Racial Equity Community Fund


reThe United Way envisions a just, equitable and inclusive community for residents of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Today, however, we are falling devastatingly short in providing equitable opportunities for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in our county. For example, according to the 2017 Douglas County Health Assessment, only white respondents felt that “our community values diversity, equity and inclusion” was a community strength. It is not just in terms of perception, however. BIPOC Douglas County residents face racist disparities in health, education, income, housing, and safety. 

According to the 2018 Douglas County Health Assessment, in our county: 
• there is a more than two-fold difference in the percent of Black babies born with low-weight at 13.7% - over every other race and ethnicity at 6.8%.
• the majority of Black children are living in poverty -- 72.1% of African-American children live at or below the FPL, which itself is low at ~$25,000 for a family of 4, as opposed to 11.5% of white children.
• the Latinx population shows statistically significant higher rates of unemployment (10.7%) compared to both whites (4.6%) and Douglas County (4.9%).
• Black males and Native American males have the lowest graduation rates in Douglas County (74.2% and 68.4%, respectively), with an average graduation rate of 83.8%

These disparities are a result of systemic racism that is perpetuated intentionally and unintentionally through institutions, culture, and individuals. In our fight to end poverty, the United Way has taken a stand to not do “business as usual” if it perpetuates racial or other forms of inequities. We are actively walking in the opposite direction on that conveyer belt, and invite you to walk or roll along with us towards justice and liberation for all people.

See this data visualized in our video explaining the Racial Equity Community Fund


The United Way believes in the power of the people to make change happen. Traditional funding models have resulted in systemic inequities in resource capacity for organizations led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, deepening disparities in those communities. The goal of this fund is to support initiatives working to advance racial equity in health, education, income, housing, food, and safety. Our bold goal is that local community-led initiatives will have full capacity to disrupt systemic racism and cultivate the conditions for full and equitable opportunities for Black, Indigenous, People of Color in Douglas County to participate and prosper.

eligibility critera:
Funds will be invested in grassroots and/or community nonprofit organizations in Douglas County, KS with projects focused on increasing equity and opportunities for local BIPOC communities. These grants provide support for organizations whose work benefits people with low incomes, communities of color, and historically and/or systematically marginalized people.

Priority will be given to organizations:
• led by (executive leadership, board) Black, Indigenous, People of Color
• with organizational mission and goals focused on elevating and increasing equity for Black, Indigenous, People of Color
• leading policy and advocacy efforts that include power-building with and for BIPOC communities
• taking a multi-generational approach that priorities youth and families
• aligning with United Way’s mission of ending poverty, facilitated by equitable access to quality education, healthcare, jobs, housing, food, and community engagement

brightenIneligible for funding:
• Organizations with budgets over $500,000
• Organizations with less than 25% BIPOC executive leaders and board members
• Government programs
• Other foundations or granting programs
• Public, private, or charter schools
• College or university programs
• Businesses or business associations

Applicants may be selected to receive between $500 and $5,000 in funding. Applicants are encouraged to include overhead/operation costs, up to 50%, in the requests. Funding begins January 2021. Projects must take place between Jan.1-June 30, 2021.

priority popoulation:
The priority population for these funds are Black, Indigenous, People of Color living in Douglas County, KS. At least 75% of people served through the Racial Equity Community Fund should identify as Black/African American, Indigenous/Native, Asian Pacific Islander, Chican@/Latinx, Middle Eastern, and/or People of Color.

Priority will be given to projects that focus on the intersections of BIPOC identities, bringing those systemically pushed to the margins to the center of the project. The highest priority will be given to projects focused on the intersections of racism and poverty.

Eligible activities:
The eligible activity categories for funding are Direct Supports, Advocacy, and Community Building. Please see the RFP for specific funding goals and activities. 


Clare's Community Closet


Community Closet to provide clothing and supplies to those in need.


Maseualkaulli Farms


The BIPOC Communal Cook Program (CCP) seeks to mentor beginner cooks. Learning and cooking space for this program will be provided in partnership with Sunrise Project (501c3). We have been in collaboration for the past 4 months to provide community meals. The CCP will extend both knowledge and chef’s gear to mentees. They will be guided through scaling up recipes, food budgeting, meal costing, and food safety. This will include a hands-on experience cooking a community meal. Educational costs and classism inherent in most volunteer labor disproportionately impact BIPOC. Because of this, the program will provide a stipend to help financially enable CCP participants to learn how to become communal cooks. Coursework and communal cooking will entail 10 hours of work and each mentee will have a food budget to use from the culturally specific grocery stores in Douglas County. We already have a well-stocked pantry of staples from a Rebuilding East 9th St grant, and the food budgets for the mentees will help round out the supplies needed for the meals. I myself am a farmer. My farm and Mellowfields Farm have been working to provide fresh produce for these meals over the past four months. This will continue under the CCP.


