Our Grants

Grantmaking focused on structural change

Common Counsel Foundation and our partners focus resources on dynamic and effective approaches to community organizing and movement building that translates into expanded community power and capacity to advance policy change and other forms of structural change.

Who we fund

The organizations we and our funding partners support are led by communities that have been excluded and pushed to the margins by systems of oppression – all organizing to build their power.
Our Nonprofit Partnerships

Common Counsel Foundation partners with nonprofits and community leaders that are accountable to their people. Seventy-five percent of our nonprofit partners are majority people of color, with 50% led by people of color and people with direct connection to their work.

In giving, especially in times of crisis, how we do it matters. General operating support accounts for 80% of our grants, with the remaining 20% of grants going to support capacity building or programs. This practice of trusting the expertise of community leaders, being directed by their vision and on-the-ground experiences is at the heart of our work and how we show up.

Member funds

Funds held at Common Counsel Foundation engage in both proactive and responsive grantmaking cycles. Click the “+” for more information about the funds and families that have open cycles.

Abelard Foundation West

Abelard is a family foundation with a 50-year history of progressive grant-making. The Foundation is committed to supporting grassroots social change organizations that engage in community organizing which:

  • Utilizes membership or grassroots participation to represent the interests of communities in which they are based.
  • Expands community control over economic, social and environmental decisions affecting the community’s well-being.
  • Builds a strong informed voice on public policy issues.
Grantmaking Information

Common Counsel Foundation manages Abelard Foundation’s western grant program. Organizations based in eastern states (east of the Mississippi River) should visit the website for the Foundation’s eastern office.

Abelard Foundation West offers general support grants in the range of $6,000 – $12,000. The Abelard Foundation has an open Letter of Inquiry (LOI) process, however full proposals are accepted by invitation only.

There are two LOI deadlines each year – on January 15 and June 15. If the deadline falls on a weekend date or holiday, the deadline will be moved to the next business day after the weekend day or holiday.

The first step in submitting a letter of inquiry is to thoroughly review the eligibility criteria and grant-making guidelines in order to ensure that your organization is a good fit for our grant program. 

Acorn Foundation

Established in 1978, the Acorn Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to supporting community-based organizations working to advance environmental conservation, sustainability and environmental justice. The Foundation’s name was taken from the street where the family lived.

The Foundation is particularly interested in small and innovative community-based projects that engage in community organizing in order to:

  • Advocate for environmental health and justice, particularly in low-income communities, communities of color and indigenous communities;
  • Preserve and restore habitats supporting biological diversity and wildlife;
  • Prevent or remedy toxic pollution.

The Acorn Foundation has an open Letter of Inquiry (LOI) process, however, full proposals are accepted by invitation only. Please review the eligibility criteria and grantmaking guidelines to ensure your organization is a good fit. Organizations that meet the eligibility and funding criteria are encouraged to submit the letter of inquiry form. Please understand that even if your organization fits within the Acorn Foundation guidelines, due to limited funds, we are only able to invite full proposals from approximately 10% of the organizations that apply.

Grant programs

Common Counsel Foundation facilitates grants to grassroots organizing groups and other change efforts that are part of broader intersectional movements for social justice.

Grassroots Exchange Fund (GXF)

A community-guided rapid response small grants program established to build bridges between grassroots social and environmental justice organizations throughout the United States. GXF grants help community-based organizations to engage in collaborative campaigns, strengthen key cross-region and cross-sector movements, and participate in organizing and technical assistance trainings. GXF has an open application process for qualifying organizations.

Deadlines are on a monthly cycle (May-November).

Fund for an Inclusive California

The Fund for an Inclusive California is a collaborative funding initiative co-designed with grassroots leaders to advance racial and economic equity by building the power of communities of color to achieve housing justice.

Anchored in a power-building framework, we focus on investing in the leadership of communities directly affected by unjust and racist housing policies, so that they may harness their individual and collective power to ensure that all people regardless of income have a safe, healthy, affordable, and stable place to call home.

Native Voices Rising

Native Voices Rising, a project of Common Counsel Foundation and Native Americans in Philanthropy, is a research and re-granting project designed to support grassroots groups led by and for Native communities in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities.

To date, Native Voices Rising has supported over 140 dynamic organizations that are engaged in a wide range of activities to build community leadership and improve the well-being of Native communities.

Still We Rise Fund

As conditions rapidly change in the current political environment, the Still We Rise Fund’s goals are to facilitate, scale and accelerate the delivery of responsive funding to a diverse range of membership-led, community-based organizations that are organizing in vulnerable communities across the country (e.g. immigrant, Black, Arab and Muslim, Native-American, women, working-class, LGBTQ people, and environmental justice communities). Deadlines are on a monthly cycle.

What makes Still We Rise unique:

  • Community-Informed Grantmaking – grassroots leaders inform the grantmaking process, priorities, and decisions
  • Responsive, Flexible Funding – grant awards can be quickly deployed to support ongoing and planned efforts, with grants reviewed and deployed on a weekly basis
  • Streamlined Proposal/Reporting Requirements – minimizing the proposal and reporting process to maximize the impact of funding dollars

The Still We Rise Fund is currently not accepting applications.

 

More Grantmaking Resources

Information about our grantmaking guidelines, timelines and portal

About our open cycle programs

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Each of our grantmaking programs have their own guidelines, and not all are open cycle.

Common Counsel Foundation member funds that have an open letter of inquiry process have deadlines on January 15 and June 15 of each year.

More information about active grant processes can be found at our grant portal.

Log into the grant system portal

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If you are a current nonprofit partner, log in to the portal to get information about active grant timelines and reports.

Access the grant portal here. 

For information about the portal, your grant or other questions, please contact us by email at [email protected]

The beauty of working with Common Counsel is that the staff manages to serve the interests of all three generations of our family. They have helped us to design a grantmaking program that reflects both the common values and our unique concerns. Common Counsel connects us to each organization we fund through excellent research and first-hand reports from site visits. It also gratifies us to know that through collaboration with other members of the Foundation, we can often reach organizations that wouldn’t be possible if we stood alone.

Abelard Foundation Trustee
Lincoln, MA

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