Social Justice Grants
501(c)(3) Social Justice Grants in the United States
Find social justice grants for your 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization here. This compiled list of social justice grants will help you start finding funding for your nonprofit organization.
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Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation seeks to dramatically improve the lives of people and the world around us through innovative strategies, systems changing approaches, and disrupting technologies. Our goal is to find social entrepreneurs with dynamic ideas and nurture them at the early stages with maximum leverage and total commitment.
Prospects for our portfolio of social enterprises come from a vast field of compelling ideas and dedicated leaders. We concentrate our selection on the capabilities of the founder/leader, the scalability of the model, and the potential impact of the organization on the world.
We have an open application process and accept applications year round. Borrowed from our venture capital legacy we find exceptional entrepreneurs, provide them with 3 years of unrestricted capital (totaling $300,000) and provide rigorous on-going support by joining their board of directors for the 3 years and partnering with the leader to help them to build capacity in their organization and scale their impact.
What We Fund
We look for exceptional entrepreneurs
We seek out entrepreneurs who exhibit characteristics of extraordinary leadership: vision, intelligence, influence, ambition, discretion and follow-through. Draper Richards Kaplan entrepreneurs have proven track records that demonstrate a full spectrum of competencies.
We look for potential to scale
To affect meaningful change upon the major challenges of our time, we need big solutions to big problems. We support social enterprises — non profit, for profit and hybrid organizations — that can expand enough to directly benefit a large number of beneficiaries and impart enough momentum to influence broader systems that encumber progress. Scaled organizations act as models to other groups in the sector and have the clout to affect policy, public opinion, and economies.
We look for sustainable impact
We look for leveraged solutions that will create lasting positive change. We look for game-changing ideas that create better opportunities and outcomes for the future.
- Arts & Culture
- Civic Engagement
- Economic Empowerment
- Energy & Environment
- Environment & Climate Change
- Food & Agriculture
- Social Justice
- Systemic Poverty
Global Fund for Children
NOTE: Organizations that believe they meet these criteria can submit an organizational profile at any time. If your organizational profile falls within our priorities, selection criteria, and funding availability, we will follow up to learn more about your organization. Due to the volume of inquiries, we cannot respond to each organization individually.
Global Fund for Children invests in grassroots organizations around the world to help children and youth reach their full potential and advance their rights.
- We research, explore, and identify innovative groups working with children and youth around the world.
- We invest wisely, funding our partners’ life-changing programs for children and youth and keeping a watchful eye on how those funds are put to use.
- We advise, mentor, and guide our partners. We build mutual trust, accountability, and enduring relationships. We provide tools for self-assessment. We support and help our partners grow.
- We connect our partners to each other and to national and regional networks. We bring together brilliant minds to share knowledge, fuel advocacy, and build movements of social change.
- Our greatest joy comes from knowing that we played a part in helping our partners grow strong enough to continue their important work for children without us.
Eligibility Criteria & Selection Guidelines
At Global Fund for Children, we invite you to join our growing grassroots network if you have shown great potential to improve the lives of children and youth who face poverty, injustice, and discrimination. As we embrace learning and collaboration, we hope you will serve as a model and resource for other community-based partners dedicated to the same big goals.
Together with our partners, we are building a future where all young people enjoy equal resources and opportunities in society and can live to their full potential.
Our work advances the rights of children and youth across four focus areas and five regions. We have a deep commitment to courageous organizations that support young people facing poverty, injustice, and discrimination.
We support grassroots organizations that are not afraid to tackle the root causes of poverty with innovative, local solutions. Most offer holistic care to comprehensively address the needs of each child. Many become regional and national leaders in children’s rights—raising awareness, influencing policy, and ultimately impacting thousands of children and youth beyond their doors.
EducationPoverty and injustice—and the many hardships that accompany them—deny millions of children the opportunity to learn. We promote the right of all children to access high-quality education, regardless of their circumstances.
Worldwide, 124 million children and adolescents are out of school. Millions more who do attend school do not acquire basic skills in mathematics and reading. And every day, conditions beyond their control—gender, ethnicity, economic status, geography, conflict, disaster—force children and youth to drop out. But giving up on them isn’t an option.
