Racial Equity Fund

At United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we are committed to deconstructing systemic racism and institutional bias while promoting diversity, equity and inclusion as core values in every aspect of our work. Our objective is to empower Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and people most harmed by systemic oppression as we center their lived experiences. Our efforts are to help all people experience authentic inclusion and have equitable access to resources and opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential.

As part of those efforts, United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team is sponsoring the Racial Equity Fund, which endeavors to provide financial support in the form of flexible, unrestricted and general operating grants. Grant amounts range between $10,000 and $75,000 directly for organizations with BIPOC executive leadership.

The fund was designed by a diverse and inclusive group of community members over the course of two months this summer and fall. The workgroup’s scope was informed by the Centering Community Voice Blueprint. From setting the funding priorities to the reporting guidelines to outreach to under-resourced and/or unfamiliar organizations, this workgroup made sure to prioritize the lived experience of the community when building out the details of the fund.

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 $75,000.
  • 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 Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. 
  • Programs can meet this opportunity by addressing the following funding priority areas:  
    • 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.  


Due to the robust number of applicants, we will be postponing our announcement so that we may do a thorough review of each and every applicant. We apologize for the delay but can assure you that all applicants will receive notification of their determination status prior to Jan. 14.

Nov. 30: Application closed
Dec. 6 – Jan. 14: Application review and approval
Approximately Jan. 14: Recipients announced & contract processing begins

Scoring rubric

Click here to learn more.


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. An initial funding seed of $500,000 has been allocated.

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 Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties in Michigan.

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 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 on Jan. 14. 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.