New Flexible Operating Grants for BIPOC-led Organizations

October 14, 2020

Vancouver Foundation is launching the LEVEL BIPOC Grants that will offer flexible, general operating grants of $50,000 to BIPOC-led organizations. These grants are to invest in BIPOC leaders in the charitable sector to be able to pursue the hopes and aspirations they have for building a more just world.

For the past two years, we’ve been offering LEVEL Youth Grants to support organizations in creating pathways to staff and board leadership roles for young Indigenous and racialized migrant leaders. But BIPOC-led organizations experience additional barriers to accessing and securing funding and what we have heard over the last two years is that to support their work in racial justice, core funding is critical.

At the end of 2019, we began to reflect on this feedback from our advisors, grantees, and applicants to explore how we can offer flexible funding through new and creative ways of grantmaking that are more equitable and better centre relationships.

While this is our first cycle of BIPOC Grants, it won’t be our last. We’ll continue to offer these grants but what will change is how we continue to tweak and refine the granting process to ensure it’s equitable and brings more BIPOC voices to the forefront. In the meantime, LEVEL will continue to support, engage, and work alongside Indigenous and racialized migrant youth.

Relational Grantmaking: Prototyping New Approaches

As part of our commitment to draw on different worldviews and ways of knowing and being, we’re weaving in oral tradition and storytelling in how organizations can apply.

Instead of an application form and a budget submission, we’ll invite applicants who align with the priorities of this grant stream to have a recorded one-hour conversation with staff and 1-2 advisors. The conversation will be about the organization and its leadership, and how a grant would contribute to pursuing their hopes and dreams for effecting change. We hope this would allow for meaningful dialogue and a richer understanding of the organization’s aspirations, needs and priorities. And since advisors play such an essential role in our grantmaking, having them present will allow for more transparency and an opportunity to build stronger relationships with grantees.

We will not require final reports by grantees. Instead, we’ll invite them to come together for opportunities for collective learning and reflection. We hope this would strengthen community relationships amongst grantees by sharing learnings, challenges, and resources. This would also help us learn how we can strengthen the levers of racial equity and justice in our granting.

The application process for the LEVEL BIPOC Grants opens on October 21. We’re also hosting an online information session on October 21 at 11:00 AM PT, which you can sign up for here if you’d like to reserve your spot (a recording will be available afterward).

Stay tuned for more granting updates. To support LEVEL BIPOC Grants and Vancouver Foundation’s ongoing work around racial justice, please consider making a donation to our new Justice and Equity Fund

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