At Global Fund for Children, we believe that educating children and youth is the key to building a more peaceful and just society. When we equip young people with education and skills, we unlock their potential to contribute to their families and transform their communities.
We support education from children’s earliest years to secondary school and on through university or vocational training. We place a strong emphasis on girls’ education to address the current and historical disadvantage for girls, improving access and quality and ensuring that girls have safe, girl-friendly places to learn. For refugees, children with disabilities, child laborers, and more, we prioritize inclusive, innovative educational programming that meets children and youth where they are and addresses their unique needs. For older youth, we support life skills, vocational, and entrepreneurship education so that they are empowered to make smart decisions, build financial resilience, and shape their own futures.
Young people have the right to protect their bodies, raise their voices, and define their futures. But millions are denied these rights every day. We work to ensure that all children—regardless of their gender or their sexual identity—can be safe, learn, lead, and thrive.
Around the world, girls, young women, and LGBTQ youth—particularly those who are ethnic minorities or refugees, live in rural areas, or belong to other highly marginalized populations—face exclusion, violence, and discrimination. Too often, they are left out of decisions that determine their futures. At Global Fund for Children, we defend the right of all children to live free from discrimination and harmful gender-based attitudes and practices.
We believe that investing in girls delivers invaluable returns to the girls themselves, their families, and their communities, while confronting historical inequalities in societies worldwide. In fact, it’s essential to ending poverty and injustice. We also believe that traditional gender norms limit the full range of possibilities for boys and young men.
Through the work of our grassroots partners, we support girls’ education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, redefining masculinity, and the eradication of gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices, including child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting. Our strategies engage entire communities—including parents, schools, community leaders, and local and national governments —to work collectively toward gender justice. We equip girls with knowledge and skills that will help them lead independent lives and empower them to become agents of change, while ensuring the men and boys in their lives are engaged in building a more equitable world.
We also support programs that specifically address the needs of LGBTQ youth and help them achieve equal rights around the world.
Our grassroots partners provide shelter to LGBTQ youth who are fleeing violence or persecution, run LGBTQ support groups and summer camps, and offer essential health information and services. Our commitment to gender equity also values advocacy on sexual rights and sexual and gender identity, helping to create a safe and welcoming world for all children and youth.
Right now, the largest youth population in history is coming of age, and most of these young people live in the developing world. It’s a challenge—and an opportunity—we can’t ignore.
According to the United Nations, 89% of the world’s youth live in developing countries. At the same time, youth unemployment is on the rise. And work alone does not mean prosperity: nearly 40% of working youth live in poverty. Together, these challenges pose an enormous threat to our global economic and political stability—unless we seize the opportunity.
By investing in young people, we advance youth rights and work to transform the youth “bulge” into a powerhouse of innovation, opportunity, and social change.
At Global Fund for Children, we empower thousands of youth by equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to lead lives of dignity, purpose, and economic stability. Our approach involves engaging young people who are also the least likely to have access to mainstream education and training, including girls, refugees, young people with disabilities, and youth engaged in hazardous work.
But economic opportunity is only part of the picture. We prioritize programs that advance young people’s political and civil participation and rights; that amplify youth voices, increase their decision-making powers, and raise awareness of their rights and needs; and that empower young people to educate and inspire their peers to act.
Freedom from Violence and Exploitation
All children deserve to grow up free from danger and harm—yet millions are threatened by war, trafficking, violence, and abuse. For survivors and children at risk, we work to bring safety and dignity to their lives.
Children and youth who live outside of mainstream society—and who are therefore most at risk of violence and exploitation—are often overlooked. Physical, psychological, and sexual abuse happen behind closed doors; poverty and inequality make children more vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking; war and community violence uproot children and youth from their homes and families. Their physical and psychosocial well-being is threatened. And too often, cultural norms make it acceptable to ignore their suffering.
Not on our watch. Global Fund for Children is dedicated to creating systemic change to end violence and exploitation for children and to help young survivors rebuild their lives.
