Power: Nurturing Equity Movements Grant Guidelines

Achieving greater racial and economic equity requires an inclusive democracy in which all Bay Area residents have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families.  The San Francisco Foundation builds on a long history of nurturing equity movements. For decades, we have played an important role in leadership development and movement building more broadly, including making grants for community organizing, helping to start and sustain community organizations, and supporting grassroots leadership development. We have done this work in partnership with community leaders and advocates, other philanthropic organizations, and our donors. Throughout our region, grassroots social movements — and the diverse leaders that direct them — are driving important advances today in racial and economic equity.

To effectively nurture these movements and build community and civic leadership, The San Francisco Foundation seeks to build community power to ensure a strong political and community voice for all through supporting effective organizations and coalitions that grow the power of low-income residents, people of color, youth, and immigrants.

For more information about the Power pathway: Nurturing Equity Movements.


In the Power pathway, The San Francisco Foundation will support efforts in the open grant cycle launching in January 2017 that help achieve the following goal through the described priority strategies:


Build community power to ensure a strong political and community voice for all.


  1. Build Community Power and Voice. Support and strengthen the capacity of local organizing and faith-based groups that are member/constituent-led and build the power and voice of their base;
  2. Strengthen Coalitions. Support efforts that build the ecosystem of community organizing and movement building in communities across the region;
  3. Grow the Organizing Field. Support new organizing efforts that address population and geographic gaps in the region; and


1. Building Community Power and Voice

The heart of the Power pathway is community organizing. Organizing engages diverse community members, such as neighborhood residents, congregants, and low-wage workers, in defining their collective self-interests, holding decision-makers accountable and creating organizations that advance their shared goals. Through their efforts to promote a more just and equitable society, community members increase their individual and collective voice, power, and influence and grow as leaders in the process. Organizing provides low-income people of color, the Bay Area residents who are most impacted by racial and economic inequities, the opportunity to lead and drive change. Some of the most powerful organizing tools, including the integration of arts and culture and the use of technology, can accelerate the formation and impact of equity movements.

Priority will be given to applicants that:

  • Align with the foundation’s racial and economic equity agenda (e.g. organizing efforts related to affordable housing, anti-displacement, access to good jobs and transit, criminal justice reform, education equity, or immigrant rights);
  • Have a membership or constituent base that is predominantly low-income people or communities of color in one or more of the five Bay Area counties served by the Foundation;
  • Demonstrate capacity to strengthen and expand the leadership of impacted community residents to participate fully in the organization’s strategy development, governance, staffing, planning, and leadership of actions and advocacy; and,
  • Have experience in leading sustained organizing that builds public will to pass and implement equitable policies.

2. Strengthening Coalitions

TSFF believes that when community-based organizations work in coalition together to promote their shared goals, and to coordinate their efforts, their collective power can create a region in which all residents have access to a good job, a safe community to live in, and economic opportunities for themselves and their families. TSFF will invest in broader coalition building that can aggregate power across race, ethnicity, geography, and issues areas to achieve greater racial and economic equity in the region. The goal of this funding strategy is to build the capacity of organizations, including faith-based groups, to collaborate and develop shared strategies and narratives. TSFF will consider supporting the development of not just existing but also newly emerging coalitions (including informal networks and alliances).

Priority will be given to applicants that:

  • Strengthen the long-term movement infrastructure by promoting collaboration and shared practices that enhance the capacity of member organizations and increase their effectiveness and collective impact; and
  • Demonstrate a track record of working together and a clear plan to coordinate across issues, neighborhoods, and populations for long-term impact.

3. Growing the Organizing Field

In this time of rapid displacement and demographic changes, TSFF will support efforts that ensure that all residents have an opportunity to have political voice and influence on the decisions that impact their lives. The goal of this funding priority is to grow and address gaps in representation and diversity in the organizing field, and nurture organizations, including faith-based groups, that aspire to engage more deeply in community organizing efforts. The focus will be on organizations that have not historically used community organizing as a main strategy in their prior work (such as direct service, youth development, community development or arts and culture organizations).

Priority will be given to applicants that:

  • Explain why a community organizing approach is critical to the success of their current and future work;
  • Demonstrate a need for and capacity to organize a constituency in a geographic area that lacks organizing capacity relative to the rest of the Bay Area, (e.g. East Contra Costa County or Southern Alameda County), and/or with a population that is historically underserved; and,
  • Have made an organizational commitment of staff and resources to develop knowledge of and sustain the practice of community organizing.

Grant Duration and Range: Applicants can apply for a grant period of one to three years, in the range of $30,000-$100,000 a year.

Applying for a Grant

To learn more and to apply for a grant, visit How to Apply. Funding during this open cycle is not available for capital campaigns or improvements, grants to individuals, medical research, event sponsorships, and/or political campaign contributions.

For questions about the Power pathway, please contact programs@sff.org.


To learn more about additional programs that are nurturing equity movements, please visit:

FAITHS Program
Koshland Program
Rapid Response Fund for Movement Building