Equity Grant Programs

The Equity Office offers several grant programs intended to help grassroots and local community organizations access funding. In order to be informed about all grant openings, the best way is to sign up to receive Equity Action Team notifications.

mini-grants now open!

2023 Equity Mini-Grant Applications Now Open! 

Access Electronic Application Here: https://bit.ly/MiniGrant23

See below for additional information. 

Applications Open: 6/20/2023

Applications Close (Extended!): 7/24/2023 11:59 PM CST 

Contact Information for Application Questions or Additional Support: 

Jeremy Garza

Preferred contact: jeremy.garza@austintexas.gov

Phone: 512-978-1797

For questions about Immigrant Inclusion Mini Grant:

Rocío Villalobos

Preferred contact: rocio.villalobos@austintexas.gov

Phone: 512-974-7972

Special Notes: 

Insurance Requirements are waived for awardees of these grant funds. 

Awardees are not required to be 501(c)3 registered non-profits to receive funding. However, organizations (or their fiscal sponsor) must be registered as a vendor with the City of Austin, and agree to the terms of the template contract provided here

Purpose and Background

The Equity Mini-Grant Fund, offered annually since 2018, is now open. We are focusing on services provided to two priority populations in Austin & Travis County: immigrant communities and the unhoused community.  

In the past, the Equity Mini-Grant fund has been a flexible funding opportunity intended for grassroots community organizations working to address significant quality-of-life disparities in our community. Over the last several years, these funds have prioritized various significant challenges in our community, including COVID-19 recovery efforts, public safety, and immigrant inclusion.  

In this spirit and given the continuing work in communities throughout the City of Austin to develop interventions around the displacement of our most marginalized residents, the current Equity Mini-Grant fund seeks to fund projects that help us pilot community-centered solutions addressing: 

  • houselessness and/or 
  • immigrant inclusion

Examples of Past Mini-Grant Recipients: 

Priority Area: Our Unhoused Community 

A rough 2023 estimate from the Ending Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) estimated that 5,094 people experience houselessness on any given night, with a 7.4% increase in the number of people without housing in Travis County since 2019. However, National Consultants put our unhoused population at about 10,000 out of the million Travis County residents.  

HMIS data shows that due to systemic racism, a Black Austinite is six times more likely to experience homelessness than a white Austinite.  Consequently, the unhoused population in Austin is disproportionately Black. About 1-in-3 people experiencing homelessness are Black, compared to less than 1-in-10 in the Travis County population. 

We will prioritize projects that address the root causes of houselessness and that enhance communities’ capacity to humanely and effectively address unsheltered houseless communities by connecting folks to housing, health care, and supportive services.   

Priority Area: Immigrant Inclusion

In 2019, the City of Austin conducted a review of peer cities and the function of Immigrant Affairs Offices. This review determined we were one of the cities with the largest immigrant* communities without a central office to plan programming and services. As a result of this report, the City Council directed the creation of an Immigrant Affairs Office, and budgeted for an initial Immigrant Affairs Manager. In March 2020,  the City hired Rocío Villalobos into this role and began its journey to staff and build out its Immigrant Affairs Office. 
This fund will prioritize local, grassroots efforts to seed projects  focused on eliminating structural barriers and/or improving the quality- of- life for the City’s various immigrant* communities to increase their sense of welcome and belonging. In addition, we are interested in supporting creative projects that can help bring diverse communities together in the spirit of collaboration. 
*For our purposes, the term “immigrant” is broad and includes people who are undocumented, refugees, asylees, asylum-seekers and beyond. 

Scope of Work

In the past, the work of the Equity Mini-Grant Fund has taken many forms. These grants are broadly applicable. Disparities in outcomes exist in every system and institution and cannot be tackled in one-off or single-issue projects. The ideal project would work to address disparities holistically, centering the experience and leadership of people most impacted in every phase of the work. If a project is working to build coalitions in partnership with other organizations addressing the same issue, it would be an even stronger candidate for a mini-grant award.  

Finally, the Equity Office wants to be clear that we reject the paternalistic mode by which the non-profit industrial complex traditionally operates. We believe that every system and institution in this country perpetuates negative outcomes against Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and that non-profits and philanthropy are just as complicit, and benefit just as much, as the government.  

The Equity Office seeks to work with organizations  in the business of putting themselves out of business, and those who have chosen to take on this work in pursuing their own liberation and not on the behalf of "marginalized" communities.  

Understanding this, we do not presume to limit the creativity and resilience of communities we continue to harm. On the contrary, if work is building from the leadership of communities most directly impacted, it is work eligible for an award in this grant. 

Grant Amount

A total of $250,000 in funding is available. Recipients can apply for funding ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.


