Grant Categories

Para información en español, por favor llame a la oficina: 212-620-9110.

To determine your eligibility to apply for a North Star Fund grant, please review What We Fund prior to reviewing the grant categories. For frequently asked questions, review our FAQs.

Our grant categories are:

Activist-Led Grants

Renewal Guidelines for Activist-Led Grants

Rapid Response Grants

Donor Advised Grants

Technical Assistance


Activist-Led Grants

All of North Star Fund's activist-led grants are awarded by the Community Funding Committee. Beginning in Fall 2010, North Star Fund implemented new grantmaking guidelines. For background information on the changes, click here.

Grassroots Action Grants

Purpose of grants: North Star Fund has a strong track record of providing critical support to new and emerging groups on the cutting edge of social justice activism. Continuing this tradition, Grassroots Action Grants support community organizing work that builds leadership and grassroots activism in New York City's marginalized communities.

Grant Amounts: $5,000 or $10,000

Eligible Groups: Organizations with organizing budgets under $350,000 engaged in community organizing. For information on how to determine your organization's "organizing budget," click here.

Deadline and Application Instructions: Organizations may apply for Grassroots Action Grants in the Spring or Fall Cycles. The next deadline is Monday, September 15, 2014. For complete application instructions, click here.

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Movement Leadership Grants

Purpose of grants: Movement Leadership Grants provide a deeper investment of general support in effective organizations that have already shown a strong record of success in their community organizing work. In accepting the grant, a group's leadership team--both staff and members--commit to participating in peer learning sessions throughout the year.

Grant Amounts: $25,000 per year for two years and full participation by two to three leaders in peer learning training sessions as a requisite to receive the grant.

Eligible Groups: Organizations with organizing budgets under $800,000 engaged in community organizing. For information on how to determine your organization's "organizing budget," click here.

Organizations must have:

  1. A demonstrated base building strategy, stable leadership, and solid vision for sustaining membership's involvement;
  2. A race, gender, class analysis that is built into their work;
  3. A demonstrated strong organizing strategy;
  4. One or more campaigns underway with a demonstrated track record and victories;
  5. A clear orientation towards movement building and collaboration;
  6. Solid infrastructure for sustaining its work, including a fundraising plan that can sustain the organization in the coming years; and
  7. The time and ability for 2 - 3 organizational leaders (ideally the executive director, an active board member, a campaign organizer and/or a seasoned member leader) to fully participate in the peer learning program.

Strong preference will be given to organizations that:

  1. Are current or former North Star grantees;
  2. Can clearly demonstrate how a Movement Leadership Grant would contribute to moving the organization's work to a higher level; and
  3. Do not have access to other leadership development training and resources.

Returning Groups: Organizations that have received a Movement Leadership grant in the past, and have experienced significant transitions (including changes in leadership) are eligible to apply again for this program. Returning applicants must demonstrate commitment and capacity to participate in the peer learning program and meet all of the eligibility guidelines.

Deadline and Application Instructions: Organizations may apply for Movement Leadership Grants in the Fall Cycle. The next deadline is Monday, September 15, 2014. For complete application instructions, click here.

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Movement Leadership Renewal Grants

Purpose of grants: Movement Leadership Renewal Grants provide continued support to groups that have completed the Movement Leadership Program and taken their work to the next level. This competitive grants program provides a continued investment in groups at the forefront of New York City's grassroots movement for equality, economic justice, and peace.

Grant Amounts: One-year grants of $15,000 or $20,000.

Eligible Groups: Organizations with organizing budgets under $800,000 that are former Movement Leadership grantees and have successfully completed the peer learning program. For information on how to determine your organization's "organizing budget," click here.

Preference will be given to organizations that have:

  1. A demonstrated track record of substantive improvements made as a result of their work in the peer learning program, including a stronger commitment to collaboration, growth in their base, a stronger leadership development model, and a stronger campaign strategy;
  2. One or more campaigns underway with the potential for victories;
  3. An active leadership role within coalition work;
  4. Strong mobilization capacity within their own membership and community at large;
  5. Solid infrastructure for sustaining its work, including a fundraising plan that can sustain the organization in the coming years; and
  6. Less access to other funding sources.

Deadline and Application Instructions: Organizations may apply for Movement Leadership Renewal Grants in the Fall Cycle. The next deadline is Monday, September 15, 2014. For complete application instructions, click here.

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Innovative Activism Grants

Purpose of grants: Innovative Activism Grants will support the most exciting social justice work that creatively engages marginalized community members, builds their skills and advances social justice in New York City. North Star Fund will give priority to groups and projects with a direct connection to community organizing campaigns.

Groups should apply under one of the following areas:

Arts & Action: Arts, media and cultural projects play an important role in engaging, influencing and motivating people around social justice issues. NSF seeks projects or organizations that provide concrete, meaningful opportunities for participants and/or audience members to take action for social justice, preferably in the context of an ongoing campaign for policy change. This could be in collaboration with an existing community organizing group.

