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Equity Collective Initiative

We believe that communities have the inherent ability to identify and solve their own challenges when they are equipped with the decision-making power, infrastructure and financial capital to do so. Organizations led by people of color – who are deeply rooted in health equity and racial justice – have not historically been afforded the same access to resources to sustain their work and build power. The Foundation’s Equity Collective Initiative will put these resources in the hands of organizations – that are led by people of color – to advance health equity and build power in community through approaches they determine on their own.

Through the Initiative, the Foundation will provide one-time investment awards – ranging from $750,000 to $1,500,000 – to selected organizations to develop their own approaches and long-term direction to drive health equity and racial justice work forward.

This is not a conventional grant program, nor is it intended to support programmatic or project-oriented work. Rather, this Initiative is intended to seed organizations and better resource them to build power within and across the communities they serve.

Read below to learn more about the Equity Collective Initiative. The deadline to apply for this investment opportunity is Tuesday, Aug. 10. 

Investments will be awarded to community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofits and groups with a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor.* Organizations considered for an investment will deeply align with and reflect the following characteristics:

  • Strongly aligned with the Foundation’s mission and cornerstones.

  • Community-based and grassroots organizations that are based in Colorado and focus specifically on Colorado communities.
  • Have existing work that is deeply rooted in health equity and racial justice efforts.
  • Led by people of color
    • These organizations have a governing and implementation body (board, executive leadership, staff, etc.) who are predominantly people of color—Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Indigenous/Native American and multiracial communities— and their purpose is to center, improve the lives of and uplift that specific population.
  • Clearly demonstrated credibility, trust and historical connections with communities they exist to serve.
  • Positioned to conduct and advance work “with” and “by” communities they exist to serve, and a track record of collaborative and constructive approaches within and across communities to advance health equity and racial justice. 
  • Demonstrated strategic thinking on organization mission and purpose. The Foundation is not requesting a strategic plan, but instead want to understand the strategic thinking about the role and intent of the organization’s long-term work to advance health equity and racial justice.
  • Demonstrated capacity to engage in and advance self-determined approaches to put investment award to use in advancing health equity and racial justice.
  • Minimum organizational budget of $100,000 or a minimum $100,000 budget for fiscally-sponsored projects.
  • An interest, openness and commitment to engaging in a participatory review process.
  • Commitment to transparency, openness and reciprocal relationship with The Colorado Health Foundation and other community partners, as well as a high tolerance for risk of unknowns in the context of a fluid, participant-driven effort.

*The Initiative is focused on community-based and grassroots organizations. Public agencies, grantmaking foundations and intermediary funders, 501(c)(4)s, universities and colleges, school districts, trade associations and for-profit entities will not be considered.

Examples of long-term strategies and approaches the Initiative intends to support include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating an endowment to achieve financial sustainability and support organization’s long-term health equity and racial justice efforts.

  • Building cash reserves to stabilize and scale up organizational capacity.

  • Long-term investments such as real estate acquisition to build financial equity, create stability and/or expand revenue streams.

  • Other financial tools to leverage lending power and/or other institutional investments.

At least 80% of the investment award will be designated for long-term investment strategies such as the examples above, and up to 20% may be used to support operational costs.

Note: The Foundation will not provide funding for debt retirement.

Note: Applying for or receiving an Equity Collective Initiative investment award does not preclude organizations from pursuing other opportunities for funding through the Foundation.

The Foundation’s Role in the Initiative 

We envision the Equity Collective Initiative as a long-term effort that will be sustained, at minimum, for five years. Organizations applying for this effort should already be deeply rooted in health equity and racial justice efforts, and prepared to partner with the Foundation for years to come.

In addition to the investment awards, the Foundation will provide selected organizations with responsive wraparound support and technical assistance. The Foundation’s role in the Initiative will decline over time, as the groups in the collective continue to take ownership of their work within and across individual organizations. Collaboration and partnerships will not be forced on or required of organizations, but space and opportunities to do so will be created, supported and fostered over time. Additionally, the Foundation will continue to partner with organizations in the Initiative to leverage additional investments that will support long-term organizational and community needs.

Application Review Process and Timeline

The review and selection process for the Initiative will include three phases.

  1. Initial review of applications will be conducted by Foundation staff. A narrowed pool of prospective applicants who strongly align with the above characteristics will be formed at this time, and will advance on to the second phase of review.  
  2. The second phase of review will include the pool of applicants selected to be involved in both deeper discussions with Foundation staff and in a participatory review process** where applicants will have the opportunity to share their perspectives on which groups should be selected for investment awards.
  3. Final investment award decisions*** will be made by November 2021. Selected organizations will receive their investment awards by mid-December 2021. Organizations that participate in the second phase who are not selected for an investment award will be eligible to receive funding to support their infrastructure, capacity and equity work. 

** By completing and submitting an Equity Collective Initiative application, you as the applicant organization are agreeing to participate in the review process, if selected. Your application and other supporting materials will be shared with other eligible applicants as part of the participatory review for this Initiative, if selected. We anticipate participating organizations will need to contribute approximately 8-12 hours of their time in September and October 2021 for a two-part virtual meeting and application review. 

*** Final decisions about which organizations receive investment awards will be informed by the participatory review process and Foundation staff review.

Evaluation Activities

As part of this investment opportunity, the Foundation will partner with an external evaluator, and selected organizations will need to participate in activities related to this evaluation. The specific approach to the evaluation is still being developed, but we anticipate that each year we will ask for selected organizations to participate in evaluation activities such as evaluation design, interviews, surveys, etc. Evaluation activities will require no more than a few hours each year.


  • Health equity: Exists when there are no unnecessary, avoidable, unfair, unjust or systemically-caused differences in health status.

  • POC led by: These organizations have a governing and implementation body (board, executive leadership, staff, etc.) who are predominantly people of color—Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Indigenous/Native American and multiracial communities—and their purpose is to center, improve the lives of and uplift that specific population.
  • Power: At its core, power is defined the ability 1) to do something or act in a particular way and 2) to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
  • Racial justice: Racial justice exists when there is not only the absence or alteration of systems that create and perpetuate racial disparities in areas including health, education and wealth, but the presence of a transformed and fundamentally different systems that operate on behalf and inclusive of communities of color.

We encourage all applicants to connect with us before applying and sign up in our grants portal a week in advance of submitting an application. The deadline to submit your application is 5 p.m. MT on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.