Equity Innovation Fund

United Way of Racine County's Equity Innovation Fund supports projects, programs and solutions that use innovative strategies to reduce disparities, improve outcomes and empower members of historically marginalized populations. The fund is made possible through the generosity of novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, and through support from Racine County.

This is a competitive fund, and requests that meet requirements are not guaranteed funding. United Way of Racine County reserves the right to adjust the fund structure at any time.

To learn more about the Equity Innovation Fund, please watch the recording below from the Equity Innovation Fund Information Session, which took place on Jan. 13, 2022. You can also download the slide deck from the presentation here.

Please note that the fund guidelines were updated in March 2023. The majority of the information from the January 2022 session remains unchanged, but applicants should refer to the most current fund guidelines, linked on this page.

The following types of entities are eligible to apply for Equity Innovation funds:

  • Grassroots organization: A community-based organization or organized group of individuals that has identified a specific issue/problem and is working collectively towards a solution.
  • Social entrepreneur or innovator: An individual, company or aspiring nonprofit with a novel solution to a social problem.
  • 501(c)(3) or 170 organizations
    • 501(c)(3) organization: Section 501(c)(3) is a portion of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and a specific tax category for nonprofit organizations. Organizations must be registered with the IRS as a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
    • 170 organization: An organization which is allowed to receive charitable contributions under Section 170(b)(1)(A). These include:
      • Churches and church associations
      • Educational institutions
      • Hospitals and medical research facilities
      • Other public institutions which receive a substantial amount of their funding from federal, state or local government.

To be eligible to apply for funds, organizations must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Serves residents of Racine County, WI. If the organization serves residents of other geographic locations, it must be able to clearly demonstrate the service to and impact on Racine County residents.
  • Able to provide (upon request) detailed, board-approved budgets and financial reports, including an audit or audited financial statements as required by State of Wisconsin Statute 202.12 (1)(b).
  • Able to serve as own fiscal agent or have a written agreement with an established 501(c)(3) or 170 organization that will serve as fiscal agent for the proposed program.
  • Has been legally incorporated for at least six months.
  • Is tax exempt as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or allowed to receive charitable contributions under Section 170(b)(1)(A).
  • Is governed by a voluntary board of directors, which has reviewed and approved the application for funding through the Equity Innovation Fund.
  • Maintains a policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity, and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Is in compliance with all community investment policies and procedures and funding agreement stipulations if currently receiving other funds from United Way of Racine County.

The Equity Innovation Fund grant application opened January 2022 and will continue to accept funding requests until further notice. Proposals will be reviewed and approved quarterly. Application due dates are the following:

  • March 31
  • June 30
  • September 30
  • December 31

Application review and approval will take place the following months:

  • April
  • July 
  • October
  • January

All potential applicants are required to meet with UWRC staff prior to applying. The meeting must be scheduled through the link on this page. Following the meeting, the application link will be provided to the potential applicant. All applications must be submitted online according to the instructions provided. Applications submitted via other means will not be accepted or reviewed. 

Requests will be reviewed by the Equity Innovation Committee (EIC) and United Way staff and approved by the United Way board. Notification of funding will be issued by the 15th of the month following application review and approval. Project/program activities must begin within 90 days of funding notification. Funds must be expended within one year of funding notification. Grantees will be required to provide quarterly updates to UWRC on program/project progress and to submit an end-of-funding report within 60 days of the project/program completion. 

Some or all of the grant award may be federal funds. All grant funds are disbursed by the Racine Community Foundation.

Application Review

The review process is conducted by the Equity Innovation Committee, United Way staff and United Way board members. If an EIC member's organization applies for Equity Innovation Fund dollars, that EIC member will disclose their conflict of interest and will refrain from voting on proposals during that funding review. Incomplete applications, applications that do not meet the eligibility requirements and applications with misalignment between the request narrative and request budget will not be considered for funding. Demonstration of timely compliance with requirements for other United Way funds will be considered when reviewing requests for the Equity Innovation Fund.

The vice president of finance and administration is responsible for monitoring expenditures form the Equity Innovation Fund and reporting them in the monthly finance reports to the board.

All requests are reviewed and monitored by EIC. Expenditures from the UWRC Equity Innovation Fund shall be approved as follows:

  • Requests up to $10,000 are approved by the president, the United Way board chair and EIC.
  • Requests for more than $10,000 are approved by EIC and either the United Way executive committee or board of directors.

