Join the 2024-2025 Giving Project!

Dear Headwaters community,

2024 will be a big year for us. After a break for evaluation and incorporating new ideas, we are set to relaunch Headwaters’ Giving Project (GP) program this September! Since 2015, our Giving Project has trained 8 cohorts of community grantmakers, funded 97 Minnesota-based organizations, and moved nearly $1.7 million dollars to movements leading the way to collective liberation. For anyone who has participated in or donated to our Giving Project, let me say “THANK YOU!” Y’all make my heart so proud and inspired to be a part of that legacy.

For those new to Headwaters, the Giving Project is a cross-class, multi-racial, multi-generational cohort of community members who come together over several months to move money to BIPOC-led organizations focusing on systems change. Through political education, community building, grassroots donor organizing, coaching, and collective grantmaking, Giving Project participants develop a shared understanding of race, class, and power as resource mobilizers within the social movement ecosystem. 

While the basics of the program are the same, we’ve revamped pieces to help meet the needs of Minnesota’s movement organizations and the amazing volunteers who dedicate their time, energy, and resources to participate. You heard from my colleague, Sierra Judy, last fall about how we’ve been strengthening the Giving Project over the past year. Together, she and I stepped into new roles co-managing the Giving Project. I’m happy to reintroduce myself as the Giving Project Development Officer and share more of our thinking as we approach relaunching the program this fall.

As Headwaters builds the future of our Giving Project, here are three changes for the 2024-25 program I want to highlight:

  • Shift the program dates and grant size: Instead of running from January-June, as we’ve done in the past, we will kick off the program in early September and finish in February 2025. This more aligns with the “school year” timeline many volunteers are familiar with. We’re also leaning into our commitment to moving more money by increasing Giving Project grants from $30,000 to $40,000 over two years.

  • Issue-specific Giving Project: Of the 9 community foundations in the national Giving Project Network, many run issue-specific GPs that help meet the needs of the moment for movement organizations.
    • In an effort to refine and strengthen the political analysis of the Giving Project, we have selected a theme of gender justice for this year. Gender justice is intersectional, expansive, and centers those most impacted by various, often compounding, forms of gender-based oppression . We refer to the wisdom and leadership of Third Wave Fund in defining gender justice as, “a movement to end patriarchy, transphobia, and homophobia, and to create a world free from misogyny.” By selecting this theme for the 2024-25 Giving Project, Headwaters is emphasizing our understanding of gender justice as a necessary component in all efforts towards collective liberation

  • Build alumni connections: Nearly 150 people have completed the Headwaters’ Giving Project program since it began. Those alumni come from all walks of life and from communities across Minnesota. Relationships are at the core of how Headwaters does our work, and I am excited to cultivate our alumni community to build deeper relationships with GP participants, HFJ staff, and our grantee partners. One opportunity I’m looking forward to is folding our end-of-the-Giving Project celebration into our annual alumni reunion! Alumni will help welcome program participants into the alumni network and celebrate the grantee partners who receive funding from the cohort.

Something I love about the GP model of collective giving is that anyone, no matter your relationship to philanthropy, can learn about and, most importantly, participate in community-led grantmaking and donor organizing. Giving Projects are redefining who sees themselves as philanthropists – creating space for people who are young, Black and brown, Indigenous, queer & trans, immigrants, disabled, formerly incarcerated, and more. I’ve spoken with dozens of alumni who have gone on to use skills they learned in the GP to support community organizing that shifted policies, changed laws, and improved lives in Minnesota and beyond.

If you are interested in being part of the Giving Project this fall, please apply! If you know someone you think would be a good fit, please spread the word! The application will be available on the HFJ website starting today, May 1. 

With joy and hope,

Chris Olson

Giving Project Development Officer