An Inside Look at Liberty Hill’s Fund For Change Granting Process

by Anonymous (not verified) on September 06, 2014

By Miranda Chartoff

photo 2 Community Funding Board: (Top row left to right) Shukry Cattan, Elissa Perry, Eric Wat, Rabbi Heather Miller (Middle Row left to right) Xiomara Corpeno, Stacey Strongarone, Jacky Guerrero, Yamileth Guevara (Bottom Row left to right) Regina Freer, Jennifer Ito, Hal Barron

It’s that time of year again! Liberty Hill is in the midst of its primary competitive grantmaking program, Fund for Change. With the help of the Community Funding Board (CFB), Liberty Hill will soon decide which grassroots leaders will receive grants from the Fund for Change in 2014-2015. The CFB is a diverse group of volunteers who have organizing experience and strong perspectives around specific social issues. The CFB acts as a “think tank” to help Liberty Hill better assess the effectiveness of applicant organizations and the landscapes in which they work. The CFB plays an essential role in the five-month process of choosing which organizations to support financially.

To convene the CFB, which has been part of Liberty Hill's grantmaking process since its founding, Liberty Hill reaches out to organizers, academics, donor-activists, and other experts representing the great diversity of Los Angeles. This year, returning members of the CFB are Regina Freer, Saul Sarabia, Stacey Strongarone, Jennifer Ito and Eric Wat. Serving for the first time are Hal Barron, Jackie Guerrero,  Shukry Cattan, Xiomara Corpeno, Yamileth Guevara, Maria Loya, Rabbi Heather Miller, and Elissa Perry.  Members commit to an orientation day, a number of site visits to applicant organizations, completion of an assessment tool for a selection of applicants, and a report-back meeting for discussion and debriefing about each potential grantee.

The site visits are an integral part of the proposal review process because they are a means of obtaining much of the information necessary to make good funding decisions. CFB members are each assigned to review several organizations within one of four priority areas: education, worker’s rights, housing and land use, and LGBTQ justice. Visits include staff and leader interviews as well as tours of facilities and follow-up questions. Site visit teams for each priority area meet before the report-back meeting and compare and compile assessments of all applicants in the category. Once the CFB members are finished with all the site visits, the final meeting can take place.

Beginning at 9:30 am, the final CFB meeting involves in-depth discussions of each applicant in each priority area. Reviewers  consider where each organization stands in the landscape of the issue. Once all of the potential grantees are analyzed in regards to specific characteristics noted in written assessments, organizations are ranked  within the landscape of the issue.

The Fund for Change is the primary competitive grantmaking program at Liberty Hill. The goal is to fund community organizations that build power to win institutional change, with a heavy focus on base-building and leadership development in low-income communities and communities of color. These guidelines, in combination with the landscape analysis, make the ranking process thorough and fair.

AFter the final meeting,  the results are presented to the Liberty Hill staff for their consideration while making decisions. Deputy Director of Grantmaking Margarita Ramirez explains that Liberty Hill staff  "make the final grant determinations based on an additional layer of factors including: staff expertise in the issue areas, grantee performance over the years, the Liberty Hill Board’s strategic plan goals, and grants our applicants are receiving through other Liberty Hill programs.”

Check back later this month for the official Liberty Hill Fund for Change grant announcements. In the meantime check out this video, a lively animated explainer of this process.