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Library Research Guides

Finding Funding: Support for Current and Emerging Issues


On this page are foundations with specific foci as identified below. You can find general information here and more details in the documents linked at the bottom of the page. For further assistance, contact Foundation Relations.

Foundation Focus: Equity & Social Justice

About the Foundation What You Should Know Grant History

Ford Foundation

In 2016 The Ford Foundation restructured its grantmaking strategies and has placed a high priority on alleviating inequality, with primary interests in government transparency, racial, ethnic and gender equity environmentally equitable urban and rural communities.

Faculty may want to consider the Ford Foundation funding for these program domains:

  • Community empowerment
  • civil rights & justice
  • Governance and accountability
  • Equitable Cities/resources
  • Citizen participation in local government
  • Best practices for economic restructuring, mapping infrastructure needs and equitable resource improvements
  • Race/equity
  • Applicants are invited to submit their ideas through a short online form.

This program funded the work of journalist Curt Guyette, hired by the Michigan ACLU to investigate how the decisions of emergency managers were impacting financially strapped Michigan communities – which have been largely reserved for cities with majority-black populations. Guyette's work brought him to Flint and helped uncover Flint's water crisis. Here is the link to the Ford Foundation's blog: The crisis in Flint is about more than poisoned water

Harvard University, Saguaro Seminar for Civic Engagement, $400,000 (2015)

Duke University, AIDS Legal Project on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, $200,000 (2014)

W.K. Kellogg Foundation 

Kellogg Foundation's interests include Race and Equity. 

Faculty may want to consider The Kellogg Foundation funding for these program domains:

  • policy/advocacy – interventions in  public policy, communications, research/evaluation
  • race/equity- interventions in community engagement, network building/coalition building, collective action 

Application information: You will improve your chances of success if you are able to contact a Kellogg program officer prior to submitting.  If you don’t know a program officer, you can reach out to Foundation Relations.

  • The foundation has a bias towards community-based approaches to problem solving. Work in communities should involve community partners and empower residents. 
  • Be explicit in your language about the populations you are serving. Put the key demographic in the title of your grant, e.g. “Latino Youth,” “Flint families,” “Flint’s poorest residents in its northern neighborhoods.” 

Wayne State University, issues of structural racism in Detroit, $1,300,000 (2014)

University of Mississippi Medical Center, Health Care Equity & Leadership Institute to improve racial and ethnic disparities in the health care profession & education, $150,000 (2013)

Open Society Foundation 

Its U.S. programs general interests are promoting an inclusive, just society. 

Faculty may want to consideOpen Society funding for these program domains:

  • Media/journalism  - interventions  that address the accountability of government policies and practices
  • Policy/ Advocacy/ Research – interventions that examine and inform entrenched structural racism; policies, and/ or practices that impact poor communities, communities of color or marginalized communities  


• It is important to express how your work can help to make change on the ground.
• The focus of Open Society Foundations’ grantmaking is social change. Use language of impact more than research.

Harvard University, to develop a baseline of skills for emerging community advocacy leaders, $51,159 (2014)

Ohio State University Foundation, Kirwin Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, $200,000 (2014)

Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation’s general interests are improving the quality of city life, particularly for low income populations. 

Application: Contact Maureen Martin or Joseph Sutkowi at Foundation Relations.

  • The Kresge Foundation funds operating support, project grants and planning grants that help to advance their strategic objectives.  The health and environment teams have collaborated on a strategy for Kresge in Flint, to be announced. 
  • The foundation rarely supports research. Kresge prefers to support organizations engaging directly in policy and practice change. When research projects are funded, they usually are commissioned by the foundation.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Center on Society and Health. Grant to study and support the incorporation of innovative public health practices into the planning phase for a mixed-income housing redevelopment project in the city. $110,000 (2014)

University of California, Berkeley,Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, $200,000 (2013)