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Building Capacity for Resident-Led Grantmaking

Resident-led grantmaking, with grantmaking committees composed of residents from the neighborhoods that are targeted for capacity building grants, is an emerging trend within the field of grassroots grantmaking.  Currently, a number of organizations within Grassroots Grantmakers’ network of funding organizations utilize this practice.  Other organizations in our network include neighborhood residents on their grantmaking committee along with foundation trustees, donors and other institutional leaders. We identify this as a promising model and would like to share the model and promising practice recommendations with funders who are interesting in utilizing this approach.

With that goal in mind, Grassroots Grantmakers is currently connecting with funders that utilize a panel of residents as partners in making funding decisions related to grassroots grantmaking (resident grantmakers) to document promising practices and foster learning about this approach.  We will share what is learned in a toolkit that we will make available to funders to help strengthen their work or launch work that is positioned to build from the experience of their peers.

Our workplan for this project includes:

  1. Conducting interviews with residents who serve on grantmaking committees and staff  who work with resident-led grantmaking committees.  We are particularly interested in learning from the resident grantmaking committee members  about their experience as resident panel members, what they have learned, what they have been able to take back to their community, and what training or information would have helped them leverage the opportunity to serve in this capacity for greater impact.
  2. Organizing a peer-learning oriented convening for (and with) resident grantmaking committee members that provides opportunities for resident grantmaking members from different communities to pursue sharing learning agendas and exchange experiences, insights and lessons learned.  This will be a by-invitation-only convening, held in Cleveland  in May of 2012.
  3. Developing a training curriculum or tool kit that can be utilized by funders who are using or want to use the resident-led grantmaking model.
  4. Sharing this learning with others via this website, blog posts, webinars and presentations.

We are interested in expanding the learning circle for this project with funders who are engaged in grassroots grantmaking (and by that we mean grantmaking that is designed to directly support everyday people and the groups that they form for community change or mutual aid via a highly relational style of grantmaking and technical assistance that includes scale appropriate grants ranging from $100 to $10,000), and who are utilizing a grantmaking process that is designed as a capacity building and leadership development opportunity for community residents and involves residents from the community that the grants are designed to benefit as key decision-makers.

We are asking those involved with this project to:

  1. Connect Grassroots Grantmakers’ AmeriCorps VISTA, Rachel Oscar, to resident panel/committee members for telephone interviews;
  2. Support  a delegation (3-4 people) of resident grantmakers to travel to Cleveland for the peer learning gathering of other resident grantmakers (cost will be similar to one of our On the Grounds with a modest registration fee to cover food etc and pay-your-own way travel and lodging);
  3. Participate in the development of materials to share promising practices and lessons learned with the broader funding community.

If you are interested in participating and or learning more, please contact Rachel Oscar (216-685-2010 or rachel@grassrootsgrantmakers.org).

We also invite you to check  our website (Learning/Resident-Led Grantmaking) for stories, information and insights on resident-led grantmaking that we will be sharing as this project unfolds.

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