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 in our efforts 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 will disburse at least $500,000 in flexible grants to local organizations. Those eligible for the flexible grants must have an executive leader who is Black, Indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC) and a mission and vision dedicated to racial equity.

The request for proposals (RFP) process begins around Nov. 1, with funded partners notified on Dec. 7. Funded initiatives must be directed toward addressing racial inequities in the community.

The RFP process is informed by best practices catalogued in the Centering Community Voice Blueprint. This document was built in partnership with Detroit Future City and prioritizes the lived experience of the community in every element of the decision-making process.

Phase 1: Pre-RFP / Racial Equity Fund Workgroup

A diverse and inclusive group of community members will co-create the Racial Equity Fund grant process, including the RFP language, funding priorities and rubric. The workgroup will set funding priorities for the Racial Equity Fund centered on the lived experience of community members; determine RFP evaluation metrics and reporting guidelines; and develop a process to ensure a diverse applicant pool, including outreach to under-resourced and/or unfamiliar organizations.

FAQs

What is the Racial Equity Fund?

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The Racial Equity Fund will provide financial support and technical assistance to BIPOC-led organizations through flexible grants. The fund is designed to empower organizations to provide programs and projects that work toward eliminating racial disparities in pursuit of a more equitable and just community for all.

How is United Way for Southeastern Michigan funding this program?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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 is the timeline for application, selection and distribution of funds?

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• RFP opens: Approximately Nov. 1
• RFP closes: Approximately Nov. 15
• Application review period: Nov. 15-22
• Racial Equity Fund Workgroup finalizes recommendations: Nov. 22
• United Way leadership approval: Nov. 22 – Dec. 6
• Funded partners notified; contract processing begins: Approximately Dec. 7

What organizations are eligible to apply for funding?

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Organizations with executive leadership that identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of color and a mission and vision committed to racial equity.

What is the range of potential funding support?

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The range of the flexible grants will be determined by the Racial Equity Workgroup and will be released on or before Nov. 1.

What are the funding areas?

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The overarching priorities of the Racial Equity Fund involve funding BIPOC-led organizations to support building out local programs and initiatives in the pursuit of racial equity and justice. The specific funding priorities will be identified by the Racial Equity Fund Workgroup through September and October and published no later than Nov. 1.

When can I apply?

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The application will be available on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

How can my organization submit an application?

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Organizations interested in applying for the Racial Equity Fund may access the application directly from this page beginning on Nov. 1.

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

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Organizations that receive funding must track and report demographic and outcomes data at minimum. Other reporting requirements will be determined by the Racial Equity Fund Workgroup and will be listed here on or before Nov. 1.

How will the proposals be evaluated?

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A review committee will be selected using criteria established from the Racial Equity Fund Workgroup. This review committee will 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?

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The award letters are tentatively scheduled to be sent on Dec. 7. 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.