Racial Equity Fund: 2024


The Racial Equity Fund will provide financial support and technical assistance to BIPOC-led organizations through operational unrestricted grants. The fund is designed to empower BIPOC-led organizations to provide programs and projects that work toward eliminating racial disparities in pursuit of more equitable and just communities across Southeastern Michigan.

Created by a diverse and inclusive workgroup of community members over the course of two months in the Summer of 2021, this fund seeks to prioritize the lived experience of our communities. The workgroup’s scope was informed by the Centering Community Voice Blueprint.

The fund’s objective is to empower Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and people most harmed by systemic oppression. Our efforts seek to ensure all people experience authentic inclusion and have equitable access to resources and opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential.

This winter, $200,000 is available in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 directly for organizations with BIPOC executive leadership. Over the last two years, 49 organizations were awarded.

Learn more about the 2023 and 2022 recipients here.

If you have any questions about the fund, please email Ray Stoeser at RacialEquityFund@UnitedWaySEM.org.

Fund Details and Eligibility

  • Flexible, unrestricted and general operating grant amounts range between $10,000 and $50,000.
  • Organizations must have BIPOC executive leadership.
    • BIPOC Executive Leadership is defined as: United Way for Southeastern Michigan takes a comprehensive approach to assess the identities of who holds decision-making power when determining whether an organization or group is BIPOC-led. This means that we not only collect information on the identities of the organization leader, but also assess: 1. the extent to which key staff, who hold decision-making power, identify as BIPOC, and 2. the extent to which the board of directors/advisory council, who also hold decision-making power, identify as BIPOC. If you have questions as to how this definition might apply to your organization, please reach out to Ray Stoeser at RacialEquityFund@UnitedWaySEM.org.
  • Organizations should propose programming for funding that responds to and mitigates the effects of racial inequities and/or builds power and infrastructure in communities of color across Washtenaw County.
  • Organizations must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit. An organization must be in good standing with the State of Michigan and the Internal Revenue Service and will be required to upload a copy of their IRS designation letter, 990 form, W-9, and financial statements. For organizations that are not 501(c)3, they may apply via a fiduciary if applicable.
  • The fund seeks to support organizations often excluded from the traditional funding ecosystem. To increase the diversity of organizations and programs supported, organizations that are currently funded by United Way for Southeastern Michigan, United Way of Washtenaw County, and/or a previous Racial Equity Fund recipient are not eligible to apply.


Jan. 3: Application Opens
1-2 p.m. Jan. 9: Applicant Webinar 1 (join here) 
5 p.m. Jan.18: Grant Closes
Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2024: Effective Grant Dates

  • Since funding determinations will not be announced until early March, organizations will be able to retroactively charge eligible expenditures back to the start of the grant period.

Basic Needs, Health and/or Crisis

  • Living Wage
  • Food Security
  • Housing
  • Racial Health Disparities
  • Mass Incarceration

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    • Rest, rejuvenation and healing for nonprofit leaders and staff
    • DEI Skill-Building

Economic Mobility

  • Programing to support BIPOC-owned businesses
  • Employment / Skilled Trade

Environmental Justice

  • Climate Change
  • Pollution
  • Clean Water, Food and Air

Open Category
The Racial Equity Fund is open to funding organizations or programs working in pursuit of racial equity in emerging or undefined spaces. If your program does not fall neatly into the above priority areas, that doesn’t mean it isn’t meeting a critical need. Please elaborate when prompted in the application.

Related Materials

Grant Info Sheet
Application Questions
Webinar Recording
Slide Deck


United Way for Southeastern Michigan accepts grant applications through our grants management system, SurveyMonkey Apply. Organizations must register as a user of the system prior to applying for these grant opportunities.

For more information about navigating Survey Monkey Apply, use the resources and links listed below to assist you as you explore current and future grant opportunities.

If you are new to Survey Monkey Apply and wish to apply for grants with United Way, please follow the steps below using the links and resources provided.

  1. Click here to register your organization.
  2. Using your new login, you must pre-register for grant opportunities by completing the Organization + Financial Information application. This and other opportunities can also be found under “Programs” at the top of your welcome screen.

If you require additional assistance with SurveyMonkey Apply, please email: sma@UnitedWaySEM.org.


