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Not Accepting Grant Applications Currently

Barefootin’ Leadership Consortium is not currently accepting grant applications right now. If you have questions about fiscal sponsorship or joining the consortium as a member, email

“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.” 

Unita BlackwellCivil Rights activist and the first Black woman elected mayor in Mississippi, writes in her memoir, “Barefootin’ Lessons on the Road to Freedom”

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. 

MLG Organizing Grant

The ML Gordon Organizing Grant is named after 20th century Black nationalist activist and southern organizer Mittie Maude Lena Gordon. (Read more about Gordon aquí.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. 

Virginia Hamilton Storytelling Grant

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 aquí.) 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.

El Fondo Walker

El Fondo Walker 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:

  1. Evitar que la gente (principalmente las niñas y mujeres negras) busque préstamos de instituciones de préstamo depredadoras ofreciendo una alternativa.
  2. Hasta $500 subvenciones en un período de 12 meses
  3. Upon completion of an application exhibiting short-term financial needs via the online form, hard copy or, if necessary, over the phone, applicants will receive funding within 72 hours

Los requisitos del programa, la elegibilidad y las expectativas de asistencia financiera han sido demasiado restrictivos para ayudar a los pobres. Es fácil para los pobres negros, en particular, quedar atrapados en las trampas de la deuda. A menudo, los programas que tienen la intención de ayudar facilitan limitaciones duras, miopes y racistas en el alcance de las microdonaciones destinadas a ayudar a las personas con problemas reales (en los raros casos en que están a disposición de las personas).

Aunque los requisitos del Fondo Walker no son gratuitos para todos, son menos estrictos que los que podrían ofrecer las instituciones bancarias formales. Esta flexibilidad es un intento de crear condiciones para ayudar a la gente a salir del bache financiero.


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:  

  1. Be awarded a Barefootin’ Leadership Consortium grant through our normal grant application and award process
  2. Completa this request form for fiscal sponsorship by The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects
  3. Receive approval for fiscal sponsorship by The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects’ Board of Directors
  4. Sign a written grant agreement that sets forth:
    1. all the terms and conditions that apply to the project’s use of grant funds and its relationship to funding sources;
    2. that the sponsor (here, The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects) retains complete control and discretion over any contributions it receives;
    3. performance, reporting, and evaluation requirements for the project;
    4. the right of the sponsor to withhold return of grant funds, if performance and other contractual requirements are not met;
    5. the sponsor’s right to redirect said funds to another individual or program who can complete the work if contractual requirements are not met 

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  

Understanding Fiscal Sponsorship

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.

What Is Fiscal Sponsorship?

Said succinctly: Fiscal sponsorship is a means for an organization to act as a host and share its 501(c)(3) status with an unincorporated initiative engaged in activities that serve the host’s mission. (This is also sometimes done with an organization with 501(c)(3) status but little infrastructure.) The 501(c)(3) designation is a provision of the United States Internal Revenue Code that allows federal income tax exemption for nonprofit organizations, specifically public charities, private foundations, or private operating foundations. Though any corporation, trust, or LLC can apply for 501(c)(3) determination, the majority of 501(c)(3) organizations are nonprofits.

Fiscal sponsorship allows an entity that might not otherwise be able to receive grants and tax-exempt donations from the government, philanthropic organizations, and individuals. For Black-led and Black-centered organizations, fiscal sponsorship is a critical system, as it helps us overcome some hardships unique to us. Here are a few statistics:

● According to an analysis by Bridgespan, the unrestricted net assets available to Black-led organizations are 76% lower than those available to non-Black organizations. The average percentage of their revenue was less than half. In addition, organizations led by and centering Black women consistently receive less funding than organizations led by Black men and non-Black people.

● Black leaders often don’t have access to the social networks necessary to connect with high-dollar-giving individuals or organizations. This lack of access is a hindrance because many nonprofit initiatives rely on trust and community.

● Many Black-led organizations experience increases in funding in times of crisis and/or hyperawareness (e.g., Black History Month). Smaller nonprofits—formal and informal—lack the infrastructure and resources to best leverage a sudden but limited influx of capital from well-meaning philanthropic sources.

It isn’t uncommon for Black-led organizations to need additional support getting started. Despite what internalized oppression may suggest, there’s no shame in it. A project can gain the capital, connections and administrative resources necessary to function by applying for fiscal sponsorship. With such sponsorship, projects can be launched more quickly and attract charitable donations without the need for starting a nonprofit, waiting to obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status or building necessary cache (e.g., infrastructure and connections) from the ground up. Fiscal sponsorship also serves as a viable alternative to starting a nonprofit for initiatives and charitable endeavors with a short life span.

Considerations to Make for Fiscal Sponsorship

There are factors and obligations both the fiscal sponsor and fiscally sponsored party have to take into consideration before entering into a sponsor relationship. First, sponsors must ensure serving as a fiscal sponsor for a project aligns with their mission. Failing to do so can jeopardize the sponsor’s tax-exempt status. This provision is especially the case if the sponsor pledged any of the following:

● Not to devote a substantial portion of its resources to influencing political legislation;
● Not to operate for the benefit of any private interests;
● Not to participate in political campaigns on behalf of, or opposed to, a candidate for public office;
● Not to engage in activities considered illegal or that violate fundamental public policies.

There must also be a consideration for the sponsored party about whether a sponsor will align with their goals. For many Black-led initiatives, sponsors need to understand the role race plays in the problems they are addressing. In the case of The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects, both race and gender lenses are essential. Philanthropy discussions often miss how bringing an intentional, sustained, and explicit focus to addressing racial and gender disparities is vital to uplifting Black-led organizations.

