“The first step to bringing about change, to starting a movement and making a movement work, to moving yourself toward a more productive and meaningful life is to set out barefootin’. Step out wobbly as a child, and start walking down the road. When you’re barefootin’, you don’t have to have a plan worked out in advance. Barefootin’ means being open to the possibilities and being available to act when one possibility comes along. It means starting right where you are and learning as you go. Barefootin’ means believing in yourself and having faith.”
Named in remembrance of Blackwell, The Lighthouse’s Barefootin’ Leadership Consortium serves as a space of professional and personal sanctuary for leaders whose priority is the centering and uplift of Black, indigenous, and other girls, women, and gender-expansive youth of color (particularly those in the Southeastern U.S.). It connects members in a network of mutual aid and support to a shared central hub of resources curated by The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects.
The Barefootin’ Consortium’s grantmaking supports movement work by resourcing organizations and individuals in their work toward a shared movement of liberation, especially as leaders and organization “set out barefootin’” along their way. Our grantmaking prioritizes programs and projects led by Black women/gender-expansive persons and other women/gender-expansive persons of color.
The ML Gordon Organizing Grant is named after 20th century Black nationalist activist and southern organizer Mittie Maude Lena Gordon. (Read more about Gordon here.) This grant currently provides mutual aid and funding up to $10,000 for programs with a demonstrated commitment to organizing and civic engagement toward Black girls’ resistance, resilience and liberation. Both registered non-profits and more informally-organized programs may apply. Funds must be used to support program delivery, and may not be applied to capital expenses or development campaigns.
The Virginia Hamilton Storytelling Grant is named after honored children’s author Virginia Hamilton, who received every major award for children’s literature. Hamilton believed “storytelling was the first opportunity for Black folks to represent themselves as anything other than property.” (Read more about the author here.) This grant currently provides mutual aid and funding up to $7,500 for projects with a demonstrated commitment to telling the stories of Black girls’ history, power, self-actualization and liberation. Both registered non-profits and more informally-organized programs may apply. Funds must be used to support program delivery, and may not be applied to capital expenses or development campaigns.
The Walker Fund is designed to take steps toward financial health by offering an opportunity for support and reprieve in a respectful and thoughtful manner. The goals and propositions of the initiative are few and pointed. They are as follows:
Program requirements, eligibility and expectations for financial assistance have been too restrictive to be helpful to poor people. It is easy for poor Black people, in particular, to be caught in debt traps. Often programs that have the intention of helping facilitate harsh, short-sighted, and racist limitations on the scope of the microgrants meant to help people with real problems (in the rare instances they are available to individuals).
Though the requirements for the Walker Fund aren’t a free for all, they are less stringent than formal banking institutions might offer. This flexibility is an attempt to create conditions to help people out of a financial rut.
Because The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects’ Barefootin’ Consortium seeks to resource programs that have just “set out barefootin’” along their way, our grantmaking is open to both section 501c3 non-profits and to more informal programs, such as neighborhood or community projects.
Programs that are not already tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code can receive Barefootin’ Leadership Consortium grant funds by partnering with a fiscal sponsor. For the purposes of Barefootin’ Leadership Consortium grantmaking, it is possible for The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects to serve as your fiscal sponsor, if needed.
If you are not a section 501c3 non-profit and would like The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects to serve as your fiscal sponsor, your project should:
For more general information on fiscal sponsorship, you may read this synopsis of the classic guide “Fiscal Sponsorship: Six Ways to Do It Right” and check out our infographic.
If you have any questions about fiscal sponsorship as it relates to the Barefootin’ Consortium grant-making program, please email email@example.com.
For a small organization just getting started, getting a project off the ground is a massive undertaking. It requires thousands of person-hours of organizing individuals, gathering resources, planning, labor and great expectations. And all of that comes before you get to fundraising, taxes and challenges associated with starting an organization. (Ask us here at The Lighthouse, we’ve been through it and know.) Larger, already-established nonprofit organizations have multiple financial systems in place to deal with grants, donations and taxes. Fiscal sponsorship allows larger organizations, using their already-established structures, to provide technical assistance, fiduciary oversight, administrative services, and even risk management to individuals, groups and other organizations involved in charitable initiatives.
How do I know If I’m eligible to apply for one of these grants?
You are eligible to apply for a Walker Fund Microgrant (for individuals) if the following is true:
And you are eligible to apply for an ML Organizing or Virginia Hamilton Storytelling grant, if the following is true:
I don’t have a 501c3. In fact, the work I do is just a small group of my friends and me doing work in our community. Can I still apply?
Absolutely! We’re excited to support the incredible efforts of people like you. If you are awarded a grant, you will need a fiscal sponsor such as a church or another 501(c)3 non-profit to receive funds on your behalf. If you don’t have a fiscal sponsor, you may request that The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects serve as a fiscal sponsor on your behalf.
What if I’ve never written a grant before?
No problem! We all start somewhere. This is a great place to begin your grantwriting journey. If you have any questions throughout the application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for assistance.
What if I don’t use all the funds for my project?
Any unused funds remaining at the end of the grant period must be returned to The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects. In extenuating circumstances, you may, however, request budget revisions and/or grant extensions in conversation with The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects.
When are grant application due?
Applications are accepted and rewards granted on a rolling basis.
Would you give me an example of the kind of work that’s fundable for the respective grants?
The ML Gordon Organizing Grant funds programs with a demonstrated commitment to organizing and civic engagement toward Black girls’ resistance, resilience and liberation. Examples of such work include community organizing, civic education, leadership training, mentorship, and mental health projects.
The Virginia Hamilton Storytelling Grant funds programs with a demonstrated commitment to telling the stories of Black girls’ history, power, self-actualization and liberation. Examples of such work include journalism, historical research and education, and education in creative writing and literature by Black women authors.
The Walker Fund Microgrant funds are typically distributed for reasons like the following:
I’ve never created a formal budget for an application before. How do I do that?
Great question. Creating a budget can be intimidating, but we’ve tried to make it as simple as possible. Our grant budget template has instructions, categories, line items, and formulas already in place for you. You can download the budget template here. The password to access the download is Barefootin2021. The template will download as a read-only file. Save a copy for yourself and rename it either ‘MML Gordon Grant Proposal – Your Organization’s Name’ or ‘Virginia Hamilton Storytelling Grant Proposal – Your Organization’s Name.’ Complete your budget by filling in the template, then upload your completed document when you complete your online grant application. If you have any concerns or questions during the budgeting process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If awarded, how long will it take for the grant to be awarded?
This will vary based on the amount of funding awarded, but typically organizing and storytelling funds can be dispersed within four to six weeks; microgrant funds, 72 hours.
What are my obligations, besides doing the work, for receiving grant funds?
ML Gordon and Virigina Hailton awardees will be required to complete monthly check-ins with The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects, as well as a mid- and post-project report and evaluation. Awardees will also be asked to complete trainings with The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects’ staff.
Walker Fund awardees are expected to take post-evaluation surveys; follow The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects on social media, if available; participate in focus groups, programs, when possible; and be added to the organization’s volunteer database.