First grants made by £1m fund backing grassroots social movements

Our Grassroots Movements Fund - a pilot project to distribute more than ¬£1 million to grassroots social movements ‚Äď has awarded its first grants. Funding totalling ¬£616,000 was agreed using a participatory grant-making process, which means the nine decision-makers, the ‚Äėmovement assembly‚Äô, is made of people who have direct experience and knowledge of grassroots movements and of the issues of injustice the fund seeks to address.

The members of the movement assembly (pictured below) were involved in designing the decision-making process and considered applications in person over two days in discussions which were ‚Äúrich, insightful and necessarily challenging‚ÄĚ. By the end of the two days the assembly agreed to fund 12 organisations working hard to transform society which had struggled to secure funding elsewhere.

Projects included infrastructure support, healing and care work, neighbourhood and community organising and covered issues such as housing justice, migrant and disability justice, racist policing, violence prevention and sex worker rights. Grants ranged from £13,000 to £71,000 covering periods of between 12 and 24 months.

Our Grassroots Movements Fund, which will run as a pilot over two rounds, was launched in December 2022. The first step of the process was for groups to book in an eligibility call with the team to ensure those applying had a reasonable chance of being successful. All 180 call slots were booked up by New Year and after receiving 450 requests for calls the programme team had to take the very difficult decision to close the round early in order to be able to fully attend to the groups who had already been in touch.

Sixty nine of the groups they spoke to were eligible and 63 submitted applications, with an incredible breadth of analysis and practice and transformative visions for equity and justice.The movement assembly initially shortlisted 24 applications using a scoring system before beginning discussions at the meeting last month.

The programme’s staff, Elena Blackmore, Mumbi Nkonde and Sophie Pritchard, will work to build relationships with the 12 grantees and to support the soft infrastructure and capacity needs they might have, with an approach to equitably budgeting their work.

Learning partners, Inchange, are helping to support us in carefully reviewing this first round with input from applicants, grantees and movement assembly members to identify areas where more clarity, efficiency or fairness were needed so we can make changes ahead of the second round.