Throughout our recent sprint challenge and community discussions, we heard a common refrain. Grassroots groups are persevering yet struggling — courageously serving their communities in the midst of a pandemic, even as funding dwindles.
The message from our members is clear. Our movement requires resources. It will take a sustained effort to resolve the severe funding shortage. But as a first step, small infusions of flexible funding will help grassroots justice organizations make critical adjustments to their work.
For this reason, we are excited to launch the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund. The fund will provide small grants for grassroots justice defenders working to respond to and rebuild from the pandemic.
To ensure a just and equitable recovery, COVID-19 response packages — whether governmental or philanthropic — must include support for the essential work of legal empowerment. With help from the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund, grantees will be able to demonstrate how modest investments in legal empowerment efforts can bear powerful results.
The Legal Empowerment Network is partnering with The Elders, Namati, Justice for All, the Fund for Global Human Rights, and the Pathfinders for Just and Inclusive Societies to raise US$1 million for the fund.
The nearly 500 organizations who have participated in the Legal Empowerment Network’s COVID-19 Justice Challenge and other COVID-19 activities will be eligible for the initial round of funding. These network members will receive a separate email later this week with application instructions. If more funds become available in the future, we hope to open up the call to others.
We understand that the needs of our members are many. The COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund is one of several ways in which the Legal Empowerment Network is responding to members’ needs during this critical time. We are working hard as a community of grassroots justice defenders to mobilize long-term funding for legal empowerment work through a variety of channels. To take part in these efforts, join our Justice for All campaign. In the meantime, check out this list of funding opportunities that we have developed for network members. Also, stay tuned for a number of capacity-building and networking initiatives that are in the works.
We hope that the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund, and more to come, will help our movement as a whole to build a more just world in the aftermath of the pandemic.