What We Fund

Social Justice Fund NW funds organizations led by people who are most directly affected by the problems that the organization or project is addressing. Organizations receiving SJF support use a community organizing approach, as defined in our Grant Guidelines. SJF funds organizations that carry out most of their work in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and/or Wyoming.

What are distinctive features of SJF's grantmaking philosophy and practice?
  • Funding decisions are made through a democratic process by engaged, educated volunteer grantmakers.  
  • Funding is limited to community-based groups, led by those most directly affected by the issues that the organization addresses, which engage in community organizing around social justice issues.
  • The majority of our grants are for general operating funds, which provide grantees with the greatest degree of flexibility, and self-determination.
  • Special consideration is given to groups committed to racial justice, especially those based in communities of color. This reflects an organizational commitment to combat racism by building political power in communities of color. Among organizations with primarily white constituencies, our grantmaking process prioritizes those that actively participate as white allies in racial justice struggles.
  • We aim to distribute funds broadly throughout the region. While most community organizing funding criteria advantages urban organizations, we give special consideration to rural groups. This ensures the most even distribution of funds possible within our strategic priorities.
  • Grants decisions are values based. We make grants to groups that share our values.
Why prioritize community organizing?

We prioritize those organizations whose primary work is building grassroots power by organizing people on the downside of power to act collectively, exercising power in numbers. We recognize that there are many other ways of making change happen and achieving important social justice victories. However, we prioritize community organizing because we believe that lasting change comes from the bottom-up, affecting not just the political and economic system but the culture of communities. We also believe that community organizing involves the most people, allowing for the greatest diversity and numbers of perspectives to be expressed. Community organizing is the exercise of democracy in action. All grantees must demonstrate that they are community-based and led by the people most directly affected by the issues the organization is working on. “Leadership” is defined by membership on the board of directors or its equivalent in terms of policy-setting, governance, and other meaningful decision-making for the organization. Community-based organizations:

  • empower those who have been left out of decision-making processes affecting their own lives,
  • are democratically organized and responsive to their community’s needs,
  • involve the affected community in shaping issue priorities and helping to sustain the organization, and
  • develop and renew their own leadership from the community being organized.

We give the highest priority to organizations representing communities who have suffered from a historical pattern of discrimination resulting in impoverishment, vulnerability to abuse and economic exploitation, continuing social prejudice, and/or outright disenfranchisement. We prioritize these groups because addressing their extreme vulnerability to injustice demands the most broad-reaching reforms with the most far-reaching political, economic, and social impacts.

Social Justice Fund gives particularly priority to organizations led by people of color, reflecting our members’ moral and strategic commitment to racial justice. We believe that racism is among the most potent and divisive forces in society; it stands in the way of the broad unity necessary to build powerful and effective movements for progressive change.

How does SJF's grantmaking build a progressive vision of change?

We believe that justice requires the elimination of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, economic status, religion, disability, age, or any other arbitrary prejudice that tends to create or perpetuate imbalances of power. We are against militarism and colonialism, and stand opposed to business and government practices that exploit workers, undermine cultural diversity and freedom of expression, damage the environment, limit the self-determination of people and the sovereignty of nations, and restrict fair and equitable access to the resources necessary to live full and meaningful lives.

We believe that basic needs such as health care, nutritious food, adequate shelter, meaningful education, full employment and equal employment opportunity, reproductive self-determination, and personal security are fundamental to living a full and meaningful life, and that the opportunity to live fully is a right rather than a privilege. The fair distribution of the resources necessary to insure these rights requires the full and equitable participation of everyone in democratic decision-making.

Social Justice Fund NW provides grants to groups that share our vision and use culturally competent, bottom-up educational strategies for popularizing and expanding this vision as an integral part of their organizing practice.

How does SJF's grantmaking invest on the cutting edge of change?

In addition to the philosophical considerations, our funding priorities reflect practical concerns. Community organizing is not generally supported by mainstream philanthropy. Even progressive funders often avoid funding grassroots groups because they either lack the capacity to make and monitor many small grants, or they are unwilling to face the risks involved in funding relatively fragile organizations.

With a membership spread out over the five states we fund, Social Justice Fund is able to make and monitor many small grants. Our members also recognize that the benefits of this strategy far outweigh the risks. Grassroots groups facilitate participation by those who are the most affected by injustice, but who are the most likely to be excluded from efforts to seek out solutions.

We believe that those who stand to gain the most from justice enrich the dialogue, bring new perspectives, and are more likely to introduce creative and effective solutions.

We don’t believe this is the only work involved in building a progressive movement. But we do believe it is the work most lacking in broad support and most needing visionary, progressive philanthropy on its side to survive and thrive.