All responses must be submitted via the electronic application form accessible here: https://bit.ly/MiniGrant23

The application software will let you save and resume your application progress. If you choose to save your progress, a personalized link will be created and sent to your email. You can click the link to resume working on your application.

In case you would like to work on the application questions before accessing the form, the application questions are below: 

  1. Please describe your project. In particular, what are you trying to accomplish with this project? What issues are you trying to address? Who is most impacted by the issues? How are you proposing to address this, and/or how have you attempted to address this before? (500 words)
  2. Who are you as an organization? Why do you do what you do, and why are you best positioned to do it? (300 words)
  3. Please describe the process you went through in designing this project. (300 words)
  4. What do you know about the history of the unhoused community (or) immigration, either locally or nationally? This could be institutional history or your own experience in being impacted by it. (300 words) 
  5. Which of the following communities will this project center? (multiple choice)
    1. Black
    2. Latine
    3. Asian 
    4. LGBTQIA+
    5. Immigrants
    6. People with Disabilities 
    7. Seniors 
    8. Other:
  6. What are this project's intended outsomes, and how will they be measured? (300 words)
  7. Please list any partners you have in this project, and their role. (300 words)
  8. What is the total budget for your organization? (multiple choice)
    1. Under $100k
    2. $100k-$500K
    3. Over $500K
  9. How many staff does your organization employ? (multiple choice) 
    1. Less than 6
    2. 6 to 15
    3. More than 15

Application Evaluation and Awarding 

City of Austin staff will facilitate a comprehensive evaluation of the applications received. First, the applications will be scored by a community-City review panel, according to the Scoring Rubric available below. Following this, the Equity Office will conduct interviews with the top scoring applicants and based on an evaluation of these interviews by the community-City review panel, awardees will be notified.  

Scoring Rubric

Grant Requirements

Awardees are not required to be 501(c)3 registered non-profits to receive funding. However, organizations (or their fiscal sponsor) must be registered as a vendor with the City of Austin, and agree to the terms of the template contract provided here

Of particular emphasis, but not yet included in the contract template, is a condition that organizations will send project staff and leadership teams through the Undoing Racism workshop, as hosted by the Equity Office and facilitated by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. This workshop takes participants through the history of race and how racism has rooted itself in all our systems and institutions. We require this workshop to ensure that all funded organizations are grounded in the same history and analysis of racism, and to help inform and transform the work of equity in Austin. Upon acceptance of the award, Equity Office staff will contact awardees with multiple potential workshop options, and it is expected that awardees will make every reasonable effort to attend one of those options, or else work with Equity Office staff to find a workshop option that aligns with their schedule. 

Reporting Requirements and Measurable Outcomes

One of the central goals of these grants is to better address the quality of life disparities we face as a community. Although a lot of money is spent by both government and philanthropic institutions with this goal, in many cases we have seen these disparities persist, and even get worse. In providing these grants directly to grassroots organizations, the City of Austin is hoping to pilot new approaches to addressing these disparities, with the goal of learning and growing more effective across all of our work.

The grant report will not be the only place for this learning to take place, however, as the written documentation it is critically important. A broad outline is included below to help guide the reporting, but this should not be taken as restrictive or exclusive. If the awarded organization feels the structure will not best reflect the project and its lessons, the Equity Office will in most cases be flexible to what the organization wants.

  • Executive summary:
    • a synopsis of the project’s key findings and recommendations 
  • Introduction:
    • a brief description of what was evaluated for the project, the purpose  of the evaluation and the methods used (e.g. surveys, interviews)      
  • Findings and discussion: 
    • information on results and impact the project delivered and what outcomes occurred, with particular emphasis on any gaps or issues in City service areas that were identified in the project    
  • Expenditures: 
    • description of how grants funds supported the organization in meeting the purpose of this grant, and how the grant funds were expended.      
  • Recommendations: 
    • actions that need to be taken to respond to the evaluation findings

Additional Resources

See our Strategic Direction 2023 and explore our past Equity Grant Initatives below.


Past Equity Grant Initiatives 

Our inaugural Equity Mini-Grant Fund was created in 2018 in response to Ordinance 20170913-001 directing the Equity Office, in the form of a Budget Rider, to develop a funding framework for qulity of initatives by allocating $75,000 to an Equity Mini Grant Fund. Our office was able to push for a more approachable, accessible granting framework and was proud to announce its first recipients in April 2018. We have since expanded our programs to include the Reentry Services Grant meant to transform outcomes for formerly incarcerated people. There are two categories: The Hub Award, which provides $200,000 for those 501(c)3 non-profits who provide wrap-around services to formerly incarcerated individuals, and the Spoke Award, which provides $50,000 to entities providing direct services to formerly incarcerated individuals as they 'reenter' society. There are also additional topic or issue focused grant openings, such as the Reimagining Public Safety Grants, and potential for future grant openings supporting work for the immigrant and refugee populations.