FAQs

DCF Grant FAQ

How is the Diverse City Fund different from other foundations?

  • Initiated in 2010 by volunteer community activists and donors, the Diverse City Fund supports grassroots projects and organizations led by and organized in in communities of color in the District of Columbia.
  • Typically, in philanthropy, it’s donors — and usually wealthy donors — who make decisions about what projects to fund. The Diverse City Fund challenges that model: We have a separate Grantmaking Team, composed of community activists of color who are rooted in DC, that evaluates grant applications and makes grant awards.
  • We are talking about race and have a racial justice analysis. It’s impossible to talk about inequality, justice, or social change in a city like DC without also talking about race.
  • We focus on groups that might not get funded or noticed by traditional funders — small groups, groups that are brand-new and getting off the ground, groups that are volunteer-led, etc.
  • We want to make applying for a grant as simple as possible. People who are doing important community-building work shouldn’t have to jump through tons of hoops to apply for funding. Our grant application is intentionally short and sweet.

What grants are available?

We give grants of up to $5,000 to individual organizations and up to $5,000 per coalition partner for groups applying as a coalition. Since our first grant round in August 2011, we have made 256 grants, totaling $691,500, to grassroots social justice organizations/projects led by people of color in DC.

Who makes grant awards?

Our volunteer Grantmaking Teams consist of 8-10 DC community activists of color who have a broad range of experience with community projects, social change work, and philanthropy.

How do I know if I qualify for a grant?

Grant criteria:

  • Grants requests must be for $5,000 or less for an individual organization and $5,000 or less per coalition partner for groups applying as a coalition.
  • For projects in communities of color in the District
  • Demonstrating little access to funding and a vision for social change

I received a grant from the DC Fund last round, can I apply again? 

After you receive a grant, we ask that you sit out the next funding round, but you are encouraged to apply for the round after that! So if you received a grant in Fall 2017, you can’t apply in Spring 2018, but you CAN apply starting Fall 2018.

What does that mean, “projects in communities of color in the District”?

Project funding is for community building, community organizing or other community work with a social justice vision in which DC residents of color are the primary participants and leadership of the project to be funded. The Diverse City Fund defines People of Color led (or POC-led) organizations as (1) Collectives, or organizations with majority People of Color on the board, as staff members, and as volunteers in leadership positions; (2) a People of Color-led effort that is a core strategic priority within a majority white organization. This organization must have POC in decision making positions at the staff and board level; (3) a People of Color-led coalition; When evaluating whether a project or organization is People of Color-led, it is important to ensure that the People of Color in leadership are not isolated or tokenized, but adequately supported and that the work they are advancing is centralized within the larger strategic priorities of the organization.

My organization has received grant funding from foundations and has multiple paid staff, can I still apply?

While we do not currently have a limit on the organizational size of grantees, DC Fund Grantmaking Teams will prioritize organizations with less access to traditional funding sources in their decision-making.

Do I need a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsorship from the IRS to apply?

No, you do not. If you do not currently have a fiscal sponsorship and you are selected for a grant award, the DC Fund will support you to obtain fiscal sponsorship from one of our partner organizations. More information will be provided if you are selected for a grant.

How long will it take to hear about my application?

We seek to make funding decisions within two months of the application deadline.

I have more questions. Who can I talk to?

Because the DC Fund is currently staffed and run by volunteers, we are limited in our ability to respond to requests for information — but as community activists, we deeply desire to connect person-to-person and receive feedback. You can email us at info@diversecityfund.org and a member of our Board of Instigators or Grantmaking Team will respond as soon as possible. If you don’t have reliable email access, you can also leave a message at 202-709-7038.