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.

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 this fund, please register for a virtual informational session on Jan. 13 at: https://conta.cc/3mrdcz9

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 opens January 2022. 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

Official opening of the grant pool will take place on January 1, 2022. Applications must be submitted online . All applicants are required to meet with UWRC staff to receive access to the application. 

Requests will be reviewed by the Equity Innovation Committee (EIC), United Way staff and United Way board members. 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Apply for funding

This 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. If you wish to prepare your answers in advance, you can download the fund application information as a Word doc or PDF for reference.

Make sure to speak to a UWRC staff member about your application/idea before starting your application.

All applications begin with the same eligibility screening questions, organization information, fiscal agent information, general questions and terms and conditions.

Note: The fund information (linked above) and the budget template (linked below) were updated in late 2021. Applicants are responsible for ensuring they use current guidelines and templates.

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.

Please download our budget template to fill out. 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.

How to download budget template/fund application information:

  • Click on the link to start the download.
  • If the file does not automatically download, right click on it and select "save as..." then follow the instructions.

To learn more about this fund, please register for a virtual informational session on Jan. 13 at: https://conta.cc/3mrdcz9

To apply for funding, please first schedule a meeting with Chief Operating Officer Jessica Safransky Schacht through the button below.

A yellow button that reads apply

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.

A light blue button that says "start."