How To Secure DEIB Grants for Consulting and Training

Inclusive Leadership
Minute Read

Every year, foundations and large businesses give billions of dollars to fund projects, causes, and organizations that align with their values. Awards from foundations made up 17 percent of contributions to nonprofits in 2019, amounting to $75.69 billion, and another 5 percent came from corporations.

At Ethos, almost 70 percent of our clients are nonprofits, and almost none of them have extra budget or resources, especially for vital but non-programmatic work like diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). The good news for them – and all nonprofits – is that many grants that fund critical interventions around DEIB, anti-racism, disability justice, gender equity, and employee social well-being exist. 

Keep reading for our best advice on finding and applying for grants you can use to pay for DEIB services. We’ve included a list of DEIB grants and less-restricted grants we’re familiar with at the end so you can mark your calendar and get ready to apply. 

Developing a DEIB Grant Application Strategy

Before you start looking, identify your current DEIB goals and the specific consulting services or trainings and programs that will help your organization achieve them. You may need to start with a diversity assessment or a pay equity review to gather information first. Once you know what you need, you can estimate what the budget will look like. Then find a grantmaker that supports DEIB work and a grant that you qualify for. 

Searching for DEIB Grants

There are a small number of grants, like the Illinois Humanities Vision Grants, that were created explicitly for DEIB work. But you can also look for broader terms like general operating support, capacity building, and professional development in grant descriptions. These can all be applied to DEIB services. You may find more opportunities by searching for grantmakers in your region that support the kind of work you do (for example, “grants for Midwest arts organizations”) and then narrowing down your results.

Funding organizations want to develop long-lasting, meaningful relationships with their existing portfolio of grantees. If you’re already receiving an annual programming-focused grant from a foundation like The William and Flora Hewitt Foundation or a member of an association like Chicago Women in Philanthropy, you may have access to additional grant opportunities for expenses that improve the overall quality of your services.

How To Apply for DEIB Grants

In your application materials, be sure to emphasize how DEIB consulting or training will improve experiences and outcomes for the people you serve. For example, if you provide mental health services and support groups for Indigenous people, workshops on understanding and preventing microaggressions, Indigenous status, and race in America will help your staff have better conversations and build trusting relationships. 

Some grantors will want to know exactly what topics your DEIB consulting will focus on and possibly who will be facilitating. Feel free to use the consulting and training and programs service descriptions on our website as well as our facilitator bios to help you fill out your applications. You can always send us a message if you have any additional questions. 

If you’re not selected for the grant the first time around, don’t give up! Most grants are awarded in cycles, and grantors are usually happy to provide feedback on how applicants can improve their chances in the future. Send a quick email to request feedback, mark your calendar for the next deadline, and try again.

Consider the following grant opportunities to support your organization’s DEIB efforts:

Ethos-Recommended Grantmakers to Investigate

TEGNA Foundation DE&I Grants

The TEGNA Foundation serves organizations in the communities where they do business, and they have a preference for organizations with diverse leadership. They recently developed an employee-led committee specifically for DE&I grants.

Grant Amount: $1,000 - $5,000 on average

Eligibility requirements: Tax-exempt public charities classified by the Internal Revenue Service as Section 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2)

Focus areas: Education, youth development, hunger, emergency assistance to families and individuals in crisis, and environmental conservation

Application window: March 1st and August 21st deadlines. Some locations have earlier deadlines.

Application materials:

  • Completed TEGNA Foundation Grant Application Form
  • IRS letter of determination for 501(c)3 tax exemption
  • Your organization’s non-discrimination policy
  • One-page project budget, and a one-page summary organizational budget
  • Project proposal of no more than three pages that includes a needs statement and sustainability statement
  • Pertinent recent publications may also be included

Learn More and Apply

Regional Grantmakers Who Support DEIB Work

1. Joyce Foundation Grants

The Joyce Foundation invests in policies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. They have a strong preference for organizations and projects that advance one or more of these three major goals. Foundation grantees help improve public policy through a range of efforts: research and analysis, policy development, communications, media outreach and public engagement strategy, policy advocacy, coalition and constituency building, grass-roots organizing, implementation and enforcement, and evaluation.

Grant Amount: Unspecified

Eligibility requirements: Applicants must serve populations in the Great Lakes region and align with The Joyce Foundation’s funding priorities

Focus areas: Culture, democracy, education and economic mobility, environment, gun violence prevention and justice reform, and journalism

Application window: 3 annual deadlines; in 2023, applications are due April 5, August 2, and December 1. Letters of inquiry should be submitted at least six to eight weeks prior to the proposal deadline for a given grant cycle.

Application materials: 

  • Letter of inquiry
  • Formal proposal
  • Itemized project budget and narrative 
  • Names and qualifications of people involved in the project
  • Board members, their title, outside affiliation, and telephone number
  • Organizational expenses and income for previous, current, and upcoming fiscal year
  • Audited financial statements for the most recently completed fiscal year
  • Internal Revenue Service Form 990 plus attachments for the most recently completed fiscal year
  • Internal Revenue Service verification that the organization is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and qualifies as a public charity as defined in IRS Code section 509 (a)(1), (2), or (3).

