Grantmaking for
Central Indiana Racial Equity Fund

Central Indiana Racial Equity Fund

Central Indiana Racial Equity Fund (CIREF) was established in June 2020 by a coalition of local stakeholders committing $2.2 million to advance effective solutions to racial inequality. Learn more about the fund.  

The fund seeks to address the inequities in our criminal legal systems that unfairly target, penalize, and disrupt the lives of Black residents in Central Indiana. During its first round, the fund awarded a total of $519,000 to 11 organizations proposing innovative solutions to address challenges Black youth involved in the criminal legal system and adults face in securing employment, completing education, and accessing food, in addition to undertaking various community-building engagements.


Before launching its final round, CIREF engaged local residents and not-for-profit leaders and explored how traditional grantmaking disproportionally affects Black neighborhoods and Black-led organizations. This engagement included two community conversations in the fall of 2020. Leaders acknowledged while program-specific funding is crucial, there are few opportunities for Black-led organizations to access funding to strengthen internal infrastructure. Leaders desirous of expanding their organizations often struggle to secure external help to write grant proposals, implement fundraising campaigns or integrate data management, evaluation, or financial management systems to monitor program performance and financial reporting.

There are limited opportunities to scale up existing work with new strategies for many organizations operating successful programs. Typical one-year grants often restrict organizations’ ability to implement and demonstrate impactful outcomes— especially in working with specific populations. Relative to organizations being positioned to scale up their work, CIREF believes leveraging social capital and building authentic partnerships with Black-led organizations help shift power in advancing large-scale collaborative opportunities to achieve transformational community outcomes.

CIREF has prioritized capacity-building for its final grantmaking round. More specifically, the fund seeks to invest in building the internal infrastructure of Black-led organizations and organizations prepared to scale up existing programs aligned with the CIREF priorities. The strategic investment in building the capacity of Black-led organizations reflects an important legacy for the fund in supporting the fight for racial and equitable justice in Central Indiana.

Geographic Area

CIREF supports work taking place in Central Indiana that includes Marion County and the surrounding Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Morgan, and Shelby Counties.

All applicants must demonstrate resident engagement for the proposed project or funding request submitted.


CIREF prioritizes building the capacity of Black-led organizations and other not-for-profits that are working to address one or more of the CIREF funding priorities:

  • improving interactions between the Black community and Central Indiana law enforcement departments and agencies
  • reducing Black representation in the juvenile and criminal justice system by providing positive alternatives for education and employment
  • increasing employment and wealth opportunity for Black communities, in particular, as it relates to matters of criminal justice, re-entry, and police interactions

In addition to looking for successful programs aligned with the CIREF priorities, the steering committee is especially interested in organizations proposing:

  • solutions to reduce the number of Black people impacted by violence and the criminal justice system by providing targeted interventions focused on perpetrators or victims of crime
  • innovative examples to address the chronic trauma and mental health needs pervasive throughout the community, recognizing some of the cultural apprehension around accessing health services
  • the integration of proven program models that build trust among residents and leverage strength from within the community to help change the current negative societal narrative characterizing Black neighborhoods

CIREF recognizes that investment in capacity-building requires more time as organizations engage in planning or implement new systems to support key areas of the organization. As a result, grant awards in both categories have been extended for up to two years.

To support the widest possible range of organizations, the steering committee established two capacity-building categories for eligible organizations.

The deadline to apply for both categories is noon on Friday, May 14.

All applicants for both categories will be notified of the steering committee’s final decisions by June 30.


Category A provides capacity-building funding specifically for Black-led organizations in Central Indiana that are currently implementing programs aligned with the CIREF priorities. Grant funds must be used to strengthen the organization’s internal infrastructure and can be used over a period of up to two years.

  • Central Indiana, Black-led 501(c)(3) organizationsEligible organizations must have a 501(c)(3) tax exempt designation OR use a fiscal sponsor that has a 501(c)(3) designation. Organizations without this particular tax exempt designation will be disqualified from consideration. 
  • The CIREF steering committee defines a Black-led organization as having a majority (50% or greater) Black board of directors and executive leadership (this includes the executive director and other senior leaders). 
  • Organizations must have experience operating a program aligned with one of the CIREF priority areas for at least three years 
  • Organizations may use a fiscal sponsor or fiscal agent to apply on their behalf but must provide information on plans to become an independent nonprofit. 
  • Organizations must have annual revenue between $25,000 and $249,999. 
  • Organizations that submitted applications in the first CIREF round may apply. 

