsidered based on how their work is progressing.  

9. What if I do not see my group’s work reflected in the criteria? 

While we do not expect any group to be compatible with all of the criteria if you feel you are stretching yourself to fit any criteria you may consider whether the Memorial Fund resources are compatible with your group’s efforts. 

10. How will the Memorial Fund measure "organizational capacity"?

The criteria listed offer current and prospective grantee partners an opportunity to reflect on the following things:

  • Is what they are proposing aligning with their current capacity (e.g., staffing, partners, experience, resources)? 

  • How do they expect to make meaning of successes and obstacles along the way?

  • And if applicable, how aligned their work is with their fiscal sponsor. 

  • In addition, we learn from conversations with other partners about how groups are regarded by and connected to others. 

11. How will criteria regarding organizational capacity affect start-ups or emerging groups? 

We will pay close attention to how the criteria and our recommendations may adversely affect newer or less traditionally structured groups. We recognize that newer Black and Brown-led groups engaged in social change efforts are disadvantaged by being historically neglected and under-resourced. We want to be deliberate when we are investing in a group’s efforts to build its capacity and in its capacity to make change. We also want to understand how groups are anticipating ramping up their capacity to achieve their objectives.

12. Can you define what you mean by “provide support and cover?”

By “provide support and cover,” we mean mitigate risk for folks engaged in institutional change in their organization.  An example of this can be creating opportunities for folks that would otherwise feel threatened to speak up against injustice. This could be done by creating structures or spaces where they can openly engage in critique without feeling fully exposed in their institution. 

13. How does the Memorial Fund expect grantee partners to measure progress?

We are interested in learning about how grantee partners are making sense of their progress or sometimes lack thereof. While we are not interested in prescribing what groups should measure or define success for them, we do think it is important that groups have a process for measuring their own advances.  

14. Are the Educational and Social Determinate issues examples or an exclusive list?

The issues listed are not meant to represent an exhaustive or exclusive list but are key priority issues identified by staff and grantee partners of the Memorial Fund over the past five to six years. We believe that as groups working to build community power evolve and grow, their work will interact with many issues that intersect with education in ways we cannot predict.  

15. How will you know the difference between what groups SAY they are doing and what they are doing? 

We can’t always tell, this work requires trust. With that being said, we do not depend solely on applications. We pay attention to how partners measure and talk about their progress, we learn from attending group actions or events, and routine conversations, and we observe how grantee partners show up in the community and relationships with other organizations.

16. If you are prioritizing Pre-K-12 Public School Teachers are you also including College Staff, Sunday School Teachers, Coaches, Librarians, Arts professionals, etc.?

We name Pre-K -12 Public School classroom teachers explicitly because they account for a significant touchpoint for young people of color in the state. We believe that other educators, while not explicitly named, have connections to the community that allows for their inclusion as community leaders outside of the formal position they hold.

17. Where is the strategy to include people in institutional spaces to drive the shifts you are describing?

Our approach is to support the strategy of communities seeking to be included in decision-making in those institutional spaces.  We do not prescribe how communities should do so. Historically, groups working to build community power to create external pressure for change in systems have been severely under-resourced and ignored, making it the focus of our grantmaking.  We also continue to support leaders working in institutional spaces. 

18. Where do white, racially conscious leaders fit within the ecosystem? 

This will depend on how compatible they are with all of the other criteria and how they are partnering with and in support of BIPOC leadership. No single criterion is likely to be a determining factor in the Fund’s decisions. All of the criteria seek to better define the elements we expect in the most central groups.  

19. Does the Memorial Fund have an abolitionist framework guiding its decisions?

While we do not have an abolitionist framework guiding our work we recognize the alignment that many abolitionist efforts have with our notion of Disrupting Institutional Inequity and Transforming Key Systems. We understand that much of the work we support takes a critical view of current systems and while reforms may be sufficient in some cases, we realize that institutional systems must be fully reimagined to eliminate inequity.

20. Is your lens intersectional knowing systemic racism is fueled by all other systems of historical exclusion? How does that influence the lens you use in the criteria?

We believe the complex experiences of the community must be included in effective, sustainable efforts for change. It has been our experience that being explicit but not exclusive about systemic racism has resulted in work that includes people with a growing range of identities in ways that centering other aspects of identity may not. 

21. How do you support inspiring all to end racism and poverty?

Our path to inspiring all to end racism and poverty begins with our commitment and support of BIPOC-led efforts to improve education and related outcomes for their community. To inspire the field of philanthropy, we are modeling and sharing lessons with our peers. Other avenues used to inspire include various small grants and learning programs.

22. What do you mean by an equity ecosystem? 

The equity ecosystem frame helps us distinguish changes that can happen in a vacuum from those that require more complex, connected efforts. It recognizes that we cannot achieve educational equity without corresponding changes in other systems and sectors needed to support and sustain that change. We hope the frame conjures an image of an environment of interdependent relationships that promote equity.  In nature, what you want to flourish, like the trees, interact with elements that can encourage growth (e.g., nutrient-rich soil, clean water, and sunlight) as well as elements that inhibit growth (e.g., disease, parasites, and pollutants). 

23. What do you mean by Systemic Racism?  

We refer to the definition used on the Racial Equity Tools website, which describes systemic racism as: “an interlocking and reciprocal relationship between the individual, institutional and structural levels which function as a system of racism. These various levels of racism operate together in a lockstep model and function together as a whole system. The levels are: 

  1. Individual (within interactions between people) 

  2. Institutional (within institutions and systems of power)

  3. Structural or societal (among institutions and across society)

  4. In many ways “systemic racism” and “structural racism” are synonymous. If there is a difference between the terms, it can be said to exist in the fact that a structural racism analysis pays more attention to the historical, cultural, and social psychological aspects of our currently racialized society.”

24. What do you mean by POWER?

We use the definition from the Racial Equity Tools website, which says: “Power is the combined (A) Ability to name or define. (B) Ability to decide. (C) Ability to set the rule, standard, or policy. (D) Ability to change the rule, standard, or policy to serve your needs, wants, or desires. (E) Ability to influence decision-makers to make choices in favor of your cause, issue, or concern. Each of these definitions can manifest on personal, social, institutional, or structural levels.” 

25. What do you mean by a Racial Equity Lens?

Using a racial equity lens refers to the ability to: examine root causes to understand disparities within a historical context; distinguish between individual, institutional, and structural or systemic inequities; and surface power dynamics in the work and pursue actions to address power imbalances.