Learn More and Apply

2. Illinois Humanities Vision Grants

Illinois Humanities works with grantee partners throughout the state to better understand where the public humanities are headed and how they can support their progress. The organization funds Vision Grants to Illinois nonprofit organizations to carry out planning and evaluation projects related to their work in the humanities, as well as to conduct DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) workshops and trainings. 

Grant Amount: $2,000

Eligibility requirements: Humanities organizations with an annual budget of $1 million or less

Focus areas: Public and digital humanities organizations

Application window: September 16, 2023 - January 16, 2024 at 5:00 P.M. CST

Application materials: Online application

Learn More and Apply

3. Illinois Humanities General Operating Grants

Illinois Humanities works with grantee partners throughout the state to better understand where the public humanities are headed and how they can support their progress. They offer general operating grants of $10,000 as part of their Community Grants program in an effort to cater better to the needs of grantee partners.

Grant Amount: $10,000

Eligibility requirements: Nonprofit humanities organizations with budgets of $250,000 per year or less; grants will go directly to the applying organization, with no use of fiscal agents

Focus areas: Public and digital humanities organizations

Application window: June 1, 2023 - September 15, 2023 at 5:00 P.M. CST

Application materials: Online application

Learn More and Apply

4. Grand Victoria Foundation Grants

The Grand Victoria Foundation’s grantmaking efforts encourage systems change. They define this as work that improves conditions that hold social and economic problems in place. Their work celebrates the role of nonprofits in pursuing ideas and solutions with communities to improve the quality of life in Illinois.

Grant Amount: Unspecified

Eligibility requirements: Organizations must be registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity or be partnered with a fiscal sponsor or fiscal agent that meets this requirement. The Grand Victoria Foundation supports organizations in Illinois whose work is a strong fit with their program strategies. 

Focus areas: Economy, education, Elgin, engagement, and environment

Application window: Rolling

Application materials: 

  • Letter of inquiry
  • Organizational budget for the current year that reflects both revenues and expenses
  • Grant proposal

Learn More and Apply

Chicago Grantmakers Who Support DEIB Work

1. Chicago Foundation for Women

The Chicago Foundation for Women looks for organizations that have identified needs or systemic barriers faced by women and girls and have intentionally designed a program to meet those needs. They support nonprofit organizations within the Chicago metropolitan area (Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, and Will counties); however, programs can serve local, regional, statewide, or even, in some instances, national populations. See the How to Apply page for additional grants focused on specific neighborhoods and suburb areas.

Grant Amount: Training grants range from $35,000–$75,000. 

Eligibility requirements: 501c3 organizations must be located in the Chicago metro area, meet CFW’s Staff and Board Leadership Diversity Guidelines, reflect CFW’s Guiding Principles, and work to intentionally benefit women and girls in underserved communities.

Applicants must also have at least: 

  • 50% of Staff Leadership identify as a woman, transgender or gender non-binary person
  • 40% of Board Members identify as a woman, transgender or gender non-binary person
  • 33% of Staff Leadership identify as a person of color
  • 25% of Board Members identify as a person of color

Focus areas: Expanding economic security, ensuring freedom from violence, and enhancing access to health services for women and girls

Application window: Applications due February 6

Application materials: Online application

Learn More and Apply

2. Impact Grants Chicago

Impact Grants Chicago funds projects or programs that address an identifiable need within the organization or served population and have a high impact on the organization and the community it serves. These may include capital expenditures or improvements, funding of program expenses, or a combination thereof.

Grant Amount: $100,000

Eligibility requirements: Section 501(c)(3) Public Charities must be headquartered, operate, and provide the majority of the services in the city of Chicago. Must report total revenues for the last full fiscal year between $650,000 and $8 million in the most recent 990 and must be separately audited, if the entity applying for the grant is a subsidiary or consolidated affiliate. Must use the full amount of the grant within 24 months.

Focus areas: Culture, education, family, health, and sustainability

Application window: Letters of Inquiry accepted September through October

Application materials: 

  • Letter of inquiry
  • Full application
  • Site visit

Learn More and Apply

Parting Words

The grant application process can be slow and tedious. However, getting professional support for your DEIB goals is an investment in long-term change. Infusing your systems and culture with equity, inclusion, and belonging makes your work environment feel safer and less stressful for everyone. 

Because DEIB work is so rare among nonprofits, it’s a great way to become an employer of choice and set higher standards for human-centered leadership in the industry. When you start implementing intentional change and accountability within the organization, your community will notice.

Take a look at our service offerings or these case studies on how we’ve helped nonprofits move their DEIB goals forward.

You Might Also Like

Want to keep up-to-date on the latest DEIB practices?

Subscribe to Our Newsletter