Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation Grant

Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $550,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building, General Operating Expense, Project / Program

Location of project: Arkansas, Georgia (US state), Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina Show all

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



NOTE: The Foundation’s board reviews proposals in June and October of each year. We invite applications from organizations we deem eligible after reviewing their organizational summaries.

Mission & Vision

The Babcock Foundation’s mission is to help people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice. We recognize that poverty is complicated and multi-faceted. We believe in the need for significant changes in the systems and structures—laws, behaviors, attitudes, policies and institutions—that make a difference to people and their communities. To overcome tough barriers, people often need concrete assistance, like access to employment, workforce training or affordable housing, that results in direct improvements and supports them in achieving their full potential. We also believe people who develop skills and believe
 in themselves can successfully improve their own lives and act collectively to increase opportunity for themselves and their communities.

Our vision for the South is anchored in a belief in people, organizations and the power of partnerships. We believe more people must directly influence the institutions and leaders that shape their economic and civic lives. Better policy and more collaborative institutions, public and private, should provide supportive and equitable ladders of economic opportunity. More people and communities need to access, control and build assets essential for economic mobility and stability. Progress along all three pathways—civic engagement, supportive policy and institutions, and economic opportunity—is critical to moving people and places out of poverty.

We recognize there are serious challenges to this vision in the South and beyond: Structural racism and other forms of discrimination are major barriers. Political control remains too concentrated. Disinvestment in public goods like education and the safety net has eroded the foundation people need to get ahead. The economy too often rewards short-term market behavior that hurts low-wealth people, communities and natural systems.

Overcoming these challenges and advancing this vision is not easy work. It takes long- term and patient investment. It takes collaboration among unusual partners. It takes effective and well-resourced organizations, enterprises and networks working together in new ways across race, geography, strategy and issues. It requires low-wealth and directly affected people to be central to the solutions in their communities and across the region. It takes
 a commitment to democracy, equity and inclusion.

While these solutions are not simple, we believe they are not only possible but essential to promoting economic opportunity and reducing poverty and inequality in the South.

Our Approaches

Layered Strategies

We don't believe in a "silver bullet" approach to poverty alleviation. Investments in multiple organizations and coalitions over time, using complementary strategies and informed by their understanding of place, are most successful.

Engage with all Assets

We strategically deploy 100 percent of our financial assets (grants, program-related investments and market-rate investments), use our intellectual and reputational capital to influence and leverage investments from other sources, communicate strategically and look for opportunities to convene grantees and other partners for peer learning. We deploy staff as "network officers" to engage deeply in a place, learn the context and determine how best to support our partners.

Robust Networks

We believe networks of people and organizations who bring together diverse strategies, capacities and perspectives have greater impact than those working alone. We support efforts to develop leaders who are directly affected and connect them to partners and opportunities that increase their influence.

Capacity Building

We aim to strengthen every dimension (program, governance, management, administration, finance, culture, etc.) of healthy organizations and networks through patient, long-term general support and attention to organizational development.

Shared Learning

Since its founding in 1953, the Babcock Foundation has been building on its experiences to hone its work and tell the story of the South. We reflect on and capture lessons and share them broadly with our grantee and philanthropic partners. We seek out important crosscutting topics, commission research as needed and share our findings with our colleagues in the field. 


There are many Souths. Each state and region has its own context, history, challenges and opportunities. We believe an understanding of and focus on place are central to defining unique opportunities, challenges and partnerships to move people and places out of poverty.

Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation Grant

We support nonprofits helping people & places move out of poverty & achieve greater social & economic justice.

The Foundation also remains open to new thinking about how to address poverty in the South. In addition to our primary focus, MRBF is interested in supporting new approaches to achieving economic opportunity, systems and policy change, or democracy and civic engagement outcomes. These efforts must demonstrably advance our vision of social and economic justice in the South. Our annual grantmaking allocation for new approaches is significantly smaller than for our primary focus. 

Types of grants

Organizations may use grant funds in a variety of ways, including:

  • General operating support 
  • Project support
  • “Glue” support for networks of grassroots and partner organizations
  • Organizational development support

The size and duration of grants is matched to the applicant’s scale of impact, need, capabilities and opportunities, and typically follow these guidelines: 

  • We provide one-year funding for initial grants We consider continuation of funding in two-year increments 
  • We rarely make grants that exceed 30% of a project or organizational budget

Program-related investments (PRIs): We look for opportunities to make below-market-rate investments to spur economic development in low-wealth communities.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Who We Support
    • We look for promising work that reflects the opportunity in its place, aligns with the Foundation’s mission and demonstrates the following characteristics:
      • Connections with low-wealth people. Applicants must have meaningful connections with low-wealth people and communities. We encourage networks that include both grassroots organizations and institutional partners. Applicants that are not accountable to low-wealth people through their governance structures must demonstrate 1) impact in low-wealth communities, 2) trusting relationships with low-wealth people and 3) an analysis of poverty that recognizes the need to address systems and policy.
      • Clear analysis and strategies. Competitive applicants will have clear, promising strategies for moving people and places out of poverty, including institutional or policy change at the local, state and/or regional levels. These strategies should flow from an understanding of short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities in their places.
      • Networks, alliances and resources. We look for goal-oriented, flexible relationships among the non-profit, public and private sectors to leverage resources and achieve impact. The networks may be formal or informal, short-term or long-term, and structured in a variety of ways. The networks should employ multiple social-change strategies or pathways of change that make sense in their places.
      • Long-term view. We are interested in efforts that take a long-term view of what is required for people and places to move out of poverty, and systems and policy changes that open doors to democratic participation and economic opportunities.
      • Strategic and opportunistic. We are interested in long-term, patient work to build critical infrastructure in local communities, states and the region. We are also interested in supporting work where the moment to act is now to make significant change or leverage significant resources that will have long-term impact on the lives of many people and communities.
  • Where We Work
    • The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation funds across the South, but given the region's size and complexity, we focus the majority of our efforts in priority places where promising networks are advancing complementary outcomes.
  • To qualify, an organization must have:
    • Mission and impact consistent with our grant-making priorities 
    • A track record of managing debt or equity investments 
    • A solid business plan
    • Other investors


  • At this time, we have particular interest in supporting economic transition work in Central Appalachia, civic engagement in Georgia and North Carolina, civic engagement for local and state policy change in Arkansas and Louisiana, and community economic development efforts in South Carolina.