Our grassroots partners provide protection and holistic care to trafficked children, migrants and refugees, child laborers, and survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation. They work to secure children’s legal identities—a critical step toward ensuring children’s safety and access to social services. They prevent future abuses by educating the public, training service providers, and combating harmful cultural norms and practices. And by pushing for better laws and policies to protect children and youth, they contribute to a growing movement that will not accept anything less than safety and security for every child.
The Overbrook Foundation
NOTE: The Overbrook Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for support from organizations not currently funded by the Foundation. However, we remain committed to our primary fields of interest and are eager to hear news from organizations working in those areas of human and rights and the environment presently of priority to the Foundation.
The Overbrook Foundation is a progressive family foundation that supports organizations advancing human rights and conserving the natural environment.
Honoring the vision and dedication of its founders, Helen and Frank Altschul, The Overbrook Foundation:
- Honors its role as a steward of both the public trust and the Foundation's mission
- Advances programs ethically, responsibly and respectfully
- Is transparent and open
- Engages in its work in a deliberate and thoughtful way
- Takes measured risks
- Employs diverse approaches to seize opportunities and respond to challenges
- Supports social justice and environmental sustainability
- Promotes advocacy, accountability and reform of institutions and government
The Environment Program provides support to environmental organizations in the United States and in Latin America. In Latin America, the Program funds initiatives that advance biodiversity conservation and sustainable community development, with a specific focus on the Mesoamerican region. The Foundation’s Environment Program also seeks out initiatives, primarily in the United States, that tackle some of today’s biggest environmental challenges, including corporate and consumer practices, climate change, and waste. The Program’s Movement Building portfolio aims to understand and support movements – rather than specific organizations or issues – to make them stronger, more resilient, and more impactful.
The Foundation’s Environment Program will consider supporting organizations working on the following issues:
Latin American Biodiversity Conservation
The Overbrook Foundation recognizes the value of protecting endangered biodiversity and the vital environmental and social benefits it provides. The Biodiversity Conservation program area supports programs in Latin America, with a specific focus on Mesoamerica, where globally important species and ecosystems face a wide range of threats. The Foundation seeks out projects that create practical solutions to these threats, particularly those that promote sustainable livelihoods and engage local communities in conservation efforts.
Corporate and Consumer Practices
The Foundation’s Corporate and Consumer Practices program area supports organizations that build towards a sustainable future, particularly by shifting corporate and consumer environmental practices. Funded projects range from direct engagement with corporations, to activism against destructive industries, to public education and media that amplifies efforts to improve consumer behavior surrounding energy and consumption. These initiatives work towards a sustainable economy that relies less on destructive, extractive practices and more on renewable, circular production and consumption models. In seeking projects making an impact in these areas, the Foundation prioritizes organizations that are grassroots-led, that hold the potential to serve as industry or community “tipping points,” and that apply a climate change analysis to their work.
Advances in technology, the growth of social media, and increased global awareness and investment are providing new and exciting environmental tools. The Foundation began a small program area that invests in organizations that are creating, developing, and implementing new and innovative approaches to sustainability and conservation.
The Movement Building program area was created in 2014 in an effort to understand and support movements – rather than specific organizations or issues – to make them stronger, more resilient, and more impactful. This area supports organizations that build networks and alliances, recognize the interdependence of their work with that of other organizations, and seek to advance the mission of the broader progressive movement, beyond individual issue areas. While formally a part of the Foundation’s Environment Program, the Movement Building portfolio ties together the Environment and Human Rights Programs, emphasizing organizations that work in the intersections of both movements.
The Overbrook Foundation has supported civil and human rights since its earliest years. Carrying this legacy forward, Overbrook currently provides funding to human rights organizations in the United States and Latin America.
For Overbrook, human rights organizations are those that see human rights as universal, inalienable, indivisible and interdependent. They lead with the people and communities impacted by the issues they are working on. They are values driven, have an all of us or none of us perspective in their analysis and messaging, and they work across sectors and identities, recognizing the range of their constituents’ needs and rights. Overbrook’s human rights grantmaking is currently focused on three programmatic initiatives and one initiative remains in development.