Resources for Organizing: Grassroots groups engaged in community organizing are often under-resourced. NSF seeks projects that build the capacity of organizing groups based in marginalized communities. Examples of this might include, but are not limited to: training in organizational development or organizing skills, and participatory action research or data collection. Projects must clearly demonstrate the need for their work and its effectiveness from the perspective of grassroots community organizing groups, preferably North Star Fund grantees.

Alternative institution building: NSF seeks to support projects that build institutions outside the structure of government and existing institutions to meet a social justice need in low-income communities of color and other marginalized communities. Examples of this might include, but are not limited to: community gardens that increase open space and access to healthy food, transformative justice projects that create models of accountability for violence between community members, and cooperatives or other projects that increase economic self-reliance. These projects share many of the characteristics of community organizing, including an engaged base from the community who make the decisions of the organization, leadership development programs and concrete results that make a difference in people's lives. However, they do not include campaigns for concrete policy or institutional change that are funded through our other grantmaking categories.

Grant Amounts: $5,000 or $10,000

Eligible Groups: Organizations with budgets under $800,000 that:

  1. Include meaningful participation in decision-making from community members in which the project is based;
  2. Meet a social justice community need that has been identified by community members in which the project is based;
  3. Have an established track record and relationships in the community in which the project is based;
  4. Establish that the project will have an impact that will last beyond the grant period;
  5. Empower participants to develop their own creativity, leadership, vision, voice and/or organizing skills;
  6. Bring new skills, ideas, tactics and strategies to a community's social change work.

Groups applying under "Resources for Organizing" must demonstrate that they will increase the capacity of their partner organizations to do their work.

Deadline and Application Instructions: Organizations may apply for Innovative Activism Grants each Spring Cycle. The next deadline is Friday, February 13, 2015. For complete application instructions, click here.

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Renewal Applications for all Activist-Led Grants

North Star welcomes renewal applications from current grantees for up to 6 years in any grant category. After this time, the group must take a 1-year break before they can reapply for funds. They are then eligible for another 6 years of funding in that category. A group switching categories does not need to take a 1-year break.

In order to be eligible for renewal funds:

  • All renewal applications must continue to meet all eligibility guidelines;
  • After the initial 6 years of funding, groups must have secured funding sources in addition to North Star Fund.

Rapid Response Grants

Purpose of grants: To support organizing and activism that requires on-the-spot funding for immediate action on the most urgent issues of our time. The commitment and ability to respond quickly and strategically to the time-critical realities of dealing with abuses of power sets North Star Fund apart among foundations supporting grassroots community organizing and activism.

Larger Rapid Response Grants with a timeline of six months to one year enable grantees to access additional research, legal, media, policy and organizing expertise at a critical point in a grassroots community organizing campaign. These grants are designed to provide a needed infusion of technical assistance or capacity building to push a campaign to its goal.

Grant Amounts: Up to $5,000 for immediate actions; Up to $15,000 for short-term strategic capacity building

Eligible Groups: Organizations engaged in community organizing; if the applicant is a coalition, the request must come from a partner that is engaged in community organizing.

Deadline and Application Instructions: Organizations may apply for a Rapid Response Grant at any time. To apply, call (212) 620-9110 for an initial phone interview. If you are eligible for a Rapid Response Grant, you will be asked to submit a 1-page request. Organizations may receive one Rapid Response Grant per year.

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Donor Advised Grants

North Star Fund partners with progressive donors to meet their philanthropic goals. Some donor activists know exactly which organizations they would like to support. Others have broad areas of interest and want North Star Fund's advice in finding organizations that are working on the issues that matter to them. Still other partners come to North Star to take advantage of our expertise in setting up community-led grantmaking programs.

Most donor advised fund grants do not have an application process. North Star Fund recommends groups that we know are doing effective, cutting-edge work in a donor's interest areas, many of whom are current or former grantees. However, for donor advised funds which utilize a community process, there is often an application process. Any information on applying for donor advised grants can be found in this section of our website, as it is available.

Greening Western Queens Fund

The Greening Western Queens Fund is a $7.9 million initiative to invest in energy-efficiency and environmental projects in the Western Queens community affected by the July 2006 electric power outage.

The Greening Western Queens Fund seeks to support projects that will result in tangible, physical and visible improvements to the Long Island City, Woodside, Sunnyside, and Astoria areas.

Applications are no longer being accepted for the Greening Western Queens Fund. For more information about the Greening Western Queens Fund, the boundaries, and the funding priorities, please click here.

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NYC Venture Philanthropy Fund

Each year, the NYC Venture Philanthropy Fund offers a grant to an innovative, start-up nonprofit that is addressing a major social problem facing New York City. VPF members vote to determine the area of focus for each year's grant. Past areas of focus for the grantmaking have included poverty, education and the environment. The grant consists of a cash award, as well as pro bono consulting services provided by VPF members. For more information and how to apply, visit the NYC VPF website at www.nycvpf.org.

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Technical Assistance

More than funding, North Star Fund provides skills development through workshops in grassroots fundraising, board development, volunteer management, working with media.

More about our Technical Assistance program.

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