Our grantees describe getting a grant from Chinook Fund as “becoming part of the Chinook family.”
We give grantees money, it is true, but also something else. A grant from Chinook Fund draws groups closer to Colorado’s progressive social change movement, via our unique grassroots community-led grantmaking process in which applicants meet each other and meet the grantmakers, who are also working in Colorado’s progressive social change movement.
Upcoming grant deadline for Fall 2023 cycle is Thursday, September 14, 2023
Applying for a grant from Chinook Fund is different from applying to other foundations. You’ll start to learn how as you check out our materials online or contact our staff. Our last fiscal year, we gave out close to $120,000 in grants through our grassroots community-led grantmaking process and Giving Project. This year, we will give out grants from $1,000 to $10,000 to a range of groups working on human rights, racial justice, economic justice, environmental protection, peace and other social justice issues.
Will your group be able to apply for a grant?
We prioritize proposals with leadership and constituency from historically marginalized communities and work that engages in Community Organizing (see definition in drop down below). We look for work that is collaborative, risk taking, and strategic. We fund groups with budgets under $350,000, and look for organizations with diverse funding sources. We accept proposals from groups without 501c3 status as long as they have a fiscal sponsor.
For more info about our grantmaking please see the drop downs below:
Chinook funds organizations working to challenge the root causes of oppression, rather than treating the symptoms. Chinook believes the root causes of our most serious social problems include systemic racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism and ageism. We identify effective social change as efforts that strive to include these key elements:
- Constituent-Led: The work is led by the people most impacted by injustice. Unlike a traditional charity model, we believe that those most affected by the issue have the vision and solutions for their own liberation – and that the development of their leadership, skills, and power should be prioritized. (How does the organization demonstrate their work is driven by the people it affects? Does leadership make-up reflect the people most affected by an issue or oppression holding roles where they can shape the strategies and terms of their own liberation? FOR YOUTH ORGANIZING: How is youth voice being incorporated into leadership? Is there a youth advisory board or other decision-making body?)
- Community-Wide: The work reflects all members of the constituency, especially those who experience multiple forms of oppression. This ensures that change for the community leaves no one behind, especially for those who have less privilege within the community. (Does the organization work towards change that will affect all members of a constituency that are exploited, oppressed, or marginalized – taking into account those that face multiple oppressions? Is the organization working to build a multi-racial, multi-class, multi-gendered social justice movement?)
- Lasting Effect: The work makes change not just for one individual today, but for the community as a whole, and for future generations. Generally this means organizing collective action to change systems and institutions. (Will the proposed work help build concrete and lasting political power to address the underlying causes of the problems that it addresses? How does this organization define the root cause of the issue they are working to change?)
For additional information, including definitions and explanation of identities, click here to download a supplemental informational packet.
All successful applicants must:
- Be based in communities facing injustice or oppression, including but not limited to: communities of color, low-income communities, LGBTQ communities, disabilities communities, immigrant communities.
- Have democratic leadership, decision-making and organizing that is led by and accountable to people most directly impacted by the issue or injustice
- Demonstrate that the work can lead to permanent progressive change for their community
- Be engaged in efforts to dismantle privilege and oppression within their organization and community
- Be based in Colorado (with possible exceptions made for regional indigenous groups)
- Have an annual budget of $350,000 or less
Priority is given to organizations that are:
- Engaging in Community Organizing Work (definition in menu below);
- Collaborative or working in alliance with other progressive groups as a way to build multiple strategies for bringing social change;
- Risk-taking by doing work that may be controversial, marginalized, and/or new and emerging;
- Strategic and working with a long-term vision which clearly links to current plans;
- Achieving concrete success which has positively impacted the community;
- Raise money from multiple sources throughout the community, such as foundations, businesses, individuals, special events, and income generating projects.
Chinook Fund supports non-profit organizations, including those that do not have 501(c)3 status. Fiscal sponsorship for those organizations without tax-exempt status is recommended but not required. If a fiscal sponsor is not used, an organizational bank account is required.
To comply with IRS regulations, Chinook Fund cannot:
- Fund organizations involved in electoral campaigns;
- Contribute substantially to support lobbying at the federal, state, or local levels; or
- Support private, in contrast to public, interest.
Chinook Fund defines Community Organizing as:
the process of bringing affected people together to use their collective power to win improvements in their community and change the power structure to advance social justice.
Components and examples of Community Organizing work:
- Led by the people most directly affected by the issues the organization is working on.