Non-allowable Expenses

  • Funds cannot be used to cover expenses incurred prior to funding notification.
  • Funds cannot be used to supplant existing budgeted items (e.g. existing organization dollars for the proposed program/project cannot be displaced by United Way of Racine County Equity Innovation Fund dollars and reallocated for other organizational expenses).

Request Guidelines

  • The minimum amount for Equity Innovation Fund requests is $5,000. The maximum amount for Equity Innovation Fund requests is $75,000. We anticipate most awards will be $50,000 or below.
  • Projects/programs/solutions that rely heavily on partnership with other organizations/institutions must provide a letter of support from each partner organization stating their willingness to partner with the grantee if funds are awarded. If you are unsure if a letter of support is required for your proposal, contact United Way staff. 
  • Organizations may submit one Equity Innovation Fund request per year. Subsequent requests will not be considered if the work funded by the organization's initial requests is still in progress or if the organization failed to meet the funding and reporting requirements of its initial request.
  • Funding is available until the available Equity innovation funds are exhausted.
  • Requests for a second year of funding will be allowed by invitation only and are dependent on the results of the first grant, and the balance of the Equity Innovation Fund. No grantee is guaranteed a second year of funding.
  • Fifty percent of the grant award will be released upon execution of an MOU between United Way of Racine County, the grantee organization and their fiscal agent (if applicable). The MOU will include the project/program scope and the responsibilities and expectations of the participating entities. Remaining funds will be released according to the MOU and documentation of positive progress towards project/program implementation.
  • Unused funds and funds that are not used according to the approved project/program plan must be returned to United Way of Racine County.
  • Submission of a request that meets the fund requirements does not guarantee funding.
  • UWRC reserves the right to change the focus of the fund at any time.

Applicants must be able to clearly define:

  • The population served
  • The disparity(ies) addressed
  • What makes the project/program innovative
  • The definition of success for the project/program
  • The impact created through the funding

Projects/programs should address one or more of the following areas:

  • Early childhood and kindergarten readiness
  • K-12 academic and/or social emotional success
  • Individual independence
  • Individual and/or family stability

Budget Requirements

  • Applications with misalignment between the request narrative and request budget will not be considered for funding.
  • All fund requests are required to submit a complete and detailed budget and budget narrative.
    • Budget details should include quantities, unit costs and calculations.
  • If the total budget for the project exceeds the amount requested from UWRC, there must be clear documentation of already-secured additional funding sources to cover the difference.

Key terms

Equity, innovation and historically marginalized population are key terms related to this funding opportunity. The definitions used for these terms for the purpose of this fund are as follows:

Equity creates conditions that allow all to reach their full potential. It is just and fair inclusion. Equity is not equality.

Innovation makes changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas and products. Innovation requires knowledge, ingenuity and focus. It is newness—or renewal—and improvement. Innovation is not invention.

Historically marginalized populations are individuals, groups, and communities that have historically and systematically been—and continue to be—denied access to services, resources and power relationships across economic, political, and cultural dimensions as a result of systemic, durable, and persistent racism, discrimination and other forms of oppression. Historically marginalized populations are disproportionately affected by inequities.

Historically marginalized populations are often identified based on their race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, geography, religion, language, sexual identity, and disability status, and include members of the following groups/communities:

  • African American/Black
  • Indigenous
  • Immigrant or refugee
  • Latinx/Hispanic
  • People of color
  • Veterans
  • Women
  • Individuals with cognitive or physical differences

Apply for funding

Begin by fully and carefully reviewing all information on this page, including the information in the accordions above (click on the + icon to expand the sections). You can see the full application and reporting requirements by downloading the fund application information as a Word doc or PDFPlease note these documents were updated in March 2023. You are encouraged to download the documents now to ensure you are using the most current information available.

Proposed projects/programs must address one or more of the following areas: 

  • Early childhood and kindergarten readiness
  • K-12 academic and/or social emotional success
  • Individual independence 
  • Individual and/or family stability 

Once you've determined that your project/program idea is a good fit for the Equity Innovation Fund, spend time developing your timeline, budget (use the template available for download below!) and narrative that clearly defines: 

  • The population served
  • The disparity(ies) addressed
  • What makes the project/program innovative
  • The definition of success for the project/program
  • The impact created through the funding

From there, you're ready to request access to the application! 

To request access to the application, please first schedule a meeting with Chief Operating Officer Jessica Safransky Schacht through the button below. Be prepared to discuss your program/project idea, your project/program timeline, and your budget. 

Click here to schedule a meeting.

