(ACTIVE) Racial Equity Growth Fund – Social Innovation Grant

Categories: Equity


The purpose of this grant is to provide up to $100,000 to support social innovation proposals by BIPOC-led organizations.

Who we are

Rochester Area Community Foundation (the Community Foundation), in partnership with generous philanthropists and community partners, works to improve the quality of life for people who live and work in the eight-county region through its leadership and strategic grantmaking.

Our Mission: We empower donors and community partners to strengthen our region through philanthropy. Our Vision: We lead boldly to realize a more equitable, inclusive and vital region. We work to realize that vision by: Encouraging generosity and civic unity; Addressing urgent and persistent challenges; Engaging donors, nonprofits and other advocates; Escalating strategic responses and resources; Elevating broad community voice, and; Inspiring positive, enduring community change.

Known as the steward of charitable funds and endowments, the Community Foundation connects donors with current and evolving needs. As a leading grantmaker, the Foundation is focused on two broad goals: Creating an equitable community and strengthening our region’s vitality.

The Community Foundation is committed to redoubling efforts focused on its racial equity work and grants to the community. This past year brought to light the stark inequities many of us always knew existed. However, like many organizations, we are working alongside our community to be part of the change we wish to see.

What we seek to do

Voting rights activist Desmond Meade informed us during a Community Foundation-sponsored webinar that we need to give people in the community the money, and trust that they know what to do with it. Through its Racial Equity Growth Fund, the Community Foundation is seeking to listen and learn from those in our Rochester community who have creative ideas of how to begin to solve issues dealing with racial equity, education, and poverty — that specifically affect households led by Black and Brown single, females. We believe that the voices of residents with lived-experience are just as valuable, if not more, than those with professional expertise. This grant will allow these two often disparate groups to come together and have a positive impact on our community.


Social innovations aim to address community needs in a way that veers from typical, existing solutions, that largely have been designed out of systemic injustice. Ideas are created with the goal of expanding opportunities and strengthening communities. The Community Foundation has prioritized supporting our community and its organizations in the areas of racial equity, education, and poverty. We continue to strive to make significant and sustainable reductions in academic achievement gaps as well as creating public awareness and understanding of the concentration of poverty and how it affects everyone. The Foundation also has redoubled its commitment to alleviating racial and ethnic inequities and encouraging sustained, community-based collaborative initiatives that lead to a more equitable Rochester for all.

ACT Rochester’s latest report, Hard Facts 2020, provides a deeper knowledge of key inequities for Blacks and Latinos compared to Whites in our communities. This report also allows residents to envision how the entire community can thrive, and developing innovative ideas is one way that vision can be realized.

The Foundation is seeking social innovation proposals focused on making positive and meaningful change in Rochester. The grants will support initiatives that bring residents and communities together with a singular mission of solving issues that align with the Community Foundation’s goal of creating an equitable community by closing academic achievement gaps, fostering racial understanding and equity, and partnering against poverty. Proposals may represent a component of a longer-term plan or grants may also be awarded for a small but significant enhancement.

Typical Grant Size

Up to $100,000.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Recognizing that Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) people are a relatively recent phenomena in Rochester who have endured historic underinvestment, the fund will ONLY support innovative ideas from BIPOC-led nonprofits and community groups
  • Proposals for grants will align with the Community Foundation’s action areas of racial equity, poverty, and education
  • This is a highly competitive grant opportunity, collaborating with at least one other organization (501c3, grassroots, community-led, religious affiliation, etc.) is recommended
  • Projects should focus on the city of Rochester, but can extend throughout Monroe County

Application Due Date(s)

The deadline to submit an application for Racial Equity Growth Fund – Social Innovation Grant Request is May 15, 2021 at noon.


Please use the Racial Equity Growth Fund application for this grant that can be found on our grant portal.


Maya Crane
Program Officer, Equity
Rochester Area Community Foundation
500 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607-1912

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