Applying for Movement- and Power-Building Grants

Community Catalyst Fund - Civic Participation: Movement- and Power-building Community Grants

Heising-Simons Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Foundation

We believe that a healthy democracy is dependent upon all community members participating in the public policy process and exercising influence over the decisions that affect their lives. Yet here in Silicon Valley, there is a significant power imbalance. Communities of color do not have an equal role in deciding our region’s future. Studies have identified that communities of color face significant hurdles to building power. These hurdles are clear when analyzing representation among public offices, voter turnout and influence with elected officials.

Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) is partnering with Heising-Simons Foundation (HSF) to address these disparities by supporting organizing and power-building in Silicon Valley. Our foundations are committed to strengthening civic engagement, and increasing representation and equitable distribution of power. The focus of this grant round is to provide funding to support organizations that are organizing people, building coalitions and advocating for public policy changes in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

Nonprofits seeking funding, please navigate to to submit your application. If you have any questions regarding the application portal, please refer to this guide or view this instructional video.

If you have any questions about the nonprofit application requirements, SVCF's Community Action Team hosted an information session -- you may view the recording here and the corresponding presentation deck here.

The application period is now closed. Learn more about the grantees here.


SVCF’s strategic plan focuses on building a Silicon Valley where all can live financially secure, safe and fulfilling lives. To meet our four pillar goals , SVCF has shifted our grantmaking policies to provide more general operating support and capacity-building grants to organizations led by people of color and allied organizations that amplify the voices of and build power among historically underrepresented communities.

In December 2020, SVCF opened an RFP to support grassroots civic engagement, prioritizing smaller, BIPOC-led and allied organizations. All of the 22 grants issued through that RFP went to organizations with a clear focus on racial justice. Most the grantees are led by individuals who are Black, Indigeneous or people of color, and many of the organizations are first-time grantees of SVCF.

Our Community Catalyst Fund has also awarded funding to organizations working in issues areas such as Arts & Culture, Faith, Immigration, Neighborhoods, and Media & Journalism.

Our objective with these new grantmaking programs is to provide more flexible resources to a broader range of organizations. Together, these cross-sector organizations can share ideas and work together to bring their respective communities into the movement toward racial justice in Silicon Valley.

Similarly, over the past two years, HSF has invested in large anchor organizations in the City of San Jose that use community organizing to build the power of residents to change systems and policies that affect their lives and opportunities. HSF is widening its investments by partnering with SVCF to include smaller organizations and select organizations with a county-wide focus in Santa Clara County.

Grantmaking Process for Competitive Grants

Community Catalyst Fund - Civic Participation

The Civic Participation: Movement- and Power-Building Community Grants under the Community Catalyst Fund will provide funding to organizations led by people of color and allied organizations responding to the needs of communities of color and communities where the majority of families work in low-wage jobs. These investments, part of our long-term strategy to achieve systemic change in Silicon Valley, will build power in these communities.

Organizations seeking to apply should have a clear focus on racial justice and a plan in place to center the community they seek to serve in the design, implementation and leadership of the programs. Priority will be given to organizations with annual budgets under $1 million and led by people of color and allied organizations.
SVCF will prioritize support to organizations that commit to partnerships with others and make use of relational organizing strategies, while centering trusted community messengers in their work.

We are especially interested in supporting activities that continue to strengthen civic engagement, increase representation and effect more equitable distribution of power. Grants can be used to organize people, build coalitions and advocate for public policy changes. Other possible strategies could include policy advocacy, holding elected officials accountable, voter engagement and other tactics which are central to power-building.


  • Organizations must serve San Mateo and/or Santa Clara counties. Organizations headquartered outside the two-county region may apply but should demonstrate significant service to these areas or partner with a local organization that does.
  • Organizations must have a 501(c)(3) designation, a 501(c)(4) designation, or have a fiscal sponsor with a 501(c)(3) designation.
  • Organizations must not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, citizenship status, creed, religion, religious affiliation, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status or any other protected status.
  • Organizations with religious affiliations will be considered for funding only if the project for which they seek support addresses the needs of the wider community without regard to religious beliefs.

Additional Details

Grants will be awarded for either general support or specific projects. There is no maximum grant amount, but we expect the majority of the grants awarded will range from $30,000 to $50,000.

Funding will not be provided for:

  • Capital improvements
  • Budget shortfalls or fundraising events
  • Previously planned or long-term campaigns
  • Funding gaps due to internal organizational emergencies, such as office vandalism, resignation of an executive director or sudden loss of funding.

The application is streamlined to reduce time spent on applying and processing. Only one application may be submitted per organization. All eligible organizations may apply.  Preference may be given to organizations which do not currently have an active grant from the Community Action Grants program.

A small number of grants will be awarded for lobbying activities and to 501(c)(4) organizations.

This grant round will be managed by SVCF and questions and updates should be directed to SVCF staff by emailing

1 Advancement Project California. (2017, January 1). RACE COUNTS: Advancing Opportunities For All Californians.