Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund 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.

A multi-issue fund, our Rapid Response Fund supports organizations on the frontlines, defending the most vulnerable communities with timely, flexible grants with an emphasis on funding in states and communities where women of color, transgender people of color, and low-income women and trans people-led organizing is under-resourced.

How to Apply for Rapid Response Funding

If you’re interested in applying for Rapid Response funding, please 1) review the process and deadlines information; 2) review Groundswell’s definitions, and 3) take the criteria self-assessment.

Groundswell strives to reduce the burden to organizations, especially in times of crisis. Therefore, RRF requests are made via phone, although we welcome proposals in lieu of a phone call. RRF requests can be submitted at any time but must be submitted by that month’s deadline date to be considered for that month.

Rapid Response Fund grant requests for 2021 may range from $5,000 to $20,000. On rare occasions, Groundswell may consider requests of up to $25,000, yet the average grant size is $8,000.

Review the process, deadlines, and criteria, then complete the criteria self-assessment. If the request is a match to 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 to RRF criteria.

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

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

Organizations are notified about their grant request on or around the 25th of each month.

*Dates subject to change.

Submission Deadline: August 13, 2021
Notification: August 25, 2021

Submission Deadline: September 15, 2021
Notification: September 24, 2021

Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund (RRF) 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 non-conforming (TGNC) 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 Transgender/GNC (TGNC) Led:

  • (a) organizations with a majority WOC/TGNC board, staff, and volunteers in leadership positions;
  • (b) a WOC/TGNC-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/TGNC in decision-making positions at the staff and board level;
  • (c) a WOC/TGNC-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.

If the organization is an existing Groundswell Fund grantee, the RRF request must fall outside their existing scope of work.

Due to the continuing public health crisis of COVID-19, RRF requests may be made for:

  • Digital organizing for immediate asks due to COVID-19 such as online eviction moratorium, rent/mortgage and/or utility suspension, paid sick leave, federal relief to ensure communities most impacted are not left out, etc.
  • Responding to hate crimes and bias against Asian American and Asian communities resulting from COVID-19. Online member and voter engagement that is responding to an unexpected opportunity or threat.
  • Providing critical access/funding to reproductive health care and birthing support, if it has been impacted by COVID-19.
  • Mutual aid societies that are organizing people most impacted such as people who are immunocompromised, elderly, low-income, trans people of color, undocumented, and/or women of color. Organization-leading work must have a track record of organizing and dismantling systems of oppression.

Additional Considerations:

Groundswell Fund has made a commitment to movement to specifically increase grantmaking to Black women, Indigenous women, Trans women of color, and TGNC 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 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 2020. Therefore, we hope to reach organizations and communities we have previously not supported.

In order for a RRF 2021 request to be considered:

  • your 2020 RRF grant cycle period must have concluded;
  • RRF 2020 grant report must be submitted; and
  • know that we will take into account the grant size awarded in 2020.


As we face an onslaught of local and national attacks on women of color and trans people of color, lack of access to a funding mechanism that can deploy resources quickly has cost women of color and trans people of color activists and organizations in the United States countless policy setbacks and missed opportunities for base-building.

In response, Groundswell Fund launched its Rapid Response Fund in January 2016. Dedicated to moving resources quickly and strategically, the Fund seeks to meet unforeseen needs and opportunities in the struggle to advance and defend social and reproductive justice organizing by women of color and trans people of color.

What might the Rapid Response grants support?

  • A strategic organizing response to a public attack or a community crisis.
  • A strategic organizing response to advance solidarity and coordination of organizations working across issues to defend the most vulnerable communities.
  • A strategic organizing response to an unforeseen legislative or policy development.
  • A strategic organizing response to a new opportunity that is immediate, has a specific time frame, and is aligned with Groundswell Fund’s approach and priorities.
  • A short-term project or action that creates opportunities to organize and build coalitions and/or educate public officials or the general public.


In 2020, the Rapid Response Fund moved $1,325,000 to 145 organizations. This is a huge record for Groundswell Fund and a milestone for RRF within the first five years of its existence. RRF supported 30 local and state-based efforts including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Puerto Rico, D.C., to name a few, as well as to several national efforts.

You can learn more about our 2020 grantees by downloading our mid-year Rapid Response Fund docket featuring grantees from January through June 2020.