Black-led organizations seeking to strengthen their internal infrastructure in one or more of the following areas: 

  1. Fund Development/Grants Management 
  2. Board Governance and Planning 
  3. Program Development and Evaluation 
  4. Financial Management System 
  5. Communications/Technology 

  • Grants awards range from $25,000 to $75,000 
  • There are three categories of awards: 
Annual Revenue of Organization   Total Grant Award for up to 2 years* 
$25,000- $50,000  Up to $25,000  
$50,001 – 100,000  Up to $50,000  
$100,001 - $249,999  Up to $75,000  


*Example: A total grant award of $25,000 could be used over a one-year or a two-year period. 

  1. Eligible organizations must operate at least one existing program aligned with CIREF priorities for three years or more. 
  2. Funds must be used to secure resources or expertise to improve the organization in one or more of the designated funding categories. No portion of this grant may be applied to the implementation of the program.
  3. The Fund will provide guidance to awardees in the use of capacity-building resources.
  4. Eligible organizations must submit a current board of directors list. 
  5. Awardees will be required to participate in special convenings facilitated by the Fund and provide regular reporting for the duration of the grant period.
  6. Organizations must submit current Form 990 or financial statements with the application.

  • Non-Black-led organizations 
  • Requests for organizations and programs operating outside of CIREF’s priority areas 
  • Organizations with programs operating for less than three years 
  • Funding to support the implementation of a program or service 
  • Direct awards to individuals.  


Category B is open to organizations in Central Indiana that are 1) successfully engaged in work aligned with the CIREF priorities and 2) seeking to implement a scaling strategy to achieve greater outcomes. Non-Black-led organizations may apply for Category B funding, but to encourage greater collaboration among diverse organizations, the fund requires non-Black-led organizations to partner with a Black-led organization to implement the scaling strategies.

  • Central Indiana 501(c)(3) organizations currently offering one or more programs aligned with the CIREF priority areas and seeks to scale up the workOrganizations without a 501(c)(3) tax exempt designation will be disqualified from consideration. 
  • Program(s) must have documented outcomes demonstrating the potential for greater success, if properly scaled. 
  • Organization must have annual revenue of $250,000 or greater. 
  • Non-Black-led organizations are eligible to apply, but they must partner with a Black-led organization to carry out the scaling strategy.  
  • Black-led organizations may apply as the lead and do not need to partner with other organizations, although it is highly recommended. 
  • Black-led organizations collaborating with other organizations, but not serving as the lead, may also apply for Category A.  
  • Organizations that submitted applications in the first CIREF round may apply.

Organization must select one of three scaling strategies to apply to an existing program or programs: 

  1. Service reach – organization seeks to reach more people (ideally, justice-involved youth/adults or families) 
  2. Service expansion – organization seeks to add an additional evidence-based program or service to enhance their overall program model 
  3. Service replication – organization seeks to replicate their proven/documented program in other geographic areas throughout Central Indiana. 

  • Grant awards up to $300,000 based on the annual revenue of the organization.  
  • There are two categories: 
Annual Revenue of the Organization  Total Grant Award for up to 2 years* 
$250,001 - $499,000  Up to $150,000  
$500,000 +  Up to $300,000  


*Example: A total grant award of $150,000 could be used over a one-year or a two-year period 

General Criteria 

  1. Organization must provide information on the program(s) to be scaled including alignment with the CIREF priority areas. 
  2. The program(s) to be scaled must have been in operation for three years.  
  3. The organization must build on the success of its past work and demonstrate outcomes achieved. 
  4. Organizations must describe efforts to work with and learn from people who have been systematically oppressed and/or excluded, as well as efforts to engage area residents. 
  5. Organizations will have up to two years to implement their scaling strategy. 
  6. In addition to completing the entire application, organizations must submit additional documentation including: 
  • Organization’s current board of directors list 
  • Current Form 990, financial audit or financial statements 
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with partners (if applicable) 
  • Logic model (optional)