What is the Racial Equity Fund?

The Racial Equity Fund endeavors to provide financial support in the form of flexible, unrestricted and general operating grants with the intention of prioritizing funding solutions by leaders who are in close proximity to the opportunity/need the organization is trying to address. 

The Racial Equity Fund sees value in funding a variety of organizations—from smaller, community-based, grassroots organizations; to medium-sized organizations focused on institutional change; to larger organizations with resources to focus on systemic and structural change, and particularly those excluded from the traditional funding ecosystem. Funding can be used as seed funding to support organization growth and scale to design new, creative ideas and/or to promote or expand existing racial justice and equity work.

How was the fund and RFP process developed?

The RFP process, language and rubric were designed by the Racial Equity Fund Workgroup — a group of local community leaders representing diverse communities across Southeastern Michigan including Washtenaw County. The workgroup is responsible for incorporating lived experiences at all levels of the grantmaking process. The process is anchored in support by the Centering Community Voices Blueprint . The framework describes the need for centering community voices and highlights opportunities throughout the grant cycle for incorporating lived experiences of the communities served.

Why convene a workgroup to lead the grantmaking process?

Doing so is an important and effective way to support system changes and shift power dynamics. This will ultimately move individuals in underserved communities closer to having their basic needs met long-term and to reducing existing inequities.

What was the workgroup tasked with?

The workgroup was responsible for:
• Co-creating the Racial Equity Fund grant process.
• Setting funding priorities for the Racial Equity Fund centered on the lived experiences of community members.
• Determining RFP evaluation metrics and reporting guidelines.
• Developing a process to ensure a diverse applicant pool, including outreach to under-resourced and/or unfamiliar organizations.
• Drafting the RFP language.

What is the spending period of this grant?

Jan. 1, 2024 through Dec. 31, 2024. Since funding determinations will not be announced until early March, organizations will be able to retroactively charge eligible expenditures back to the start of the grant period.

Can an organization apply for both the Racial Equity Fund grant and Washtenaw Basic Needs grant?

Any eligible organization may apply for both opportunities as applicable. However, both are open, competitive processes and submission of an application does not guarantee funding. We will consider the availability of funds against the full spectrum of competitive applications received for each funding opportunity. To view all open grant opportunities, visit our proposal opportunities page.

Can organizations that are not based in Washtenaw County, but serve Washtenaw residents apply?

No. Organizations must be based (have a physical presence) in Washtenaw County AND serve Washtenaw County residents.

Through United Way of Washtenaw County, I was previously able to phone in my application. Can I still do that?

Unfortunately, for this opportunity that option is not available. All applications must be submitted through United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s grant management system, SurveyMonkey Apply . For questions or support related to accessing SurveyMonkey Apply (SMA), please contact the Community Investments team at SMA@UnitedWaySEM.org.

Metrics and Reporting

Is there a minimum number of clients needed to apply?

There is no minimum expectation of a certain number of clients served. In general, we value quality over quantity and are trying to get a picture of scope and scale of the services that each applicant provides under the application domain(s).

Do all clients served by partners need to be considered ALICE?

No. We will not put restrictions on the use of funds in this way. We do want to understand how effective we are at reaching those below the ALICE threshold, including those below the federal poverty level and those that do not have incomes high enough to cover their basic needs.

Within the application, you will be asked to provide estimations/projections that will help us understand this, including demographic information and reach across the identified municipalities that have large concentrations of ALICE.

Can funding be used for other families/clients that fall below federal poverty level but are not living in the cities identified?

Yes. We will not put restrictions on the use of funds in this way. We do want to track how effective we are at reaching ALICE populations in the municipalities that we have listed and serving populations in the ALICE municipalities that we have listed is an important part of our funding criteria.

What sort of reporting will recipients of the grant be expected to provide?

Organizations will be required to submit a mid contract report in July and a final contract report in December.

When will grant funds be dispersed?

75% of grant funds will be dispersed within 2-weeks of a fully executed contract. Since funding determinations will not be announced until early March, organizations will be able to retroactively charge eligible expenditures back to the start of the grant period. The remaining 25% will be released in July after successful submission of a mid-contract report.