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Spruce Foundation is offering a new ‘peacebuilding’ grant. Here’s what that means

Eliza Pollack. January 11, 2017 Category: FeatureFeaturedFundingMedium
After the 2016 presidential election, “there were a lot of people with a lot of feelings about a lot of things,” Spruce Foundation President Eliza Pollack said diplomatically. That’s one way to put it — but where does Philly’s activist community go from here?

For the millennial-led, youth-targeted Spruce Foundation celebrating its 10th anniversary, it seemed like the perfect time for a brand-new grant category: “peacebuilding.”

For the last decade, Spruce has been making four annual grants totaling $20,000 to local nonprofits. That’s $5,000 each for organizations doing work in four grant categories: arts, education, LGBTQ, and health and wellness. (Learn about the 2016 winners here.) Now, an additional $5,000 will be awarded in this new category.

But what does peacebuilding mean to Spruce? The possibilities are deliberately broad, Pollack said.

“One of the things we’re really excited about with peacebuilding is to see how other folks interpret what that means,” she said. “You hope that people can interpret it broadly, so we can see a really cool, rich cross-section in this ‘peacebuilding’ space in Philadelphia.”

To Spruce, organizations eligible for a peacebuilding grant could be reaching for better cultural and racial understanding — “increasing and enhancing communication and relationships between communities that might not often feel like they have their voice heard.”

That could be local programs that address racial disparities or relationships between police and communities, or work to teach tolerance practices to youth.

Spruce Grantmaking Chair Jeannette Rowland said the organization has been enthusiastically meeting many questions about the kind of projects they’re looking for with the new grant.

“We have received applications for it and gotten a good amount of interest around it,” Rowland said. “It’s been positively received.”

Spruce’s usual guidelines apply to the peacebuilding grant: Nonprofits with an annual budget exceeding $300,000 should target a particular program with their applications, while those running on less than $300,000 a year are eligible for general operating dollars.

The Spruce board also reserves the right to shift applications into different grant categories: “People might be doing peacebuilding and not even know it,” Pollack said.

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The foundation is accepting 2017 grant applications through Monday, Jan. 16. Winners will be announced in early March.

“There have been some really wonderful, really powerful and passionate people and organizations that have sprung up in Philly over the past few months,” Erickson said, but these nascent peacebuilders aren’t getting a lot of structured attention. “It seemed like a really unique niche for us to fit into.”

Spruce’s final information session for the 2017 grant cycle will take place at 6:15 p.m. tonight at Penn Square’s La Colombe.

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