Racial Equity Fund

For the second year in a row, United Way for Southeastern Michigan is sponsoring the Racial Equity Fund. 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 fund’s objective is to empower Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and people most harmed by systemic oppression. Our efforts seek ensure all people experience authentic inclusion and have equitable access to resources and opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential. 

This year, $1 million is available in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 directly for organizations with BIPOC executive leadership. Last year, 23 organizations were awarded. Learn about the recipients here.

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

Fund Details

  • Flexible, unrestricted and general operating grant amounts range between $10,000 and $50,000. 
  • Organizations must have BIPOC executive leadership. 
  • 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 Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. 
  • The fund seeks to support organizations often excluded from the traditional funding ecosystem. In an effort to increase the diversity of organizations and programs support, past Racial Equity Fund recipients are not eligible to apply. 


  • Leadership   
    • BIPOC leadership development/training   
    • DEI skill building   
  • Lifespan Development   
    • Youth development/after-school programing/youth leadership development   
    • Family services   
    • Education   
    • Food stability/health   
    • Trauma support/mental health and wellbeing   
  • Economics   
    • Programing to support BIPOC owned businesses   
    • Employment / Skilled trade   
    • Financial literacy   
  • 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.  

Donate to support the 2024 Racial Equity Fund cohorts and other equity initiatives


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 is United Way for Southeastern Michigan funding this program?

United Way for Southeastern Michigan is able to fund this program thanks to the generosity of the Mackenzie Scott Fund.

How was the fund and RFP process designed?

The RFP process, language and rubric are being designed by the Racial Equity Fund Workgroup — a group of local community leaders representing diverse communities across Southeastern Michigan. 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 build out 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 is the workgroup tasked with?

The workgroup is 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.

How was the workgroup formed?

Members of the workgroup were chosen through outreach from United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team. They looked to local organizations and community leaders that have close ties with their communities and who prioritize the voice and lived experiences of those they serve.

What organizations are eligible to apply?

Nonprofit organizations with an executive leader that identifies as Black, Indigenous and/or a person of color. Organizations should serve residents in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties in Michigan. Organizations that received funding through the Racial Equity Fund before are not eligible to apply.

What is the range of potential funding support?

$10,000 – $75,000

What type of program measurement and/or evaluation is required for this grant?

Organizations will need to report twice during the funding term; once at the mid-point and again at the end. Organizations will have the opportunity to design their own program success measurements.

How will the proposals be evaluated?

A review committee made of internal UWSEM staff and external community members will be selected to review and score all proposals and evaluate each organization according to the requirements and terms and conditions identified throughout the RFP.

When will the awardees receive notifications of awards?

The award letters are tentatively scheduled to be sent the week of Dec 5. United Way for Southeastern Michigan reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to make modifications to the selection timeline as needed and in the best interest of the process.