Announcing the 2017 Seed Fund Grantees

Every spring, a committee of RSF staff comes together to decide on the year’s Seed Fund grant recipients. In 2017, we received more than eighty applications from organizations doing much-needed work to improve their communities and the environment. Our team of RSF staff reviewers, which changes each year, can attest to the challenging nature of the selection process. Despite the many exciting proposals we receive annually, we can award funding only to a select few.

Applications came to us from across the country—Alaska to Rhode Island—on behalf of organizations providing an array of services for the benefit of their local and regional communities. This year’s proposals included community gardens serving disadvantaged populations, refugee resettlement programs, light pollution surveys that protect migratory birds, and many other impactful projects.

The RSF Seed Fund makes grants to new initiatives, projects, and programs in amounts ranging from $500 to $3,500, in the fields of food and agriculture, ecological stewardship, education and the arts, and social finance. The review committee, drawn from teams across the organization, review the applications, allowing colleagues with different perspectives and areas of expertise to weigh in on the decision-making. Not only does this allow for diverse opinions, but it also encourages a consensus approach in selecting the grantees.

The process begins with the selection of staff participants to the review committee, with priority given to those who have not participated in past rounds. Committee members are then trained on the mechanics of scoring applications and record their scores based on a predetermined set of criteria. Once all scores are tabulated, the group reconvenes to deliberate and decide the finalists.

According to one member, the challenge of choosing grantees highlighted how “subjective and nonlinear” philanthropy can be. That’s why our committee’s prime goal is to assure that the fund is truly catalytic, awarding the grants where they will be able to make the greatest impact amongst the various projects. This year’s grantees exemplify the cross-sector approach we embrace here at RSF.

Congratulations to the 2017 RSF Seed Fund grantees! The seven awardees are:

Anchorage re: Made (Anchorage, AK)

empowers people to find their talents and grow their skills to achieve their dreams through a combination of education, supportive relationships, and positive life changes.

Brookwood Community Farm (Canton, MA)

is an organization that creates community through a shared passion for agriculture, fresh local food, and a commitment to increasing access to healthy food. Brookwood grows food sustainably through a community supported agriculture (CSA) model, provides on and off-farm educational opportunities, and actively creates and supports food access projects.

Garden Time (Providence, RI)

provides garden programs for incarcerated men and women at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions (RI ACI). Through gardening, they foster education, inspiration, and empowerment; teach inmates to grow food for economic and personal self-reliance; and connect participants with opportunities that enable permanent re-entry into society. Garden Time operates gardens at three facilities at the RI ACI providing over 1,800 inmates with fresh produce while offering men and women who have had limited success in their lives the chance to gain confidence, acquire important life skills, and experience hope.

Kelly Street Garden (Bronx, NY)

grows food and community by creating a hub where Longwood/Hunts Point residents in the South Bronx can grow and share free, fresh produce and plug into activities that improve physical, mental, social, and financial well-being. They create this hub by being responsive to community needs, fostering community leadership, and opening economic opportunities whenever possible.

Legacy Grace (Lakewood, CO)

is an organization committed to enhancing and creating affordable housing and economic opportunities, and restoring lives in and around Jefferson County, Colorado. Legacy Grace also runs the Miracle Street Gallery, which offers a unique opportunity for disadvantaged people to participate in, and earn money through, the arts.

Raising Voices! (Detroit, MI)

is a Detroit-based, process-oriented non-profit film collective that leverages documentary film as a means to honor the history of, promote the well-being of, and create visibility for LGBTQI people of color. The collective is founded on the belief that all people deserve the opportunity to tell their own stories. They use archival footage, contemporary performances, and personal stories to make visible the contributions of LGBTQI people of color to greater society.

Supreme MCs Rule Hip-Hop Expression Program (Augusta, GA)

seeks to improve social and economic outcomes for K-12 youth. Using the elements of hip-hop, the organization fosters self-expression, emotional intelligence, and social skills. Supreme MCs Rule is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas.


Thank you to all the applicants for your participation in the RSF Seed Fund! If you would like to support RSF’s grantmaking efforts, please consider contributing to the Seed Fund through our website.

Afsana is a program associate on RSF’s philanthropic services team.

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