Got an idea or project to address racial inequity?
Can you talk about it on video for a few minutes?
You could get $3,000 to make your idea happen.
First announced in October, Forward Community Investment’s Game Changer Grant Program got 55 applications in its first round and has already funded four projects in Milwaukee, Madison and Oshkosh, with two more grants to be announced in May and June.
The second round of applications is now open, through noon on May 31.
Fit Oshkosh, Workers’ Rights Center, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and Neighborhood House have all received grants. 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.
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 June 12. 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 email@example.com.