How We Fund

Social Justice Fund NW has two main grantmaking programs, both supporting community organizing in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

Most of our grants (between $700,000 to $1 million per year) are made through Giving Projects. The Giving Project model organizes volunteer community members from all backgrounds to receive, review and decide grants as well as raise money for the project’s pool of grantees. All grant cycles are funded and decided by the members of Giving Projects who use SJF’s granting criteria to guide their decision making process. Giving Projects typically make grants of about  $10,000/year for one or two years.

We also grant about $30,000 a year through Rapid Response and Seed Grants. These small grants (up to $2,000) are decided on a monthly, rolling timeline, by a volunteer committee made up of grantee representatives and Giving Project alumni from around our region.

Grant Opportunities:   Giving Project Grants    Rapid Response / Seed Grants

How to Apply

Before you begin your application, first please read the FAQ on the application process below. You will need to review the grant guidelines and the budget, funding sources and organizational diversity templates as well. Review the 2018 Grant and Application Deadlines here.

How do I get started with a grant application?

Read the 2018 Grant Guidelines (this includes information about what we fund, how we make decisions, and our timelines for the year). Review these templates: Budget, Funding Sources and Organizational Diversity Chart.

If you have not received a Social Justice Fund grant before, please fill out this brief pre-application questionnaire before you begin your application.

Note: SJF welcomes applications from people with all levels of English fluency and formal education; therefore, grammatical and spelling errors will not negatively impact scores.

Proposals must be in our office no later than 5:00 pm (Pacific Time) on the date of the deadline. Social Justice Fund will not consider late applications. This is not a postmark deadline.

If you have any questions, please contact Program Director, Yasmeen Perez at Yasmeen@socialjusticefund.org or (206) 624-4081 x103.

How to apply for a grant
  1.     Read the Social Justice Fund Grant Guidelines and Grant Instructions. This provides information about our grantmaking process, criteria, and timelines, and includes some new policies and changes.
  2. If you have not received a Social Justice Fund grant before, please fill out this brief pre-application questionnaire before you begin your application.
  3.     Optional: Read the SJF Granting Criteria (used by our volunteer grantmakers to help guide their screening process). Read through those materials carefully and then if you have any questions about these grant criteria, please do not hesitate to contact us.
  4.     Log in to our Online Grant Portal. (If you have never used it before, you will need to register your organization first. Note: You can only register one email per organization. To change the e-mail address associated with your account, please contact techsupport@socialjusticefund.org.)  
  5.     Select the appropriate grant cycle and begin your application. You can apply for multiple grants per year, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria for each grant.
  6.     If you have applied through this online portal before, you will be able to log into your previous application and make changes to it for a new grant cycle, or you can click “copy/rollover an application” to revise a previous draft.
  7.     Late applications will not be accepted. Applications may be submitted online (preferred) or by email,  postal mail, or hand delivery.
  8.     Please note – grant awards are usually around $10,000/year (exact amounts vary depending on the total raised by the Giving Project that is funding the grant cycle). We are no longer enforcing an annual funding cap.
  9.     If you have trouble with the online portal, contact techsupport@socialjusticefund.org.
  10. If you have any questions about the grant application process, contact grants@socialjusticefund.org or (206) 624-4081.


What materials would I need for my application?

Please be prepared to provide the following information during the application process:

A brief description of your organization’s:

  •   Mission, history, and major accomplishments
  •   Leadership and community organizing strategies
  •   Program/project description and workplan
  •   Collaborations
  •   Work for racial justice

Note: Your entire application (narrative and all attachments) will be shared with all Giving Project members — volunteers from the community who will read and decide on the applications for this grant cycle. In addition, if SJF makes a grant to your organization, your narrative or portions thereof might be shared with the general public to illustrate the type of work we fund. If we share any portion of your narrative, we will always give credit to your organization.

Additionally, you will be asked to provide the following documents:

Financial Documents:

  •   Annual Statement: This is the statement of actual income and expenses for the most recent completed fiscal year. Upload in your own format, but do not send your annual report, tax returns, or entire audited financial statement
  •   Balance Sheet: This is a snapshot of your financial status at the moment: a brief, current statement of your assets, liabilities, and cash on hand. Upload in your own format.
  •   Annual Operating Budget: This is a projection of all known and estimated income and expenses for the current fiscal year. You may upload in your own format or use our Budget template.
  •   Project Budget: This is required only if you are requesting project-specific funds. Otherwise, it is optional. You may upload in your own format or use our Budget template.
  •   NOTE: If submitting budgets in your own format, please include a breakdown of income which includes, at minimum, the following categories:

 Membership income (if any)

 Individual contributions (may include fundraising events; if so, please indicate)


List of Funding Sources (see Funding Sources template).

Include all funding sources, whether or not they will be directed to the work described in this proposal.

List a funding source as “pending” if you have submitted an application, but it has not been accepted or denied.

