The Crisis & Change Frontline Support Round

About the Food and Farm Communications Fund

The Fund is a multi-funder pooled grant program and advocate for the critical role of strategic communications and narrative in advancing equity, justice, and resilience in our food and farm systems. The Fund works to provide and galvanize communications funding and resources for community-based organizations working to uplift grassroots narratives, build power, and embolden transformative food and farm systems change.

A Time of Crisis & Change

The COVID-19 crisis has put a spotlight on the inherent injustices of an extractive food system that prioritizes profits over people, and negatively impacts Black, Indigenous, and People of Color at highly disproportionate rates. We know this story is not new. Yet the heightened exposure of these fatal flaws—combined with the acute moment of visibility and mass action for racial justice—opens a key opportunity to uplift a counter-vision for our food and farm systems rooted in the values of equity, justice, resilience, and of grassroots-led transformation.

Acknowledging this important opening, the Food and Farm Communications Fund is shifting our grant offerings for the 2020-2021 funding cycle, combining all available grant funds into an invite-only round focused on building grassroots capacity to develop and amplify frontline-centered narratives about our food and farm systems during this critical time.

What do we mean by frontline-centered narratives?

We define frontline as directly impacted communities often hit first and worst by decisions and systems that create and perpetuate crisis, who are at the forefront of advancing community-led change. By narrative we mean a broadly accepted or “common-sense” idea used to explain the way things are in the world as well as our preferences and expectations for how they should be. Narratives are reinforced by the stories we tell and the messages we construct. Narrative change works to intentionally replace entrenched and often damaging narratives with new ideas and notions about what is possible. In doing so, narrative change serves as a powerful tool for shifting attitudes, behaviors, practices and policies that can bring about transformational systemic and cultural change.

Grantmaking Process and Timeline

Invited organizations can submit applications online via SurveyMonkeyApply using this link. A PDF of the application questions is available for download.

The Application Deadline is Monday, December 7th, 2020 at 11:59 pm CT. Applicants will be notified of grant decisions by February 1st, 2021.

Please do not allow concerns about grant writing skills dissuade you from applying. If you prefer to submit your application by phone or by audio or video recording, please let us know and we will make accommodations.

Eligible Activities and Expenses

Eligible activities and expenses are those that will build capacity to develop and amplify frontline-centered narratives into the public sphere during this critical time.

These activities and expenses include, but are not limited to: communications planning and strategy-setting; communications-based professional development and training for staff and leadership; establishing or updating communications-based platforms, systems, and tools; short-term communications staffing support or outside consulting; narrative training, development, and integration; message framing and testing; applied storytelling and development of content, collateral, or powerful media products; media pitching and training; digital media/organizing training and campaigns; and multi-cultural communications and translations.

Indirect expenses should be capped at 15%.

There are a limited number of ineligible activities and expenses, including: academic research projects; capital or endowment campaigns; conferences; litigation or legal expenses; marketing or branding for products or services.

Eligible Organizations

This invitation is not transferrable. All invited organizations have been deemed eligible, and should be a 501c3, fiscally sponsored project, or tribal entity with an annual average revenue of under $2 million. Fiscally sponsored projects will be asked to submit an Agreement Letter as part of the online application process.

Recognizing the essential role of organizations led by and serving Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in advancing far-reaching change across our food and farm systems, as well as the significant disparities in access to resources for these groups, the Fund is committing at least seventy-five percent of this funding round to BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving organizations. This may include global Indigenous-led organizations.

The Fund is also prioritizing proposals from frontline organizations working to take on corporate consolidation and power in food and agriculture while actively confronting racism and white supremacy.

Additional Priorities

The Food and Farm Communications Fund will also prioritize:

  • Organizations that prioritize leadership of the frontline constituents they serve within staffing, governance, and decision-making structures;
  • Requests that address current relevant needs and priorities while also working to build capacity and grassroots power for far-reaching cultural and systemic change;
  • Organizations and requests that are collaborative in approach and practice, and work to share lessons broadly with the field;
  • Requests that demonstrate an urgent or timely need/opportunity.

Funding Levels

The Food and Farm Communications Fund has committed all currently available pooled grant funds to this round, and anticipates investing up to $500,000. Grant amounts are contingent on the need and opportunity demonstrated by the full range of applicants as well as alignment with the purpose and stated priorities of this round of giving.

The great majority of grants will be for a one-year timeframe. One-year requests can range from $20,000 to $25,000. The Fund is able to make a limited number of two-year commitments for projects requiring a longer timeframe of support. Two-year requests are capped at a total of $40,000 over two years. Those requesting a two-year grant may be asked to provide supplemental materials and answer additional questions during the review period. The Fund is not in the position to offer renewals, and they should not be counted upon for a project’s success.

Grantees may be invited to participate in optional strategic communications and narrative change capacity-building and peer-networking opportunities during the term of their grant.

Please note: an invitation is not a guarantee of funding. 45 organizations have been invited to apply; we anticipate funding up to 20 proposals.

How will Grant Decisions be Made?

Grantmaking recommendations are made by the Food and Farm Communications Fund’s Grants Advisory Group and presented to the Fund’s Steering Committee for final approval. The Grants Advisory Group strengthens the Fund’s grantmaking process by rooting strategy and decision-making in the experience and wisdom of grassroots leaders, and drawing from the expertise of communications professionals specializing in community-led social change work. Grant Advisors sign a comprehensive Conflict of Interest Policy, and work collaboratively on behalf of the Fund.

Current members of the Grants Advisory:

Adam HymansCommunications Strategist

Jose OlivaAlliance Leader

Megan SaynischCommunications Strategist & Funder Advisor

Mark SchultzMovement Organizer

Tatiana AmorFunder Advisor

Any Questions?

Please reach out to Hilde Steffey if you have questions about this round’s grantmaking priorities and timeline. If you have questions about the SurveyMonkeyApply online portal and application process, please contact Sarah Forgey.

Photo Credits

Cover > "Frontline narratives" by HEAL Food Alliance.