Mission & Values
The General Service Foundation dedicates all of our resources
to bringing about a more just and sustainable world. We aim to achieve our
goals by nurturing and learning from strategic partnerships, embracing risk
and possibility, and aligning every aspect of our organization with our
deeply held values which include a commitment to leadership, integrity,
diversity, experimentation, accountability, justice, and excellence.
GSF believes that national change is often inspired by state leadership and
policies. In the best cases, state policies that promote justice, equity, and
sustainability are inspired by community members organized and empowered to
democratically influence the state's political landscape. We think the best
organizations to lead this civil society effort are grassroots organizations
with a base of citizens they can organize and mobilize to petition on behalf
of shared values and needs. This work is challenging, long-term and
necessarily local in scale. Therefore, we believe that base-building
organizing groups best translate their energy and
stakeholder power into the political realm by participating in a state-level nonpartisan
infrastructure that coordinates and amplifies their voice.
in 2006, the goal of the Foundation's grantmaking
program in Colorado is to a) build the capacity of key base-building
organizations committed to justice and equity in the state, and b) facilitate
collaboration among our grantees and also between our grantees and other
sectors (including media, research, leadership, policy, and issue advocacy
groups) to create a powerful, permanent infrastructure capable of affecting
state-wide policy change over the long term.
is a base-building organization?
defines a base-building organization as a multi-issue group that engages
and empowers underrepresented communities in nonpartisan democratic,
electoral, and legislative processes to build community power.
Traditional membership-based and membership-led community organizing can
qualify, as can institutional organizing or coalition models, but the
organization needs to be primarily serving underrepresented constituencies,
which GSF defines as low-income earners and the poor; women; people of color;
immigrants and refugees; disenfranchised youth; and LGBTQs.
that fit GSF guidelines work on multiple issues prioritized both by what is
most important to the communities they organize and by what issues will build
the greatest political power for their community. This focus differentiates
base-building organizations from issue-based organizations which draft
support for causes prioritized by the organization's leadership. For the most
part, GSF does not support issue-based organizations. Our grantees aim to
create a ripple effect that enrolls wider and wider circles of citizens into
the organization or movement, resulting in a bigger and broader base. We
believe this engagement can create the strong, vibrant democracy required to
inspire just and equitable state policy.
do we mean by permanent infrastructure?
Organizing at the neighborhood level alone will not bring
about the wide-scale policy change required to improve the lives of
underrepresented constituencies. But we believe that when several
base-building organizations work in collaboration together and create
connections with other groups, together they have
the capacity to achieve state-level change. Thus
GSF is a strong supporter of infrastructure organizations like state civic
engagement tables or other coalition structures that connect base-building
groups to each other and to other sectors to reduce overlap and knit together
individual efforts into a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
of Groups Supported
BASE-BUILDING: If you are a base-building group with the capacity to affect
policy in Colorado by working in partnership with others in the state, we
invite you to apply for this program. Current base-building grantees receive
between $25,000 and $35,000 each year with potential additional funds for
technical support. Due to current financial and budgetary restraints, we are
accepting very few new grantees and new grants are usually within the
$10,000-25,000 range. New grantees must closely collaborate with current
grantees (please see grants list).
COLORADO GROUPS: When extra funding is available, GSF awards a very limited
number of grants to issue advocacy, policy, media, research, leadership
development, or other connective infrastructure groups that are explicitly
connected to and bolstering the work of the base-building groups we support.
These grants usually range from $10,000-25,000 and applications are by
ORGANIZATIONS: GSF places top priority on Colorado organizations that are
rooted in the state. We only rarely support national organizations to work in
Colorado and they must show a strong and ongoing commitment to work in
partnership with in-state groups, including prioritizing locally-led
campaigns rather than working off a national agenda.
would like more information about your fit with the program, please email
Renee Fazzari (firstname.lastname@example.org) before
submitting a letter of inquiry.
for Choosing Groups
In assessing potential grantees, the Foundation will place a priority on
those organizations and projects that both fit our definition of a
base-building group and meet the following criteria:
- The organization works to address needs
identified by the underrepresented communities that are directly
impacted (please see GSF definition of underrepresented communities
- The organization focuses directly on developing,
strengthening, and empowering local community leaders or, if it is a
coalition, the coalition facilitates this activity through its partners.
- The organization works throughout the year in a
constant "cycle of accountability" working to engage community
members in campaigns that will create real, systemic change and build
permanent power for their community.
proposals should answer: What is your organization's membership or community engagement
philosophy? How do you define membership and activist engagement within your
organization? Please list number of members, including any classifications
you place on the overall membership.
Diverse & Sustainable Leadership:
- The organization is dedicated to enhancing the
skills, knowledge and responsibilities of its staff and members.
- The Executive Director is not the sole driver of the
organization, but instead has support and leadership from the Board of
Directors and/or strong secondary leadership. A Board of Directors
policy to annually evaluate the Executive Director is a plus.
- The organization and/or its programs are led by
individuals who reflect the diversity of its constituency and
proposals should answer: What is the diversity breakdown of your board and senior
management? What is the relationship between your Board and Executive
Director in terms of organizational leadership?
- The organization has a proven track record of
collaboration with other Colorado organizations, including current GSF
- There is a commitment to sharing best practices with
and learning from organizations outside the region and nationally.
- The organization is a dedicated member of the state
table or other key coalitions.
proposals should answer: What is your organization's unique niche in the overall Colorado
advocacy and civic engagement landscape? How do you evaluate that role?
of Inquiry Submission Process
submit a 2-5 page letter that provides basic organizational information and
addresses your fit to the above criteria, including answers to the required
questions above, via our online application program. To submit, click on
"Click Here to Apply Online" at the bottom of this page. You will
need your Federal Tax ID and any pertinent organizational contact information.
proposals will not be accepted.