Movement Building for Racial Justice Fund Grant

Woods Fund of Chicago

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Predicted deadline: Sep 7, 2021

Grant amount: US $500,000

Fields of work: Racial / Ethnic Justice & Rights

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Cook County, Illinois

Location of residency: Cook County, Illinois

990 Snapshot



Movement Building

Woods Fund Chicago is excited to announce our first Movement Building for Racial Justice Fund. We define movement building as the myriad of ways that organizations working on progressive social change break out of the confines of single issues and organizational silos to make larger connections. These connections forge collaborations and active partnerships that advance the vision, values, and aligned goals that link them together in principle, although not routinely in shared practice. The creation of the Fund is a response to the current pandemic crisis, the social conditions it has produced, the racial inequities it has amplified, and the need for bold action in the face of an otherwise debilitating and confusing reality. As we are painfully aware, the virus is profoundly impacting communities of color, particularly Black and Latinx communities, and all of the systemic disparities that have existed for generations are laid bare at this moment. 

In a fundamental sense, we realize now more than ever that we need each other. Therefore, we invite bold, creative, and collaborative proposals that will establish some of the connective tissue to grow multi-organizational, multi-issue social movements. We invite applicants to think creatively about the projects, campaigns, and structures that can link us to one another, break down silos, and make us stronger and more effective together than when we are apart. Even though there are certainly single issue “movements” — like reproductive rights, health care or immigration — we are inviting proposals that connect multiple issues, communities, and sectors, and are sustainable and grounded in the spirit of solidarity across boundaries of difference. We know that trusting and ongoing relationships between different organizing communities are desperately needed to build solidarity across race and issues — and to propel the organizing sector beyond this crisis — and we want to be in a position to advance that work.

Supporting this type of work will allow for some of the most brazen and innovative organizers, advocates, and thought leaders in the country — living here in Chicago — to begin long-term planning for a radically changing landscape with regards to racial justice and economic work. We believe that this approach supports our mission, the mission of our grantee partners, and the larger ecosystem of forces working toward the dual goals of building racial justice and combatting debilitating poverty and wealth inequality. While as a foundation it is not our place to be prescriptive, we feel it is our duty to be responsive. Looking at the racial justice landscape, we see many parallel efforts with overlapping goals. We hear similar aspirations articulated by different and disparate communities. We observe challenges and successes with not enough opportunity for shared lessons and strategies. And we see a tremendous amount of creativity born of crisis. 

Woods Fund will seed one movement building collaborative with a 2-year $500,000 grant. We will not pre-identify the groups that should apply for this Fund nor the outcomes for this Fund. This is an opportunity for our grantee partners, as well as organizing groups that have historically not been a part of the Woods Fund portfolio, to apply as part of a movement building collaborative, and for the organizing sector to consider engaging a broader set of allies. Organizers are aware of what they need and hope to accomplish — and we look forward to learning the aspirations and outcomes that are articulated in the proposals. We seek proposals that articulate an intersectional lens to movement building, in which a broad spectrum of human identities are represented, that will address root structures and systems, center on those most marginalized, use inclusive organizational models and have a clear vision of the future of Chicago. All proposals must be submitted as a movement building collaborative, in metropolitan Chicago, with a fiscal sponsor that is a current Woods Fund Chicago grantee partner. Woods Fund Chicago grantee partners should make up 50% of the co-applicants. Application guidelines and instructions are listed on our website.

 To our bold and innovative organizing community, we ask — how will you be with each other in this moment? Who will you call upon to be your allies in creating a racially just Chicago? We look forward to seeing your answers.

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


  • A compelling proposal will:
    • Project a just future that centers movement building and solidarity work
    • Articulate an intersectional, cross-issue alliance, rooted in racial and economic justice movement building involving individuals and groups cross-race, cross-community, and intergenerational.
    • Promote a shared vision of Chicago that guarantees the basic needs of the most vulnerable are met, so that we can thrive as a city, together.
    • Articulate a shared vision to continually build and aggregate power, enabling the collaborative to take on bigger policy issues and expand its base of allies to increase its impact over time.
    • Incorporate the practice of distributed (as opposed to top-down) leadership. There should not be one central organization anchoring this application, but rather an alliance of co-applicants, with clearly defined roles & responsibilities for each.
      • Include MOUs which outline agreed-upon roles and payments for each organization and individuals participating in the movement building collaborative. See this document from Building for examples of roles. Here is a template of an MOU to use. 
    • Include a racial equity analysis including specifically how the collaborative will avoid, minimize or combat anti-Blackness and sexism within its orbit.
    • Prioritize co-applicants that are small, grassroots organizations.
    • Center marginalized, affected populations as co-applicants and/or as decision-makers.
    • Offer interventions that respond to the urgency of the moment and put communities in a stronger place post-pandemic.
    • Leverage existing community strengths and resources.
    • Include a political/racial equity education component that helps to give disparate organizers more of a shared vocabulary, knowledge base, set of references, and theoretical frameworks to build on.
    • Ideally, the project should grow out of and build upon existing relationships that could be deepened through this project.
    • Articulate goals that the identified movement building collaborative aspires to accomplish in the first 12 months (October 2020 - September 2021)
    • Woods Fund Chicago will seed one movement building collaborative with a two-year grant award of $500,000. Funds may be used to compensate each affiliated organization for their time or may be used to pay for items such as retreats, convenings, meeting facilitation, etc. The foundation can (if indicated by the funded collaborative):
      • Provide support for relationship-building, create spaces for regular communication and strategy building.
      • Provide a meeting facilitator.
      • Create spaces for convenings.
      • Facilitate healing circles.


This page was last reviewed July 23, 2021 and last updated July 23, 2021