Do not neglect the final two columns of this form. Indicate whether or not the listed funding source will support general operating funds and/or the same work described in this proposal.

Organizational Diversity Chart (see Organizational Diversity template).

Please fill out this form to the best of your ability. Note that “Leadership Body” refers to the group of people who together make strategic decisions about the organization’s direction, provide oversight and guidance, and are ultimately responsible for the organization’s mission and ability to carry out its mission. In most cases, this will be a Board of Directors, but it might also be a steering committee, collective, or other leadership structure.

Do not neglect section 4 of this form, regarding the specific diversity categories that are important to your organization. For example, if your organization works with day laborers, include day laborers as a diversity category. If refugees are an important part of your constituency, include refugees as a diversity category. Don’t just list the category; be sure to fill in the numbers for each.

If your Year-End Report (for any prior grant from Social Justice Fund) is past due, please email it prior to submitting your proposal. You will not be considered for a new grant if you have not fulfilled all prior reporting requirements.

Fiscal Letter

If you are a 501c3 or 501c4 organization, please submit your IRS status letter.

If you are using a fiscal sponsor, please provide a letter from the sponsor stating that it agrees to act as your fiscal sponsor and supports Social Justice Fund’s mission. Your fiscal sponsor does not need to submit any financial or other documents.

If you are an organization but not a 501c3 or 501c4 or fiscally sponsored, please speak with an SJF staff member before applying. Social Justice Fund NW is able to make a limited number of grants to organizations that do not have 501c3/501c4 status. However such grants are awarded via a slightly different process, which you must review with us before applying. When you apply, submit Attachment A with your application.

2018 Grants & Application Deadlines

All Giving Project grants are for general operating funds. Applicants for all grants must meet our basic eligibility criteria, at page 3-4 of our 2018 Grant Guidelines.

Here’s how to apply.

Criminal Justice Grant

(Deadline has passed)

Coalitions & Alliances Grant

(Deadline has passed)

Environmental Justice Grant

  • (Deadline: August 23rd, 2018 5:00pm PST) — Two-year grant of $10,000 per year. The Environmental Justice grant will support organizing work that aims to achieve equitable access to a clean and healthy environment for frontline communities most impacted by environmental racism, climate change, and environmental injustice, especially the spaces where communities live, work, learn, play, pray, and heal. This grant will fund rural and urban organizations working at the intersection of environmental, racial, and economic justice to create sustainable, self-determined and just communities. Environmental justice work can include, but is not limited to, access to clean and healthy food, water and air; affordable and healthy housing, addressing neighborhood blight, just transition and climate resilience work, etc.
  • For more information, please contact Project Manager: Magan Do

Gender Justice

  • Deadline: September 6, 2018 at 5:00pm PST) — Two-year grant of $10,000/per year. This grant will focus on community organizing at the intersection of gender, race, and sexuality, which works for a world where all people — especially women, girls, transgender and gender non-conforming people — are able to identify and express their gender and sexual orientation without fear, discrimination or harm, and have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions for themselves, their families and their communities in all areas of their lives. For more information, please contact Project Manager: Melody Martinez

Black Led Organizing Grant

  • (Deadline: September 13th, 2018 at 5:00pm PST)  Two-year grant of $10,000/per year. This grant will support community organizing led by and for Black communities and communities of African descent who are working to end anti-Black racism and discrimination, support and invest in Black leadership, and sustain movements for Black liberation to achieve a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. This grant will therefore fund and help sustain the momentum of groups who are organizing to build power for Black communities and improve the quality of Black life in the Northwest. To be eligible groups must meet all other SJF eligibility criteria, have at least 51% Black leadership on their Board, steering committee, or other leadership body and must be explicitly working to effect systemic change. For more information, please contact Project Manager: Karen Toering

Rapid Response Grants 

Rapid Response & Seed Grants are awarded monthly, February through November. The application deadline is rolling but we encourage you to turn in your application by the 1st of the month. The grantmaking committee meets on the 15th of each month to review all applications received by the 1st of that month and award grants. You will be notified within 4-6 weeks from when you apply. These grants have different criteria; please click on each to learn more.

  • (Rolling deadline, open Feb-Nov 2018) – The Rapid Response Grant provides fast, small grants of $2,000 to help local communities respond and act quickly to emergency and urgent situations connected to the changing political climate with actions and/or strategies that could not have been anticipated. For more information please contact Grant Manager, Magan Do.

Seed Grants 

  • (Rolling deadline, open Feb-Nov 2018) – Seed Grants are small grants of $2,000 to support new and emerging groups (we define as 3 years old or younger) that are developing their community organizing work but might not yet meet all the qualifications for SJF’s standard grants. For more information please contact Grant Manager, Magan Do.

Grant Directory

Use this searchable directory to see which organizations SJF has funded and in what regions. You can also find contact information for the organizations here.