Participatory Grantmaking

We invite our community to join us as active participants in our grantmaking process. Applications are now being accepted-due July 1, 2016.

Maine Initiatives takes an expansive view of who is and who can be a community philanthropist. This view is rooted in our conviction that money is only one of the many resources and assets that our community possesses for advancing justice and equity.

In 2016, we are adopting a broadly participatory grantmaking process that will permit us to identify, mobilize, and leverage key non-financial resources by engaging and connecting the members of our community around our mission and in our work.

Get Involved: Participate in Our Grantmaking Process

We invite our community to join us as active participants in our grantmaking process in one of two ways:

  • Become a Reader: 5 to 9 hours at home commitment (August 2016)
  • Join the Grantmaking Committee: 5 to 9 hours at home commitment (August 2016) and 2 day in person commitment (September 2016)

 Applications are now live. Click here to complete the form.

Readers- Help Us Evaluate Proposals:

The initial phase of the grantmaking process is the proposal evaluation phase. We invite our stakeholders, grantees, donors, and members of the broader community to volunteer to serve as proposal readers. Each volunteer will receive training in our grantmaking program, our thematic focus, and the proposal evaluation process; and will be asked to read and evaluate approximately three proposals. These evaluations may be done at home or online, permitting participation by a wide-range of people.

  • Who can be a proposal reader? Anyone! No experience necessary. All proposal readers will receive training and guidance about the proposal evaluation process, the evaluation criteria, and the online system. Applications will be available starting June 1, 2016.
  • What level of time commitment is required? Each proposal will require approximately one to two hours to read, assess, and score. Proposal readers will be asked to review approximately three proposals.
  • What if I am a board member, staff member, or otherwise affiliated with an applicant organization? That’s okay! We are deeply committed to eliminating conflicts of interest in this process. Each Reader will be asked to share any possible conflicts of interest in the application process. Maine Initiatives staff will make every effort to structure participation in such a way that avoids any real or perceived conflicts of interest.
  • How will reader evaluations be used? Reader evaluations (both comments and ratings) will individually and collectively inform subsequent activity by staff and decision making by the Grantmaking Committee members.

Applications are now being accepted. Click here to complete the form. 

Committee Members- Help Choose our Grantee Cohort:

The second phase of the grantmaking process will be led by a community-based Grantmaking Committee that brings together perspectives representing the full range of our stakeholders: grantees, board members and advisors, donors, and other voices from the broader community in Maine. Members of this Committee will be selected through an open nomination process from the pool of Readers, facilitated by the Maine Initiatives staff and Board.

Participation in the Grantmaking Committee is a unique opportunity to engage in intensive exploration of the themes of racial justice and racial equity and to shape the Grants for Change 2016 grantee cohort. Members of the grantmaking committee will commit to an intensive participatory process of learning and engagement related to our theme, and decision-making about our 2016 Grants for Change. In addition to making funding recommendations to Maine Initiatives’ Board, committee members will be invited to participate in a process of networking, training, capacity-building and collective learning around issues of racial justice and racial equity in Maine.

How will the Grantmaking Committee operate? All grantmaking committee members will first participate as proposal readers. After the reading period the full grantmaking committee will convene over the course of two-days for a workshop retreat in September 2016 that combines opportunities for shared learning about issues of racial justice and racial equity as well as a participatory deliberative and decision-making process about our grants.

The workshop will be structured around four distinct objectives:

  • Community building and networking:  We put a priority on the power that a networked community can have in addressing the challenging issues of racial justice and racial equity. In response, we will emphasize community building throughout the Grantmaking retreat. We hope that Committee Members leave the two-day program having formed strong bonds with many fellow participants, strengthening our state’s progressive community and our ability to respond in coordinated, collaborative, and creative ways to justice and equity challenges.
  • Training and capacity-building around issues of racial justice and racial equity: We recognize that racial justice and racial equity are complex social, economic, and historical concepts. For this reason, we are building into the grantmaking process an explicit commitment to training and capacity-building related to these themes.
  • Co-creation of knowledge and collective learning about racial justice and racial equity in Maine: We also recognize that there exists in our community incredible knowledge, experience, relationships, and expertise about racial justice and racial equity that can be brought to bear for our collective benefit. For this reason, we will also incorporate explicit opportunities for the grantmaking committee to identify and connect around their native wisdom.  
  • Discussion, deliberation, and decision-making about our Racial Justice and Racial Equity grants: Fundamental to the grantmaking process is a broadly democratic practice that engages a range of voices and perspectives in our decision-making. To this end, we will engage the committee in a collective and collaborative process of reviewing, evaluating and deciding who should receive the 2016 Grants for Change funds.

At the conclusion of the two-day grantmaking committee retreat, the committee will make formal funding recommendations to Maine Initiatives’ Board of Directors regarding the proposals. The Board of Directors, as the fiduciary authority, will make the final funding decisions based on the committee recommendations.

Additional Questions about the Grantmaking Committee

  • Who is eligible to serve on the grantmaking committee? All committee members will be drawn from the pool of individuals who participate as proposal readers in the first round (applications are currently available, deadline July 1, 2016). The members will be selected by Maine Initiatives staff and Board. It is mandatory for Grantmaking Committee members to attend the Grantmaking Retreat in September. Unfortunately, those with date conflicts will be unable to join the committee.
  • How many people will serve on the committee? The committee will comprise between 30-40 individuals, with approximately equal representation from the following groups: past grantees, board members, donors and advisors, and community members.
  • What sort of diversity will the committee reflect? We will make every effort to ensure that the committee reflects both the geographic and demographic diversity of the state as well as other forms of diversity, include cross-class and cross cultural diversity.
  • How will the grantmaking committee be selected? Maine Initiatives will request volunteers and nominations to serve on this committee. Board and staff will collaborate to make the final determination about committee membership.
  • What costs are associated with serving on the grantmaking committee? All costs associated with individual participation in the grantmaking committee workshop, including mileage/travel costs, overnight accommodation, event space, food, and materials will be covered by Maine Initiatives. Any participant or community member interested in offsetting budgetary costs are encouraged to contact Phil Walsh ( or 207-607-4070) to make a much appreciated donation.

Participatory Grantmaking Timeline

June 1: Grantmaking Committee Request for Application/Nominations

July 1: Grantmaking Committee Applications Due

August 1: Readers: Proposal Evaluations Begin

September 1: Readers: Proposal Evaluations Due

September (dates TBD): Grantmaking Committee Retreat

November (date TBD): 2016 Grants for Change Gala Event

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