March 12, 2018

Funding to advance equitable outcomes for marginalized communities

The Building Community portfolio is excited to share this year's open call for applications between March 15 and April 18. Approximately $4.3 million in funding has been designated to advance three goals:

  • Community connection and belonging.
  • Strong nonprofit leaders and organizations.
  • Civic engagement and systems change.

Our portfolio's goals for this coming year represent an adjustment from what we had been using over the past two years. The adjustments were made, in part, based on feedback we received from grantees and applicants and are an attempt to more clearly communicate the focus of the portfolio. Arts and culture aimed at encouraging inclusion, for example, had been a distinct goal in the past. With the new changes, arts and culture organizations are eligible to apply in any of the goal areas. More information on these three goal areas can be found in the Goals and Outcomes section of our website. Additional insight on arts organizations can be found here.

This portfolio is focused on both creating opportunities to equitable outcomes and removing barriers that make these outcomes difficult to achieve. Equitable outcomes for communities that have been and continue to be marginalized are of particular interest to us as are the different ways in which these communities have a voice in decisions that impact their lives. We believe that when people are part of inclusive and supportive communities — when they can see promising paths for themselves, influence decisions that affect them and connect with others and express their shared humanity — they can truly thrive. And we all benefit.

Put another way, the Building Community portfolio is interested in who is served and how they are involved in achieving equitable outcomes for themselves. Through our investments, we hope to encourage a sense of shared responsibility for creating a multicultural society in which all people can thrive and realize their full potential. More insight on how we think about determining whether or not there is a fit between your work and Meyer's goals can be found here.

Learning from the past two years

With the benefit of two years of grantmaking as a program, the Building Community team and board of trustees have tried to learn from applicants and grantees about how the priorities of this portfolio are understood and how the work toward equitable outcomes takes shape. We always appreciate feedback!

In our 2017 round of funding, we received 284 applications or roughly $31 million in requests. With a budget of $4.6 million, we were able to make 66 grants — about 23 percent of all applicants. Notable characteristics from last year's batch include:

  • An increase in the percentage of applicants from rural communities (from 30 percent in 2016 to 37 percent in 2017) and from those who work statewide (from 14 percent to 20 percent over the two years).
  • A slight increase in the percentage of first-time applicants (15 percent in 2016 to 18 percent in 2017).
  • An increase in applicants seeking capacity building support (from 30 percent to 42 percent).
  • A drop in those requesting operating support (from 15 percent in 2016 to 10 percent in 2017).
  • About 60 percent of applicants in 2017 reported that they were in the early stages (i.e., Not Yet Started, Ready to Start or Launched) of our diversity, equity and inclusion spectrum tool.

Get more information

Over the next month, Meyer staff will be traveling the state to share information about the 2018 funding opportunity and our four portfolios. A list of information sessions can be found here. The Building Community team will be hosting two portfolio-specific webinars on April 3 and April 6, where we will provide more details about our grantmaking and respond to specific questions.

Of course, you can also visit our new Applicant Resources page for more information. And feel free to contact us at questions [at] mmt.org.

Dahnesh