Application Process


Democratic Philanthropy In Action

Request for Proposal Release Date: TBA

Proposal Submission Deadline: TBA


  • Applicants must be a rural community organization, coalition or network located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia.
  • Groups must be governed by community leaders from the same race and class as their members.
  • Groups must use grassroots organizing strategies in their fight for justice, aimed at enabling members to become community decision-makers.

Applicants may request general support or project support. In SPF’s 2019 grants cycle, organizations had to have operating budgets of $350,000 or less to receive general support. Organizations with operating budgets over $350,000 could apply for project support only.

A site visit is required for new applicants, a phone interview is sufficient for previous grantees. Members of SPF grants committees will contact organizations being considered to schedule a site visit or phone interview. 

SPF’s grants committees, made up of SPF members, make grants decisions which are then ratified by the Board.  In most cases groups are notified of grants decisions by mid-October. 

Grantees must submit a final report on the use of their grant, as described in their application. New requests will not be considered until all final reports have been submitted.

If an organization has received five consecutive years of regular grant cycle funding, it must take a year off before making a new grants request. Organizations unsure about grants status may contact SPF’s program department at To receive announcements regarding the regular grants cycle, groups must contact the program department at and request that they be placed in their email database.

Discretionary Fund

Applicants must fall within SPF’s guidelines and have a focus on grassroots community organizing in the rural South, in one or more of SPF’s initiatives or program areas.  Existing grantees or organizations new to SPF may apply.

Discretionary fund resources are limited. Organizations may submit a maximum of two requests per year for a total reward of $2,500 per year.  

Discretionary funding areas: 

  • General Discretionary: community organizing activities or small projects that aim to create change in SPF’s 12-state region;
  • Technical Assistance: capacity building, strategic planning, organizational development, trainings and technology upgrades;
  • Travel Assistance: conference travel and participation or civic engagement activities.

There is no application form. Requests must:

  • Include the following on organization letterhead or include legal organization name, address, phone number and email, name of executive director or board chair;
  • Indicate which of the three discretionary funding areas are being applied for;
  • Include requested grant amount and the number of communities or people the grant is expected to impact;
  • Include a brief narrative:
    1. Outline of purpose and timeline;
    2. How it relates to grassroots organizing;
    3. Benefit to organization and community;
    4. Goals and objectives;
    5. Expected outcomes and achievements;
    6. Most recent board approved operating budget;
    7. Current list of board members with demographics and email addresses;
    8. A copy of IRS 501c3 letter or alternatively, a letter from a fiscal sponsor on sponsor’s letterhead, indicating the sponsor agrees to take fiscal responsibility for the applicant;
    9. Fiscal sponsor must submit a financial accounting of the award detailing all expenses after the grant term is complete.

Applications are reviewed by SPF’s program officer and should be emailed to SPF’s Program Officer will review the application and can answer questions about the application process or supporting documents.

Justice Fund for Disaster Relief and Renewal

Climate change and environmental disasters increasing in number and intensity pose a clear and present threat to human rights and economic development in the rural South.

When Katrina and Rita devastated rural communities from Florida to Louisiana 14 years ago, SPF brought funders together to create a funding collaborative focused on aid and equitable redevelopment. SPF pointed out the hardest hit and slowest to recover communities, due to lesser developed infrastructure, are always communities with the lowest income, often of color. New Orleans’ ninth ward was a glaring example.  

SPF argued that the goal of relief must be to help these communities attain new standards of political and economic health and wholeness, rather than restoring their previous underserved and impoverished norms.  

Today, SPF’s Justice Fund for Disaster Relief and Renewal is showing rural communities how to use redevelopment opportunities to convert a disaster into a launchpad.  

Application process is similar to Discretionary Fund application process.