Sunrise Project


Sunrise Project proposes to host a spring session of Activate Your Voice, a leadership and civic engagement training that prioritizes Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Activate Your Voice (AYV) was created by community members in 2019 as a platform to connect traditionally marginalized community members to education and knowledge that increases their comfort and skills in the arena of leadership and community engagement. The learning session incorporates Kansas Leadership Center principles, as they serve as a common language in our community - they are referred to often in meetings and worksites. Along with KLC principles, our session incorporates exercises that help participants determine their social change passions and helps them learn about existing opportunities in our community for involvement. The initial training will be a day-long event scheduled on a date that works for the participants, with food, childcare and transportation provided, to ensure equitable access.

In addition, Activate Your Voice introduces participants to how city and county government works and includes follow up "field trips" where Sunrise staff and AYV participants attend commission, school board and other civic meetings together.


We All We Got


Black Summer will build on previous work and center Black Mama’s while building community. There will be two components.
1. A Black Mama's Mother's Day action to support Black Mamas
2. An educational series on historical Black moments and Resistance incorporating oral tradition, communal meals, art and ending with a block party.


Indigenous Community Center Ad-Hoc Group


Invisibility has been a word to describe the general perception of Indigenous people in the United States. Invisible from the world of business, economics, science, technology, and the arts. The standards by which Indigenous people are measured are based on the dominant culture's definitions of success. In the Lawrene community if you asked about the Indigenous population the response will include a reference to Haskell. Haskell is a unique and historic institution. It deserves the recogntion it receives due to its longetivity and service to American Indian and Alaska Native students since 1884. However, there is still a larger segment of the Lawrence community representing a variety of Indigenous nations that are not a student or employed at Haskell. Each of these groups will be served by the Indigenous community center. One of the projects to launch the Indigenous Community center's rise from the ashes is the creation of digital storytelling. Our project, "Telling our Stories through an Indigenous Perspective and Lens" will focus on creating videos to share on our social media platforms to describe the Indigenous community center's services and programs. Secondly, to enable a means to preserve family histories, share cultural programming, and share highlights of local and regional Indigenous community members achievements.


Hidden Jewel


Janine seeks to continue creating a space in her shop for Black people to come get their hair done, and to talk about health and their families. Covid-19 has put a lot of strain on Janine's business, and on her clients who struggle to maintain their hair health and overall health. It's very difficult to see one client at a time when Black hairstyling takes the time and care that it does. With funding, she could could continue renting her shop and doing Black hair for no cost to the clients. Janine counsels her clients on what health issues their hair health may reveal, and has helped Black clients discover root causes to their hair concerns through encouraging them to initiate discussions with their doctors. Janine wants her clients to continue coming in and investing in knowing and advocating for their bodies. She'd love to continue serving her clients so they're ready for all the important moments in their lives- weddings, graduations, funerals, job interviews, or just cause. She specializes in natural hair care and styling.


Sanctuary Alliance Lawrence, KS


Sanctuary Alliance was founded in July of 2019 by community grassroots organizers in response to the horrors of family separation and detention as the US/Mexico border. Each individual in the founding group has had extensive experience in immigration reform and pro immigration organizing. As a response to the community outcry for justice, Sanctuary Alliance began recruiting supporters to request the city work on and create legal binding ordinance to support those in the community who do not have citizenship status. Over the course of the past year, Sanctuary Alliance and the City of Lawrence have worked on and completed an ordinance to support immigrants in the community and prevent city staff from unnecessary contact with federal enforcement regarding immigration matters. The ordinance was successfully passed by city commission in September of this year. Sanctuary Alliance has also created an emergency fund in which those affected by detention/deportation or have the status of undocumented can request funds to support daily life. This includes, rent assistance, legal fees, bill assistance etc..
Sanctuary Alliance is a non-hierarchical community lead organization who focuses on the ideology of mutual community support. We do not function as a traditional non-profit in order to allow for emergence in our organizing and inclusivity in our membership. We believe everyone has stake in community work and can mutually benefit from our accomplishments.


Sisters With A Purpose (SWAP)


SWAP is a growing community-based organization out of Lawrence, Kansas dedicated to fighting for justice. Our mission is to advocate for those who have been affected by institutional racism and systemic inequality by campaigning for laws and procedures that ensure quality healthcare, housing and employment opportunities for marginalized individuals. We will do this by being a positive force for change in our community; by bringing people of all backgrounds together, supporting the education of our youth, and fostering positive relationships between the community and local law enforcement. Sisters With A Purpose has been doing amazing things around Lawrence for a while now, but we need to get organized and official! One of our current short-term goals is to get SWAP registered as a non-profit organization.


To learn more reach out to us at communications@unitedwaydgco.org


how to apply: (applications are not currently open)

All applications and must be submitted online through E-CImpact.

  • Current United Way Community Impact Partners may log in to E-CImpact using their normal credentials.
  • New agencies must create an account using the "New to E-CImpact" link at the bottom of the home page. New organizations will be asked pre-qualification questions, and if eligible, will be able to create an E-CImpact account and submit the proposal.

Instructions on registering a new agency and submitting a grant application through E-CImpact can be found in the Agency Site Manual. You may download the manual by clicking here, or on the image below.