Rapid Response Fund

Accepting Applications, Cycling Deadlines

  • Apply Now
  • Applications due
    Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 1

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.

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.

In 2021, we funded 87 organizations to the tune of almost $800k.

Meet Rapid Response Fund Grantees

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.

Rapid Response Five 5-year report

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.

Khmer Girls in Action

Photo courtesy of Khmer Girls in Action

What does the Rapid Response Fund support?

There is a range. Historically, the RRF has moved up to $250,000 to approximately 30 grantees per year. But in 2020, Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund moved $1.1 million to 145 grantees. This marked a tremendous, unexpected increase that reflects our commitment to responding to the needs of the field during a year of multiple crises.

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:

1. Urgency

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.

2. Leadership
  • 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
3. Organizing + Base-Building
  • 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.
4. Building Systems of Community Care

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 Hurricane Ida and other climate disasters led by directly impacted communities
  • Local efforts to advance vaccine equity and health justice in places where Delta 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
  • Afghanistan solidarity and relocation support rooted in issue organizing and base-building organizations
  • Community rooted and local birth justice efforts and organizing
  • Healing justice connected to a specific campaign or issue organizing opportunity
Additional Considerations:

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.

Note: If you received a RRF grant in 2020 and are looking to submit another RRF request in 2021, please keep in mind:

Groundswell’s RRF budget is 50% less than what it was for 2021. Therefore, we hope to reach organizations and communities we have previously not supported.

In order for a RRF 2022 request to be considered:

  • 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
  • Congregations/churches
  • 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
  • Ballot initiatives
  • 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

What is the process?

Review the process, deadlines, and criteria, then complete the criteria self-assessment.

If the request matches Groundswell’s RRF criteria, you will be prompted to schedule an intake call. Our staff may cancel your request if they conclude it is not a fit.

Intake calls must be completed by the application dates listed below to be considered for that month.

Application Deadlines
September 15, 2022
October 14, 2022

Please note: The Rapid Response Fund will be on hiatus for the month of July and August. We will begin accepting requests again on August 30, 2022 for September.

Although the fund is closed, we understand that there may be emergent work and the Rapid Response Fund will accept a limited number of requests from current Groundswell Fund grantees if the project addresses current attacks on bodily autonomy, specifically abortion access and anti-trans legislation.

Please follow the link to submit

Groundswell’s grantmaking staff reviews the requests and may seek input from trusted stakeholders familiar with the region or issue.

Please take the self-assessment to see if your organization qualifies for RRF. If your organization does, you will be provided with a link to schedule an intake call at the end of the survey.

For security purposes, you must log into Gmail to complete this assessment.