Innovative Activism Grants
Thanks for your interest in Innovative Activism. North Star Fund awards 10 Innovative Activism grants per year. You can read about past Innovative Activism grantees here.
Currently, we are not accepting applications. These criteria may be subject to change before its official release in January 2019. This information is available for your research purposes.
Para información en español, por favor llame a la oficina: 212-620-9110.
Purpose of These Grants
While the vast majority of North Star Fund grants are awarded to community organizing, meaning grassroots organizations that lead campaigns and build a membership base, North Star Fund offers a limited number of grants to organizations that support the ecosystem of grassroots organizing.
Innovative Activism grants support exciting social justice work that creatively engages marginalized community members, develops their leadership, and addresses the root causes of systemic injustice in New York City.
Groups may apply under one of the following areas:
- Arts and Action: Arts, media, and cultural projects play an important role in engaging, influencing, and motivating people around social justice issues. North Star Fund supports projects or organizations that provide concrete, meaningful opportunities for participants and/or audience members to take collective action for social justice, preferably in the context of an ongoing campaign for systems or policy change. This could be in collaboration with an existing community organizing group. North Star Fund prioritizes organizations that enhance or complement the community organizing efforts of grassroots organizations.
- Resources for Organizing: Grassroots groups engaged in community organizing are often under-resourced. North Star Fund seeks projects that build the capacity of organizing groups based in marginalized communities and/or marginalized community members. Examples of this might include but are not limited to: training in organizational development or organizing skills, and participatory action research or data collection. Organizations will be asked to describe how their work increases the effectiveness of grassroots, community organizing, preferably North Star Fund grantees.
- Alternative Institution Building: Existing government institutions and services fail low-income communities and communities of color. To challenge the foundations of injustice, North Star Fund supports building alternative institutions outside of these existing structures. 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 a community’s economic self-reliance.
North Star Fund’s general eligibility requirements do not apply to Innovative Activism grants because they are not as dependent upon campaign-based, membership-led organizing models.
Innovative Activism Eligibility
Organizations with budgets under $800,000 that:
- Bring new skills, ideas, tactics, and strategies to a community’s social change work
- Empower participants to develop their own creativity, leadership, vision, voice, and/or organizing skills
- Include meaningful participation in decision-making from community members and/or participants where the project is based
- Can articulate how race, gender, and class influence their work
- Advances a solution to address some of the root causes of injustice in New York City
- Have an established track record and relationships in the community in which the project is based
- Establish that the project will have an impact that will last beyond the grant period
Groups applying under “Resources for Organizing” will be expected to describe how that they will increase the capacity of their partner organizations to do their work.
Groups applying under “Arts & Activism” will be expected to describe meaningful collaborations with organizations that build “people power” and use community organizing as the primary strategy.
Grant applications are reviewed by local experts in grassroots community organizing. The all-volunteer Community Funding Committee assesses all proposals, meets in person with select applicants and determines grant awards.
Here are the steps you will take to apply for a grant from North Star Fund:
- Review criteria and application materials. Applicants can create an account on our application system, preview questions, and begin assembling the required information. North Star Fund staff are available to answer questions.
- Attend a How to Apply Workshop. This evening workshop is an opportunity to learn about available grant opportunities and how to submit an application through our online portal.
- Submit a complete application by the deadline. All applicants will receive a confirmation email.
- Applicants will be notified about site visits about one month after the application deadline. Some, but not all organizations, will be invited to meet with members of the Community Funding Committee.
- Application decisions will be announced about three months after the application deadline.
Frequently Asked Questions
Get your questions answered on our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.
How to Apply
Our goal is to make our application process as easy as possible. Here are some tips that may help you submit your online application
1. Gather information and documents. On our online application portal, you’ll be asked to share:
- Overview of demographic information of your members and leaders (e.g. total vs. active members, race, class, gender, class make-up)
- Financial information, including your operating budget, salaries of key staff members, and foundation/significant support for the current and most recent fiscal year
- Organizing projects of direct service or legal service providers or other larger entities will be asked to describe the nature of the relationship, including the extent of “back office” administrative and fundraising support
- Your organization’s meeting availabilities for site visits (Read more about site visits in our FAQ)
- Your 501(c)(3) letter or your fiscal sponsor’s 501(c)(3) letter and fiscal sponsorship agreement
3. Write proposal narrative (3-5 pages). You will be asked to describe your vision, campaign strategy, member leadership, and decision-making structures. Please note that we will accept proposal narratives submitted to other funders, best suited if such proposal pertains to community organizing.
4. Begin your application online via the Submittable website.
5. Upload your proposal narrative and 501(c)(3) letter/fiscal sponsor agreement to your Submittable application
6. Submit your application on the Submittable website. Once your application is submitted, you will receive an automatic receipt. Your application is not considered complete until you receive a confirmation email from our program staff. You will receive a confirmation email within 48 hours.
Still have questions? Get in touch with us.