Rapid Response Fund
The Rapid Response Fund provides the philanthropic community with a vehicle for deploying resources quickly and strategically to Reproductive Justice and social justice organizations during unexpected and critical campaign fights and key opportunities.
In 2022, we funded 97 organizations to the tune of almost $800k.
*We encourage applicants to submit requests in advance of the deadline as intake call spots can be filled up quickly.
Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund (RRF) provides fast funding to grassroots organizations led by women of color, trans people of color, and low-income women and trans people in critical, but unexpected fights to protect and advance reproductive and social justice.
RRF also partnered with Black Trans Fund and Catalyst Fund, leveraging a total of $825,000 in 2022.
We also celebrated the Fund’s five-year anniversary and completed an impact evaluation examining the Fund’s success and key learnings. Through examples and longer case studies in the report, we illustrate how the RRF upends the traditional experience of women of color- and gender-expansive of color-led organizations that regularly find it difficult to access the kind of philanthropic support that larger, well-resourced, mainstream, and white-led organizations do.
Of the moment issues require in the moment support.
RRF is a multi-issue fund for the frontlines. Defending the most vulnerable communities with timely, flexible grants, RRF moves resources with an emphasis on funding in states and communities where women of color, transgender people of color, low-income women, and trans-people-led organizing is under-resourced.
What does the Rapid Response Fund support?
There is a range. The Rapid Response Fund has supported organizations doing work around activating and mobilizing their base for direct action, key campaigns, organizing opportunities, and building up coalitions and alliances. The Fund is a multi-issue Fund and has resourced work around reproductive justice, abortion care and support, trans justice, criminal legal reform and abolition work, environmental justice, healing justice, building communities and systems of care, among other critical issues of our time.
The Rapid Response Fund also collaborated with the Black Trans Fund to grant $200,000 specifically to Black trans-led organizations. In addition to the $1.1 million, RRF moved $150,000 in one-time rapid response support grants to existing Birth Justice Fund grantees.
Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund will continue to center its criteria around:
The request is responding to an unanticipated event, political moment, and/or requires urgent or timely action. It is a new/unexpected critical opportunity or threat.
- Must be majority women of color and/or transgender, gender expansive people of color-led organization.
- Groundswell Fund defines majority leadership that is more than 50% in decision making.
Definition of Women of Color and/or Trans and Gender Expansive (TGE) Led:
- (a) organizations with a majority WOC/TGE board, staff, and volunteers in leadership positions;
- (b) a WOC/TGE-led effort that is a core strategic priority within a majority white/cisgender people of color/white trans-led organization. This organization must have WOC/TGE in decision-making positions at the staff and board level;
- (c) a WOC/TGE-led coalition; or
- Groundswell Fund’s RRF aims to support organizations with a history of dismantling systems of oppression by way of organizing as a central strategy.
- Groundswell defines organizing as ongoing, systematic engagement and relationship building with an ever-expanding and increasingly committed number of constituents and leaders who act collectively to change the conditions harming the community due to systemic oppression and state-sanctioned violence.
- Specifically, this is achieved by building a base. Groundswell defines base building as using strategies to build the leadership of directly impacted communities to create solutions to the issues negatively impacting their lives, and gain skills, abilities, and collective power needed to transform and dismantle policies and systems that affect their lives.
For birth justice groups, using a reproductive justice and community-centric frame to provide a spectrum of support which includes abortion services, birth, and postpartum care that is urgent and responsive to a specific event.
Building new systems and imagining new ways of care for directly impacted people outside of existing systems which may include mutual aid and food sovereignty. This must be tied to organizing and not direct service provision.
If the organization is an existing Groundswell Fund grantee, the RRF request must fall outside their existing scope of work.
We are particularly interested in supporting the following issues in response to this political moment that meets other funding criteria and addresses the following community care needs:
- Community Care, mutual aid, and disaster resilience efforts in response to climate disasters led by directly impacted communities.
- Local efforts to advance vaccine equity and health justice in places where Covid-19 variant deaths and cases are on the rise rooted in issues organizing and base-building organizations.
- Housing justice efforts in response to the eviction moratoriums being lifted
- Community rooted and local birth justice efforts and organizing. This means using a reproductive justice and community-centric frame to provide a spectrum of support which includes abortion services, birth, and postpartum care that is urgent and responsive to a specific event.
- Healing justice connected to a specific campaign or issue organizing opportunity
Groundswell Fund has made a commitment to movement to specifically increase grantmaking to Black women, Indigenous women, trans women of color, and TGE people broadly. In addition to those communities, Groundswell is also prioritizing Southern, Midwest, and rural communities. Please see Groundswell’s 2020-2025 Blueprint for details.
If you received a RRF grant in 2021 and are looking to submit another RRF request in 2022, please keep in mind:
- your 2021 RRF grant cycle period must have concluded;
- RRF 2021 grant report must be submitted; and
- know that we will take into account the grant size awarded in 2021.
What does the Rapid Response Fund not support?
The Rapid Response Fund does not fund:
- 501(c)4 organizations
- Funding for individuals, personal projects, or personal needs such as personal health, emergency relief, and assistance, medical bills, rent, providing food or basic essentials to individuals
- Direct service provision defined as meeting individuals’ basic immediate needs and other emotional and social supports
- Travel expenses and conference fees
- Academic scholarships, campus education, K-12 after school or youth education initiatives, school programs (public or private, K-12, university, or postsecondary)
- Capital campaigns
- Community arts and theatre-based projects
- Publications, media events, or research unless it is tied to an organizing strategy
- Replacing revenue shortfalls or addressing cash flow challenges
- Organizational development or infrastructure building costs
- Leadership transitions
- General operating requests for ongoing work or existing programs that are not timely or urgent in response to sudden shifts in the political climate such as an unexpected threat or an unforeseen opportunity to build power
- Any projects not in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands, Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa
What is the process?
Groundswell’s grantmaking staff reviews the requests and may seek input from trusted stakeholders familiar with the region or issue. Please apply using our grants portal.
Email email@example.com with any questions.
Please note: Groundswell Fund is open Monday through Thursday and will not be able to respond to requests Friday through Sunday.
The Rapid Response Fund is open to rolling requests monthly. Please see below for a sample timeline of the decision-making process.
|Example Intake Call*||Grant Cycle Month/Decision|
|Feb.15th – March 15th||March Cycle – Decision sent around March 25th|
|March 16th – April 15th||April Cycle – Decision sent around April 25th|
|April 16th – May15th||May Cycle – Decision sent around May 25th|
*For your application to be considered for a specific month, please schedule the intake call before the 15th. For example, as shown in the chart above, if you hope to receive funding for April, your intake call must be before April 15th.
We are not able to fund events that have already happened.
We encourage applicants to schedule an intake call with our team as soon as they can, as limited spots fill up quickly.