Young Leaders Grants

It is the belief of the Grassroots Fund that the involvement and leadership of young adults (defined as up to 25 years old) in environmental justice community organizing is a critical component in fulfilling the Grassroots Fund’s mission of creating sustainable communities. The Young Leaders grant program seeks to support initiatives that allow young adults to design, lead, and engage a community-based effort from inception.

Young Leaders Program Eligibility Criteria:

  • Is volunteer-driven or has no more than 2 full-time paid staff (or equivalents);
  • The proposed project has an annual operating budget of $175,000 or under
  • Is doing community-based work in CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, or VT
  • Incorporate Grassroots Fund issue areas, and are young adult-led.

If your project does not fit within these guidelines, but you still believe it should be considered in this round, please email [email protected] to discuss further.

The Grassroots Fund defines young adult led projects as:

  • Efforts led by young adults between the ages of 15-25 years old;

  • Existing projects that are seeking to substantively incorporate young adults into governance and program design/delivery

Meaningful Youth Leadership

We strive to leave our definition of “youth leadership” open and flexible to the contexts in which grassroots groups work. When evaluating youth leadership within applications, we are looking for projects in which young people are in a relationship to the project that goes beyond them being recipients of service. We want to see how their ideas and input are at the forefront of the project.

Generally, we are hoping to fund youth-led work, rather than fund non-youth working for youth. But we recognize that this is a gray area, especially when considering the supportive role that non-youth can play in creating the structures for youth leadership to thrive. For some groups, this will look like a non-youth led group inviting youth to design and lead a program or project with autonomy, while others may be projects from organizations run by young people from the start. Whatever the unique process of engagement is, we are looking for applications that can clearly state how young leaders are able to lead. Challenging adultism - the cultural practices that tell us that ideas from adults are inherently better or more practical - requires allowing the ideas of youth to be expressed and explored without overbearing advisement.

In addition to these criteria, these applications will be reviewed through our participatory decision-making process according to the Grassroots Fund Guiding Values.

Application Process

Applications completed by young adults involved with the project are strongly encouraged, and we welcome your feedback on how to make our applications more accessible. Before submitting an application, all applicants must submit an (online) Letter of Inquiry (LOI) - a short description of your program or project.

Deadline(s)

  • March 1 - LOI Deadline & application reader registration deadline
  • March 15 - LOI decisions & proposal invitations sent
  • April 15 - proposal deadline
  • May 6-24 - applicant Interviews
  • June 10-11 - grantmaking committee review meeting 
  • June 19 - decisions announced

Final Reports

2018 Young Leaders Grantees must submit a Final Report before reapplying. Click here to submit a Final Report for the Young Leaders Grant.

Apply to Serve on the Young Leaders Grant Making Committee

We believe that we make better decisions on where and how to allocate resources if we get a broad range of perspectives and experiences weighing in. We, therefore, invite all of you to join us in March and April as an application reader and commit around 8 hours (stretched out over a 3 week period) of reading 7 to 10 online applications and give us your feedback. We have a rubric system to help structure feedback and offer a 1-hour webinar ahead of review to explain the system and review our guiding values. 

Click here to register as a grant reader

Submit Letter of Interest