Once you have access to the application, please be aware of the following: The application must be completed in one sitting. Progress cannot be saved. If you navigate away from the application while in progress, you will need to begin again. You are strongly encouraged to download the fund information (linked above) to prepare your responses in advance and then copy and paste into the application webform. Paper and/or emailed applications will not be considered.

Note: The fund information (linked above) was updated in March 2023 and the budget template (linked below) was updated in August 2022. Applicants are responsible for ensuring they use current guidelines and templates. Revisions will be posted on this site with the date of update clearly noted. 

Submitting Your Budget and Proof of Entity Status

After submitting your application, you will need to separately provide a complete and detailed equity innovation budget including sources, quantities, unit costs and calculations, as well as your organization or fiscal agent's proof of IRS determination of 501(c)3 status or 170 status.

Click here to download the budget template.

Click the button above to download the budget template. Other budget forms will not be considered for review.

When you receive your automated confirmation email after submitting your application, please immediately attach your budget and 501(c)3 or 170 determination letter as a response.

Reporting requirements

All grantees will be assigned a UWRC staff member and/or volunteer who will serve as a coach, advocate and accountability partner. This individual will understand the fund requirements and will support grantees in successfully navigating project/program delivery, measurement and impact reporting. Grantees are required to meet with this person at least quarterly for the duration of the funding period. During these meetings, grantees will provide UWRC representatives with a status of update on the project/program, an overview of successes and struggles to date and any additional information pertinent to the project/program. The goal of these meetings is to provide ongoing support and assistance to grantees as they navigate implementation of their project/program using United Way Equity Innovation funds.

Grantees are required to submit a report at www.unitedwayracine.org/eif within 60 days of the completion of the project. Additional reporting requirements may be stipulated in funding agreements. Late and/or incomplete reports will negatively impact the organization's eligibility for future United Way of Racine County funding. Information included in this report will be shared with United Way staff, board and community investment volunteers and may also be included in United Way reports, media and publications, including an impact report to MacKenzie Scott.

Funded grantees: Click the button below to submit quarterly and end-of-project reports.

Click here to submit a report.

Equity Innovation Fund Grant Recipients 

April 2022 

  • Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps – Urban AgVets Educational Initiative 
    • This project aims to provide a training pathway for homeless military veterans to re-enter their community and the workforce through training and education within a context of agriculture and food production.
  • Racine Vocational Ministry –  Second Chance Reentry Program 
    • This project aims to reduce recidivism and re-incarceration and increase gainful employment of women and BIPOC as they re-enter the community following a period of incarceration.
  • Racine Zoo – Community Outreach Zoo Initiative (COZI)
    • This program aims to increase social-emotional self-awareness, morale and empathetic behaviors over a ten-month period through regular animal visits to Bethany Apartments and HALO.
  • SAFE Haven of Racine – Feather-a-Nest 
    • This program aims to support individuals referred by a partner agency who are moving from homelessness to permanent, stable housing by providing items needed to furnish their new homes.
  • The Blue Way, Inc.  – The Dental Backpack
    • This project aims to reduce the number of economically disadvantaged school-age children in Racine with untreated dental caries or other easily treatable oral health problems.
  • The Passions Project – The Passions Project | LGBTQ+ Racine 
    • This project aims to raise awareness, ignite social change, increase community understanding and broaden the inclusion and visibility of the Racine LGBTQ+ population by capturing the stories and passions of local multigenerational queer persons through an art-based, community impact photo installation.
  • Urban League of Racine and Kenosha – Urban Sports Academy 
    • This project aims to teach youth basic reading, math, conflict resolution and de-escalation tactics using a sports-oriented platform.
  • Women’s Resource Center of Racine, Inc. – Legal Advocacy Services for Victims and Survivors 
    • This program aims to support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other interpersonal violence who need consultation regarding legal matters.

July 2022

  • SecureFutures – SecureFutures Money Coach
    • This program aims to provide teens from under-resourced communities with the coaching and guidance needed to develop strong money management habits and long-term financial capability.

October 2022

  • BeLEAF Survivors – Project RESPECT
    • This project will use a multi-tiered approach that will focus on prevention, intervention and educational strategies to address sexual violence rates in LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Fight to End Exploitation – Bridging the Gap for Human Trafficking Victim Resources in Racine County
    • This project targets marginalized populations to increase the level of awareness regarding human trafficking that is culturally appropriate and readily accessible with an aim to assure high-risk populations can access resources to help prevent human trafficking.
  • LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin – Colorful and Connected
    • The project aims to support and empower individuals that live in the intersectionality of being both a person of color and part of the LGBTQ+ community.