When entering a fiscal sponsorship, both parties agree to specific terms. Depending on the model of sponsorship chosen, the sponsor may be responsible for:
● Receiving and acknowledging charitable donations, then pass them to the sponsored party;
● Handling bookkeeping, tax returns, and other administrative duties as necessary;
● Engaging in regular communication with the fiscally sponsored organization;
● Requesting the appropriate financial reports and records to fulfill legal oversight.

Meanwhile, to receive fiscal sponsorship, the sponsored party may have to agree to:
● Disclose to donors it has;
● Contribute credibility to the 501(c)(3) status of its project;
● Pay necessary administrative fees;
● Comply with recordkeeping and reports as requested by the sponsor;
● Engage in regular communication with the sponsor.

Again, each of these responsibilities and obligations may change depending on the model of sponsorship sought by both parties. Now you’re wondering what the models of fiscal sponsorship are.

Models of Fiscal Sponsorship

There are several ways to structure fiscal sponsorships. Each model represents the ways that a project can benefit from a sponsor. One note is that though these models are structures designed to comply with legal requirements, they haven’t been formally established by the IRS or any other legal agencies. Let’s go over them.

MODEL A (Direct Sponsorship)
Model A fiscal sponsorship is a “direct approach” style. The sponsor takes comprehensive responsibility for the projects, making the sponsored party a part of its organization. In a legal sense, the sponsor carries out the project activities directly, assuming liability for and paying any bills or expenses related to the sponsored party’s activities. If members of the sponsored group are getting paid, they do so as employees of the sponsor. If members of the sponsored group are volunteers, they are considered volunteers working directly for the sponsor.

MODEL B (Independently Contracted Sponsorship)
This model is similar to model A in that a sponsoring company takes over the fiduciary and administrative responsibilities of the sponsored party. But in model B, the sponsor turns control of the project over to an independent third party that the sponsor commissions to produce results. In addition, the sponsor retains and pays the contractor with donated funds, and the contractor remains responsible for its income and pays for expenses.

The sponsor can “commission” the sponsored party to carry out its programs in some cases. The sponsored party will usually form a separate legal entity to limit liabilities.

MODEL C (Pre-Approved Grant Sponsorship)
Model C occurs when the sponsor and the sponsored party enter a grantor-grantee relationship. This model can be a one-time relationship, allowing the sponsored party access to the proceeds from a private foundation or donor via a sponsor. It can also be an ongoing relationship where a sponsor raises funds from the government or philanthropic entities to provide occasional grants to the sponsored party. With an ongoing relationship, the sponsored party would provide grant reports to the sponsor to ensure the funds received from the grants are put toward the project expenses discussed in the grant agreement.

In both limited and long-term scenarios, the sponsored party’s projects do not become the sponsor’s responsibility. Instead, the sponsored party remains a separate legal entity, responsible for its own administrative and fiscal duties.

Models A, B, and C are the most common forms of fiscal sponsorship. In these models, the sponsor receives charitable donations and funds to use as its assets, making those assets available to the sponsored party while maintaining control, responsibility, or discretion. However, they aren’t the only models that support fiscal sponsorship.

MODEL D (Group Exemption)
With model D sponsorship, multiple sponsored parties are gathered under the sponsor. This action allows them to receive deductible funds directly from donors in their name. In addition, the sponsor serves as the “head” of a group exemption granted by the IRS and can confer 501(c)(3) status on each sponsored party that remains a separate legal entity but is affiliated with the sponsor in specific ways.

MODEL F (Technical Assistance)
As part of model F sponsorship, the sponsored party has its own 501(c)(3) status, and its donated funds are handled in the name of the sponsored party. However, financial management duties are the responsibility of the sponsor. These duties include payroll, tax returns, human resources, bookkeeping, and other primary administrative services.

MODEL L (Limited Liability Company)
This model allows a sponsor to serve as the sole owner of a charitable limited liability company (LLC). Like model A, as a single-member LLC, the sponsored party is treated as part of the sponsor for tax-exemption reporting purposes.

However, the sponsored party can receive tax-deductible donations and grants in its own name like a subordinate organization under a model D sponsorship. In addition, the LLC structure protects the sponsor from any liability arising from the projects and activities of the sponsored party due to its existence as a separate legal entity.

Creating an organization to do good in the world can be difficult, especially for people of color. If you want to start a nonprofit but don’t know where to begin, you may need someone to help illuminate your path. The Barefootin’ Leadership Consortium can be that light.

Create time and space for and uplifting Black, indigenous, and other girls, women, and gender-expansive folks of color, the Consortium connects members to a network that allows them access to grants, 501(c)(3) status, and the support they need.


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:

  1. You are a person of color (priority is given to girls and women)
  2. You are at least 18 years of age
  3. You live in the Southeastern U.S. 

And you are eligible to apply for an ML Organizing or Virginia Hamilton Storytelling grant, if the following is true:

  1. Your program/non-profit works especially toward the benefit of Black girls and/or women (including non-binary and gender-expansive persons) ages 7-24
  2. Your program/non-profit is in the Southeastern United States
  3. Priority will be given to programs/non-profits led by Black women and/or other women of color.

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 or 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?

El 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.

El 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.

El Walker Fund Microgrant funds are typically distributed for reasons like the following: 

  1. Tuition assistance for applicants or their child
  2. Vivienda, alquiler, servicios públicos
  3. Comida y comestibles
  4. Transporte
  5. Cuentas médicas y dentales
  6. Cuidado de niños
  7. Emergencias y circunstancias imprevistas
  8. Multas y gastos legales
  9. Desarrollar y ampliar el desarrollo de la fuerza de trabajo juvenil

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

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 y 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. 

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