Got an idea or project to address racial inequity?
Can you talk about it on video for a few minutes?
You might get $3,000 to make your idea happen.
First announced in 2016, Forward Community Investment’s Game Changer Grant Program got 55 applications in its first round and has already funded more than two dozen projects across the state, with more announcements expected soon.
Applications are now open for 2019, and will be accepted until Monday, May 20.
A wide range of organizations like Fit Oshkosh, Workers’ Rights Center, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Neighborhood House, Voces de la Frontera, Health Connect, the Fox Valley Boys and Girls Club’s STAR Program and Allied Health Center have received grants over the past three years. All they needed to do was create a video of less than five minutes describing their project and fill out one short form — a much simpler and quicker process than most grant applications.
“The Game Changer Grant submission process was super easy. We shot the entire video on my cell phone,” says Claire Von Fossen of Neighborhood House. “I am the only full time staff person in development here which made it great that it was not time consuming at all. We incorporated members of our staff and teens in the video which allowed us to showcase the personality of the Neighborhood House. We enjoyed the process very much and had a lot of fun doing it. I would like to thank FCI for offering this unique and easy opportunity for funding for our program and encourage you all to apply!”
“We were extremely excited to hear that we received a Game Changer Grant from FCI because it means that we can build more sustainable programs for our clients and our organization,” says Carla Garces of the Latino Academy of Workforce Development. “ It’s always great to start a Monday morning with a call from an organization like FCI awarding you more funding to help your programs! We are very thankful.”
Forward Community Investments Board Member Jaimes Johnson, who served on the committee that evaluated the first round of applications, said the quality of the video was not a determining factor.
He said the committee was “able to quickly see those who were able to put time, energy and planning around creating the video versus those who just decided, ‘Here’s my phone – I’m just going to tell a story and away I go.’”
But both kinds of videos got equal consideration, Johnson said.
“I can’t think of one that wasn’t at least interesting,” he said, “which made it difficult because what it does is it gives you a really broad awareness of good work that people are doing in the community.”
The ease of the application process drew in some applicants that don’t normally seek grants of this kind — and that was the point. Applicants don’t even have to be officially recognized 501(c)(3) organizations, but must be a group of three or more.
“Our intent here was to provide a simple, transparent and easy process for those people who are doing great work throughout the communities in the state to communicate that and to apply,” Johnson said. “We wanted them to have an opportunity to tell their story in a way that was accessible to every organization.”
“None of us (small nonprofits) are heavily resourced. Often our little organizations are left out of the grant-making process,” said Tracey Robertson, CEO of Fit Oshkosh, which received a Game Changer Grant to provide racial literacy training. “We don’t have grant writers on staff. This particular model opens the floodgates for people who are doing great work but are limited by their resource pool. It was really refreshing to see this model that opens it up and makes it possible for anyone to participate and have a chance.”
FCI staff hope to bring in more applicants in this second round. Applications will be accepted through noon on May 31. Six awardees will be selected and announced each month beginning in July.
Full instructions are available here, from Forward Community Investments. Anyone with questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org.