Unrestricted Operating Support
Unrestricted Operating Support (U.O.S.) is the Foundation’s primary vehicle for supporting and building the long-term capacity and effectiveness of nonprofits, collaboratives and coalitions that are working to advance racial, social and economic equity. The Foundation provides flexible, multi-year unrestricted support to carefully selected nonprofits that demonstrate the interest and ability to strengthen their organizational effectiveness and capacity. This includes nonprofits providing quality, essential services in the areas of health, education and human services, as well as those engaged in community organizing, advocacy, civic engagement and movement building.
In March 2020, the Foundation announced it had suspended its practice of accepting unsolicited applications or letters of inquiry. This announcement was made to give the Foundation time to address an unprecedented number of funding applications, and to adjust our approach in light of the public health crisis.
While we have suspended our practice of accepting unsolicited applications this year, we continue to use the same guidelines and priorities to guide our pro-active decisions on what organizations to invite to apply. We are focusing on organizations that we have funded over the past several years that are strongly aligned with our goal to advance equity, as well as our strategies and priority funding areas.
Throughout the year, our program officers engage in a process of identifying community-based organizations throughout our five-county service area that have a demonstrated commitment to racial and socioeconomic justice, that are doing critical work to respond to the pandemic and to shape a just recovery, that are a key part of the ecosystem in their region or field. We are focused on communities of color disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and are particularly interested in organizations that are aligned with the Foundation’s Areas of Special Interest. Once an organization is invited to apply, the review process is streamlined and expedited.
We have increased our grantmaking budget for the year, however, the demand for our funding greatly exceeds our capacity. This year’s invitation-only process is designed to allow us to provide faster support to core partners as they respond to the public health and economic crisis. At the same time, we welcome communication with nonprofits in order to inform and strengthen our strategies.
Please feel free to contact one of our program officers with any questions, and to sign up for our newsletter for updates. To review a list of our recent grants and program related investments, please click here.
Funding Criteria: In addition to the information provided above related to the suspension of unsolicited applications, invited U.O.S. applicants shall meet the following criteria:
- Work must be focused in one of the following five Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura. NOTE: The Foundation no longer funds in Santa Barbara County. Please click here for more information;
- Mission, goals and programming address the critical needs of individuals and communities most impacted by racial, social and economic inequity due to their race, income level, gender, religion, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation or zip code;
- Has an established track-record that can demonstrate positive impact and progress toward desired goals;
- Operates as part of a larger ecosystem, engaging in meaningful partnerships, collaborations, coalitions, or networks to leverage resources and increase the impact of their work to advance shared community goals;
- Programs, services and core activities are culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of those served;
- Meaningfully engages clients, constituents and individuals most impacted by inequities to inform the organization’s work and decision making;
- Demonstrates a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in governance, staffing, organizational practices and collaborative relationships;
- Evidences an ability to make progress in one or more of the following areas of organizational effectiveness:
- Board governance and engagement
- Financial operations and management
- Fund development
- Staff and infrastructure
- Diversity and inclusion
- Organizational strategy and adaptability
- Executive leadership
- Able to articulate how a U.O.S. grant could have measurable impact on organizational and programmatic capacity and effectiveness
The size of an Unrestricted Operating Support grant will generally range between $50,000 and $200,000 over two years, depending on a number of factors including the budget size of the organization, and the specific needs and opportunities of each applicant.
Operating Reserves: On a case-by-case basis and after consultation with the applicant organization, the Foundation may recommend restricting a portion of a U.O.S. grant for the organization’s operating reserve. Operating reserve set-asides are typically recommended when an applicant is seeking to seed or build its reserve fund, and are usually conditional on the existence or creation of a board-approved organizational policy on the use and maintenance of the reserve. When appropriate, the Foundation will consider adding a condition on the reserve portion of the grant requiring a one-to-one match from the agency’s board or a one-to-one match from other private sources, in order to encourage board engagement or additional private support. For more information about operating reserves, please see this toolkit created by the Nonprofit Operating Reserves Initiative Workshop.