Internationally, the Foundation funds organizations that support human rights defenders at risk in Mesoamerica. As a part of this focus, Overbrook supports groups providing legal assistance, training, emergency grants, advocacy, accompaniment, networks and/or psychosocial support to human rights defenders at risk given the grave threats many activists face for engaging in their important human rights work.
Domestically, the Foundation currently awards grants in two areas. First, it supports organizations challenging the undue influence of moneyed interests in the U.S. political system. These organizations are working to make our government and policy makers more accountable to the people by reforming the role of money in our political system. The Foundation’s gender rights program currently supports organizations working across reproductive justice and LGBT rights issues. This includes a focus on funding organizations advancing the reproductive justice movement and those challenging overly broad religious exemptions being used to undermine LGBT rights, racial justice and reproductive justice.
Finally, the Foundation is exploring a newer area of grantmaking using a human rights approach to challenge mass incarceration and criminalization, building on Overbrook’s long term support for organizations advancing a U.S. human rights movement. This initiative remains in development.
As described above, the Foundation’s Human Rights grantmaking can be divided into the following initiatives:
- Domestic Human Rights
- Gender Rights
- Human Rights Defenders
- Money in Politics
The Pollination Project
The Pollination Project seeks to unleash the goodness in every person. Through a daily practice of generosity and giving, we make seed grants- 365 days a year- to social change agents who seek to spread compassion in their communities and in the world for the benefit of all.
The Pollination Project values “compassion consciousness.”
Compassion consciousness means we think through and acknowledge the impact of our choices and our work: from the food we eat, to the questions we ask, to the office supplies we use, to the projects we fund and, ultimately, to the institutions and systems we challenge.
As we are deeply interconnected to all life, we play an integral role in supporting or obstructing its ability to thrive, through our thoughts, words, and deeds. Every person has the potential and power to transform our world, and that change starts with ourselves. How we show up is like the soil in which we plant our intentions, vision and hope for the world. If we are fearful, anxious, angry and resentful, what we plant will reflect this. If our soil is rich with love, compassion, beauty and joy, what we plant will be loving, compassionate, beautiful and joyful. As we are, so our work is.
As Dr. Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Compassion consciousness includes lifting up the oppressed, the unseen and the voiceless. Expanding compassion towards ALL life: human and non-human, is our highest intention.
We seek to fund at the very grassroots. We are interested in projects that are created by and with those who are most impacted. We look to fund people and teams who have considered the many ways their project impacts life, directly and indirectly, all over the world and who have made thoughtful choices about how to achieve their goals.
Project Funding Areas
- Animal Rights & Welfare
- Arts & Culture
- Economic Empowerment
- Environmental Sustainability
- Health & Wellness
- Human Rights & Dignity
- Kindness & Generosity
- Leadership Development
- Schools & Education
Pollination Project Seed Grant
The Purpose of a Pollination Project Seed Grant is to support passionate, committed people with an early-stage social change vision.
Our Grants are designed to:
- Support passionate, committed people with a social change vision.
- Support projects in their early stage of development and where a small amount of money will go a very long way – we want to kick start your dreams for a better world.
- Help ensure sustainability of your work – during review, we often ask: “what happens once the grant runs out?”
- Cover costs such as supplies, program materials, direct travel expenses, website fees, discounted professional services, printing, copying, promotional costs, technical support.
- Pay for 501(c)(3) filing fees and expenses only if your project meets our specific conditions.
- Support projects with a clear target audience, and a compelling plan to reach and impact that target audience in a positive way.
- If your project involves video or other media production, then this element of your plan will receive particularly careful attention from our team.
- Support projects that do not expect to earn profit, or where any income will be used for a purely charitable effort. We do also offer Pay it forward loans to support for-profit social benefit projects.
- The goal of our funding is to provide the means for individuals and small, not yet established, organizations to really kick start their work. If you currently pay any full time staff members on a regular basis, then you likely do not qualify for a grant with The Pollination Project.
We consider ongoing expenses to be things like paying rent on an existing lease, paying utility bills, or other costs that generally keep the lights on for an already established organization but do not directly lead to the future sustainability or expansion of a project.