- Continually builds leadership from within its own membership, base, or community.
- Works to understand and address the root causes of the issues, not just the symptoms.
- Brings people together to build power they wouldn’t have individually.
- Uses that power to create systemic change, which includes altering unjust power relations.
- Sees itself as a part of a larger movement for social change and works towards strengthening that movement.
- Has clear demands for systems or policy change that are backed by community support.
A note on Cultural Organizing & Healing Justice:
Cultural organizing integrates arts and culture into organizing strategies. It is also about organizing from a particular tradition, cultural identity, community of place, or worldview.
How oppressed communities holistically respond to and intervene on generational trauma and violence, and how they innovate collective practices that can impact and transform the consequences of oppression on their bodies, hearts, and minds.
We convene a group of community activists who have direct experience working for social justice on the ground to lead decision-making around all of our funding. We are constantly working to ensure that our grantmaking committee is representative of the diverse communities, issues, and regions we fund, and we partner with donors/allies who follow the lead of activists. This means that Chinook is led by, and accountable to, the communities we serve – just as we require our grantees to be. And it means our committee is ideally suited to ensure that Chinook targets its resources to the organizations with the most potential and the best track record for making effective social change in Colorado.
Giving Project cohort members review all proposals, conduct site visits, and make funding decisions using a unique consensus-based process. In all its deliberations, the committee is bent towards determining which organizations will transform society into a just and free environment for all people.
Types of Funding
Start-Up Grants are available to groups that are less than 4 years old. Groups must demonstrate a vision and plan for meeting Chinook Fund criteria, but do not need a proven track record of success. Groups can apply multiple times in this category, as long as they are less than 4 years old. The maximum grant award is $4,000.
Established Grants are available to any group, but the competition for grants is tougher, as it includes organizations that have been working successfully on social justice issues for a number of years. The maximum grant award is $10,000.
Multi-Year Grants will be considered for organizations who apply in the Established category, have been funded at least twice during the last 5 years, and who receive the highest level of funding in the current cycle.
Funding Cycles and Proposal Deadlines
Chinook typically awards grants twice a year. Deadlines for proposals are usually in February and September. Grants are dispersed in June and February. Grants must be submitted via our online portal by midnight on the application deadline.
Orientation for New Grantseekers
Are you a new grantseeker or a past grantee that needs a refresher on the grant application process? If your organization or grantwriter is new to Chinook Fund, we strongly recommend attending our Grant Application workshop where we will give an introduction to Chinook Fund, funding criteria and an overview of the new grant application process. While we understand small non-profits are usually very busy, we guarantee that this will save you time, effort and money in the long run. This workshop will help you to determine if you are eligible to apply for a Chinook Fund grant and teach you some basics in writing a successful Chinook Fund application. The workshop is free. Bring a brown bag lunch and join us at our office for a hands-on training.
Workshops are held a month before the grant deadline. If you have any questions about the workshop, to RSVP, or would like to be on the workshop mailing list, please fill out our Workshop Webform below.
How to Apply
Please visit our online grant application portal.
To assist prospective applicants in better understanding our revised Funding Guidelines and Funding Processes, and to make a Grant Application Workshop readily accessible to applicants outside of the Denver Metro Area, we have devised a 3-part Online Grant Application Workshop Series.
- Part One
Explores: the Chinook Fund’s history, values and philosophy; how grantmaking decisions are made; and background.
- Part Two
Examines: the Chinook Fund’s three key funding criteria; additional guidelines; funding categories, multi-year grants, and funding deadlines.
- Part Three
Details: the grant application forms, including the budget form, diversity chart, and final checklist.
Grants must be submitted through our online grant portal – CLICK HERE TO ACCESS.
We’ve created a useful applicant tutorial, please click here to download the pdf.
Upcoming grant deadlines:
Monday, February 21, 2022
Orientation for New Grantseekers
Are you a new grantseeker or a past grantee that needs a refresher on the grant application process? If your organization or grantwriter is new to Chinook Fund, we strongly recommend attending our Grant Application workshop where we will give an introduction to Chinook Fund, funding criteria and an overview of the new grant application process. While we understand small non-profits are usually very busy, we guarantee that this will save you time, effort and money in the long run. This workshop will help you to determine if you are eligible to apply for a Chinook Fund grant and teach you some basics in writing a successful Chinook Fund application. The workshop is free.
Our spring grantmaking workshop has passed, but you can watch the recording of the latest workshop here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSX4ChL5GhU
Have more questions? Feel free to reach out to us!