  • Requests for projects outside of CIREF’s priority areas 
  • Organizations offering a series of activities or events versus a complete program. 
  • Applications submitted by non-Black-led organizations without a Black-led partner organization  
  • Requests for programs operating less than three years 
  •  Requests that do not directly serve or impact justice-involved youth or adults or provide opportunities that reduce and/or prevent their participation in the criminal justice system 
  • Requests that do not primarily support African-American youth and/or adults 
  • Direct awards to individuals.  

For support with the application process or questions, we have multiple opportunities to connect with us. Learn more.


All grant recipients will be required to submit a formal report to CICF upon completion of the grant and made available to the CIREF Committee for review. Grant reports may be submitted no later than December 31.

Access the report here. If awarded,  please download and complete the report form provided.

Frequently asked questions

Please read the guidelines, and if you have questions, plan to attend one of two virtual application assistance workshops that will be offered. Recognizing that this may be the first time many organizations apply for a capacity-building grant, the CIREF steering committee is taking some additional steps to provide support for all organizations interested in submitting applications, including these assistance workshops. At each virtual workshop, attendees will:

  • receive an overview of the application guidelines and instructions for submitting an application, and
  • have the opportunity to ask questions of the assistance team.

In addition to the assistance workshops, for applicants who still have questions – particularly as it pertains to completing the application—office hours will be established for applicants to attend virtual sessions with a small number of other applicants to address questions specific to their applications. All sessions will be virtual. Here are the dates and times:

Application assistance workshops:

  • 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. on April 20
  • Noon – 1: 30 p.m. on April 27

Office hours sessions:

  • Noon – 1:30 p.m. on May 4
  • 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. on May 11

We selected times during the day and evening to accommodate diverse work schedules.

Register to attend any of these opportunities here.

No. Recognizing many organizations may have similar questions regarding how they should respond to this opportunity, we will offer assistance workshops and office hours to allow maximum opportunities for individuals to raise questions or seek clarifications in lieu of scheduling individual meetings with CICF staff managing the Fund or the CIREF steering committee 

If an interested applicant does not represent a registered 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS, to ensure compliance with U.S. Code, they must partner with a 501(c)(3) organization to serve as the financial administrator for the grant. The fiscal sponsor or fiscal agent typically has no influence on use of funds and serves as a pass-through, charging a small administration fee (usually no more than 7%) for the handling of a grant on behalf of the recipient organization. The optimal fiscal sponsor/fiscal agent will be mission aligned and provide a low to no-cost solution for applicants to receive charitable contributions.

In the prior grant-making guidelines, the CIREF committee expressed interest in investing in opportunities that support Black-led organizations serving African-American youth and/or adults. Moving forward, the CIREF committee developed specific guidelines regarding the definition of Black-led organizations.  For the purpose of this grant-making round, CIREF defines a Black-led organization as having a majority (50% or greater) Black board of directors and executive leadership (this includes the executive director and other senior leaders). Applicants will be required to: 1) provide additional information regarding the race and gender of board members, executive leadership, and staff as part of the application, and 2) submit a current board list. 

Yes. Black-led organizations may apply for Category A and be included on a team for Category B as long as they are not the lead organization for the Category B application.

If an organization received an award in the first round, the organization may apply for one of the categories in this round.  An interim report for the first round grant must be submitted to prior to being considered for funding in the second round.

Yes. For organizations applying for Category B, if your application is selected as one of the finalists, members of your project team will be required to participate in an interview conducted by the CIREF steering committee.  More instructions will be provided to organizations selected as finalists. We have set the date for interviews for June 17, 2021. Organizations applying for Category A will not participate in interviews. 

We welcome additional questions the guidelines may not cover. Please submit your inquiry to  Someone from our team will review all questions and respond.

Begin your application here

For support with the application process or questions, we have multiple opportunities to connect with us. Learn more and register for one of our workshops or office hours sessions.