Cowles Charitable Trust
NOTE: The Trust Board of Trustees meets four times a year in January, April, July and October to consider grant requests. An eligible request that arrives too late for one meeting will be placed on the agenda of the following meeting. Proposals must be received on the following dates to be included in the agendas noted:
December 1 - January agenda
March 1 - April agenda
June 1 - July agenda
September 1 - October agenda
If any of the above dates fall on a weekend or holiday, the proposal must be received the first working day following the published deadline.
Our mission is to continue and further the philanthropic legacy of Gardner Cowles, Jr. and the Cowles family, which includes promotion of education, social justice, health, and the arts.
The Cowles Charitable Trust was first established in 1948 by Gardner “Mike” Cowles, Jr. (1903-1985). Born into the Cowles publishing family of Des Moines, Iowa, Mike was the youngest of Gardner Cowles and Florence Call Cowles’ six children. A newspaper editor and publisher by trade, he was committed to his family’s traditions of responsible, public-spirited, and innovative journalism as well as philanthropy.
Mike always said that his mother, through her liberal social views, humor, and soft-spoken nature, was his greatest influence. One of the first women in Iowa to earn her college degree, Florence Call made philanthropy her life’s work, beginning by establishing a seed savings bank in her living room to help neighboring farmers through the winter. A strong advocate of women’s reproductive rights and family planning, she supported Margaret Sanger’s mission, including bailing her out of jail on more than one occasion.
Mike continued his mother’s legacy of activism and was politically engaged both nationally and internationally. The Cowles family was passionate about civil rights and race relations in 20th century America, as demonstrated not only through their philanthropy but also via their trade. In a 1955 speech detailing what makes a great editor, Mike said:
“The greatest editors I know are just like the greatest educators and are successful for the same reason. They are thoughtful men with scrupulous regard for the truth. They are men who strive to stir the best in the human race, not pander to the worst. They are men who dare to lead, even when the direction is temporarily dangerous and unpopular.”
With his brother John, Mike was co-owner of Cowles Media Company. In 1937, he published the first issue of LOOK, a national picture magazine with roots in Mike’s passion for photojournalism and the journalistic innovations that the brothers had implemented at their newspapers. For Mike, LOOK was a visual tool meant to inspire and open the world to its readers; an instrument meant to facilitate one of his greatest passions: education. Of education, Mike stated in a 1949 speech:
“The only answer to ignorance is education and more education. And I mean more than just the formal education in more and better schools, colleges and universities. I mean more adult education, more public forums, more discussion groups. But above everything else, I mean better newspaper and magazine editing, better news and discussion and debate programs on the radio. And I mean the use of the powerful new medium of television to make people understand and think. Too much thinking nowadays goes on in a bath of noise, because life is so busy, so complex…leaving the common man appallingly confused and misinformed.”
Mike Cowles left to his family a philanthropic legacy that continues to this day. The majority of the Cowles Charitable Trust’s current trustees are Mike’s direct descendants.
For more information on Mike Cowles and the Cowles family, click here.
Jewish Helping Hands
Every act of tikkun olam—of repairing the world—is a spark that will light the way for the future.
Purpose of Grants
Jewish Helping Hands launched its Tikkun Olam Grant program in 2012 to advance our goal of inspiring and supporting tzedakah, justice and righteousness, throughout the world. Our goal is to help vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad through a variety of programs focused on economic development and social empowerment, with a particular focus on those demographics that have been overlooked and/or marginalized.
In cooperation with local communities, JHH supports programs that are sustainable and scalable through financial and hands-on support. Our objective is to promote organizations and projects that will make a tangible and lasting difference in the lives of the populations they serve. With each of our grants, JHH also intends to share its experience and expertise, so as to help further our joint mission.
Criteria for Grants
JHH values programs and projects that aim to bring about positive change for groups of all backgrounds and religious affiliations.
JHH will consider making grants to individuals or organizations that show clear promise to achieve one or both of the following:
- Respond to unmet needs of those who are poor and/or marginalized
- Promote self-help and empowerment within communities
In the 2021 Grant Cycle, we are focusing primarily on projects that provide the basic necessities for a decent life:
- Women’s Empowerment
- Internet Connectivity
We are also focusing especially on projects in these areas:
- Central America
- United States
- Any Impoverished Jewish Communities