Before introducing the steps for our next grants cycle, we wanted to explain what has shifted in our grants criteria.  In 2022, staff revised the Program Focus Areas that guide all of our work to incorporate what we have learned with our grantee partners over the years. This resulted in a shift in our understanding of the relationships between the Program Focus Areas and the revision of our criteria.  
Previously, Transforming Key-Systems was one of three focus areas that were used for funding decisions.  We now view Transforming Key Systems as the culmination of Building Community Power and Disrupting Institutional Inequity Activities.  We also recognize that while some groups are focused on Building Community Power activities and others on Disrupting Institutional Inequity activities, there are some whose work spans these areas.  
Going forward we are prioritizing grantee partners working to Transform Key Systems by Building Community Power and  Disrupting Institutional Inequity.


Refers to groups who are working to increase the power of communities of color living in poverty (i.e., youth, residents, students, parents) by providing information, support, and equipping community members with the tools necessary for engaging in individual and collective, bottom-up, social change efforts.

Criteria for support:

Community Organizing

  • Are intentional about shifting existing relationships of power

  • Take direction from and operate with accountability to members​​​​​​

  • Consistently develop members to become leaders and leaders to become  organizers

  • Actively build a membership base

Other Building Community Power 

  • Provide support, skills and training for grassroots to lead social change

  • Build trust

  • Build solidarity among communities most affected

  • Focus efforts on communities of color (youth, parents, residents) in high poverty neighborhoods


Refers to groups who are working to develop and advocate for practices, policies, and structures that promote equity in education (at the school, district, or state level) and in related intersectional issues.  

Criteria for support:

  • Engage in state and local advocacy           
  • Provide training and expertise for community engagement in advocacy efforts     
  • Raise public awareness on key issues      
  • Design and implement advocacy campaigns         
  • Design and implement advocacy campaigns focused on education issues (teacher diversification, inclusive and anti-racist curricula, equitable school finance, equitable school climate)
  • Have established relationships with key decision makers (Local and State Law-makers)
  • Cross-group collective action (including partnering with community-based grantee partners to advance shared advocacy goals)


In addition to the Program Focus Area criteria listed above, we consider the following criteria for all groups and organizations:


  • Led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) (Board and Staff)
  • Led by person with lived experience in the community they serve (Staff)


  • Co-creating and advancing an anti-racist organizational culture (as evidenced by  training, policies, practices, dedicated staff, use of equity tools, inclusive of all levels of organization)
  • Use a racial equity lens in their work as evidenced by:
  • Examining root causes to understand disparities within a historical context
  • Distinguishing between individual, institutional, and structural or systemic
  • Surfacing power dynamics in the work and pursuing actions to address power imbalances
  • Practice shared leadership and shared decision making that is informed by the expertise of those most impacted


  • Have clear goals, strategies, and activities
  • Have an established process to determine if they are making progress
  • Have made progress towards goals
  • Are clear about what organizational capacity exists and what needs to be built to carry out work described
  • Work and organization/group have strong mission and values alignment


  • Are often regarded as instrumental by other grantee partners (e.g., as key contributors, mentors, or leaders)
  • Have strong partnerships

Levels of Support:   

The funding amounts range from $25,000 to $135,000 and are based on strength of alignment with the criteria set for Organizational Characteristics, Building Community Power, and Disrupting Institutional Inequity. Highest awards are for groups Building Community Power and using that power to Disrupt Institutional Inequity. Working with others, they create the external pressure needed to Transform Education and other Key Systems.