By Kendra Garrett, Ana Martin and Patti Hixon
It’s been said that an individual can make a difference, but together we can create change. This has been evident in our work leading the grants committees for The Black Fund, Hispanic Impact Fund, and Women’s Fund at Austin Community Foundation. Together, we’ve made a palpable difference in our community by awarding a combined $1.5 million in unrestricted, general operating support to 53 outstanding local nonprofit organizations. All are dedicated to advancing the economic mobility of Central Texans—ensuring we are not just surviving, but thriving.
In previous years, the Foundation’s three strategic programs—The Black Fund, Hispanic Impact Fund, and Women’s Fund—conducted separate grant cycles. Through the exchange of mutual experiences and informal collaboration, coupled with invaluable community feedback, a decision was made to innovate the grantmaking process in 2023. For the first time, nonprofits could easily seek funding from all three programs using a single grant application. This approach not only streamlined the overall process, but enhanced the visibility of each program.
The Black Fund, Hispanic Impact Fund, and Women’s Fund have been steadfast in their commitment to closing the racial and gender wealth gap, while creating opportunities for economic mobility and wealth-building within their respective demographics. Leveraging corporate and individual philanthropy, these programs target strategic impact areas identified through data-informed research and the voices of community members sharing lived experiences.
Over an intensive four-month period in 2023, our dedicated Grants Committees, comprising both investors and community members, diligently reviewed an impressive 255 proposals—the Foundation’s largest applicant pool to date. All reviewers underwent unconscious bias training prior to the review process, hosted and attended many learning sessions, collectively determined funding amounts, and met with each organization that advanced as a finalist.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the 177 reviewers who volunteered across all three programs and played a crucial role in this process. Together, we recognized the organizations whose efforts resonate with each fund’s strategic impact areas. You can explore these impact areas and find the complete list of our 2023 grant partners here.
The joint impact driven by our 2023 grantmaking cycle is truly remarkable:
- 62% of Executive staff and Board identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)
- 56% of CEOs identify as BIPOC (The Black Fund – 100%, Hispanic Impact Fund – 56%, and Women’s Fund – 40%)
- 30% were first-time applicants and 38% applied to multiple funds.
GRANT REVIEWER FEEDBACK
- 100% of reviewers learned about a new organization they had never heard of previously
- 90% of reviewers would recommend the grants cycle as a volunteer opportunity
- 87% of reviewers are likely to participate in a future grants cycle.
Commitment to an equitable and transparent grantmaking process continues to be at the forefront of our work. We invite you to be a part of this community-led opportunity in our next grants cycle! Stay up to date by following ACF on social media and signing up for the Foundation’s email newsletter. For questions on how to get involved with the 2024 grants cycle, you can reach the Community Impact team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kendra Garrett, Ana Martin and Patti Hixon served as the 2023 Grants Committee Chairs for The Black Fund, Hispanic Impact Fund and Women’s Fund, respectively.