Crossing Divides

Kindle Project and Cotyledon Fund are pleased to announce Crossing Divides, a pilot grantmaking program for groups in Arizona, Mississippi, and Nebraska who are attempting to resolve conflicts in their communities, across aisles and despite differences. We are looking for proposals from local non-profit or fiscally sponsored organizations until December 1st, 2021.

We know the storyline: that Americans are hopelessly divided, and conversation, let alone cooperation, is less and less possible because people don’t trust institutions or each other. The influence of social media and political partisanship only make matters worse.

But we think there is more to the story and more reason to hope. We believe there are people working in their communities to resolve critical conflicts and rebuild the trust necessary to work together through future challenges and upheaval. Some of this work might be new and innovative, and some of it might be so elegantly simple that it doesn’t get a lot of attention in the media. We want to support and learn from these efforts. Crossing Divides will provide small grants of up to $10,000 to community-based non-profits that are addressing conflict through person-to-person interaction.

Our hope is to better understand how people define conflict and the “other” or the “enemy,” and how they work toward deeper understanding and possible resolution. We also hope to learn how to support the most effective approaches so that more communities can cultivate more durable peace and resilience across the United States.

Are you part of a group that is doing this work? We’d like to know more. We are curious about, and open to, any approaches that people are experimenting with, which may include:

  • Local media that cultivates different voices and helps people deconstruct their own biases and fears to come up with solutions; 
  • Artists or other culture-makers who bring together people in conflict to co-create something meaningful; 
  • Restorative justice, non-violent communication, conversation cafes, and trauma healing approaches; 
  • Healing divisions through spiritual practice or community (non-proselytizing); 
  • Working the land as a tool to bring people together; 
  • Growing, making, or sharing food to educate and bring disparate sides literally to the table.

However, these are just ideas. We invite you to share whatever you think will or may work in your community. We know that resolving conflict is a long, often non-linear process with a mix of setbacks and successes. We are interested in supporting efforts that fall anywhere on the spectrum—from people in conflict agreeing to start a conversation to groups that have built enough trust that they are creating a shared solution, or anywhere in between. Our main requirement is that the end goal be not just getting to know others but ultimately working together, even if the road to that goal is long.

Read the full grant criteria in the drop-down menu below.

Click here to apply

(The form cannot be saved in progress, so draft responses in another program and paste in. If you prefer to apply by email, use this link to download the application in MS Word format, then email it to grants@kindleproject.org.)

Grant criteria

The following criteria has been established so as to best shortlist applications in a way that both adheres to nonprofit grantmaking requirements and furthers the objectives of the Crossing Divides program. These objectives are:

To understand how people define conflict and the “other” or the “enemy,” and how they work toward deeper understanding and possible resolution within their particular context, and 

To identify ways that we can extend the reach and impact of the most effective approaches to cultivate more durable peace, mutuality, and resilience across all sectors of U.S. society.

This fund is envisioned as both exploratory and experimental in its approaches. We welcome ideas that move beyond just the conventional approaches. Funded projects may include anything from art to block parties to restorative justice. A few examples are as follows:

  • Local media that cultivates different voices and helps people deconstruct their own biases and fears, in order to come up with solutions;
  • Artists or other culture-makers and projects that bring together people in conflict to co-create something meaningful (such as murals, peace gardens, community performance art, etc.);
  • Restorative justice;
  • Non-violent communication;
  • Conversation cafes;
  • Trauma healing approaches, etc;
  • Healing divisions through spiritual practice or community (strictly non-proselytizing);
  • Working the land as a tool to bring people together;
  • Cultivation, preparation, and sharing of food to educate and bring disparate sides literally to the table.

These are examples to demonstrate the range of approaches that will be considered, but we invite all creative ideas.

 

Specific Criteria to Guide the Selection Process

A grantee must

  • Be a 501c3, or fiscally sponsored by one;
  • Be an entity that works within Arizona, Mississippi, and/or Nebraska;
  • Be an entity working specifically in some manner of localized conflict resolution and reconciliation pertaining to a specific community-level crisis, discord, or conflict. The issue must be measurable in that there is the possibility for tangible and visible results from actions funded by the grant and where not resolving the conflict could have real consequences for people’s lives, their livelihoods, and/or the area’s natural resources;
  • Be able to articulate and define “community” as it pertains to the project to be funded by the grant. The grantee must also be able to define and articulate the conflict or “divide” based on the local context;
  • Be strictly non-proselytizing in approach and action within the project funded through the grant;
  • Be non-partisan in the engagement of the project funded through the grant;
  • Be engaged in work which furthers the well-being and dignity for all people and species;
  • Be applying for a project that moves beyond a community “getting to know each other” and instead into a community working and engaging together toward a shared purpose, although with a recognition that the engagement may be in its early stages. An example spectrum of these stages might be: No dialogue at all  —>  Some willingness to start talking  —>  A few people are talking  —>  Most key players are talking and listening  —>  The community is working together.
  • Be willing to “come together” with other grant recipients to share learning and experience (format and date to be determined).

A grantee should

  • Be an entity with an annual budget of $750,000 or less;
  • Be comfortable with, and open to experimentation and adaptation in their efforts and readiness to try something different where other tactics have not succeeded;
  • Demonstrate creativity in approach and thinking;
  • Be rooted in their community and grassroots in their approaches;
  • Be able to convey a sense of having stake in a peaceful resolution for all involved, even if it seems difficult to achieve;
  • Be able to move beyond the national left-right narratives and think/act locally and with understanding of local perspectives.

Review team

Sundus Abdul Hadi is an artist and writer. Born to Iraqi parents, she was raised and educated in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, where she earned a BFA in Studio Arts and Art History and a MA in Media Studies. Sundus’ transmedia work is a sensitive reflection on trauma, struggle, and care. She is the author/illustrator of “Shams,” a children’s book about trauma, transformation and healing. Her book titled “Take Care of Your Self: The Art and Cultures of Care and Liberation” (Common Notions, Fall 2020) is about care, curation and community. She is the cofounder of We Are The Medium, an artist collective and culture point.


Esra’a Al Shafei
is a Bahraini human rights activist and founder of Majal.org, a network of digital platforms that amplify under-reported and marginalized voices in the Middle East and North Africa. Since 2017, she has served on the Board of Trustees at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit which hosts Wikipedia. Esra’a is a former Senior TED Fellow, Echoing Green Fellow, Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow.

 

John Kinyon has devoted his life and career to furthering human connection and cooperation around the world through empathic communication. He is a trainer, coach, mediator, speaker, and author dedicated to sharing the skills, practices, and structures of empathy and consciousness in conversation as part of health and wellness. John has developed his work over more than 20 years and is the co-creator of the international Mediate Your Life Training Program, based in Nonviolent Communication/NVC. He has brought the training to people throughout the U.S. and in countries around the world.

Mary Fifield is Director of Grantmaking for Cotyledon Fund. A community development practitioner, writer, trainer, and facilitator, she has more than 15 years of program design and organizational leadership in the non-profit sector. Based in San Diego, she works with philanthropic and grassroots organizations to create programs that support community self-determination and harness assets for sustainable local development. Her research and writing appear in Alliance Magazine, Foundation Review, and others. She has published fiction and is co-editor of Fire & Water: Stories from the Anthropocene.

Sadaf Rassoul Cameron is the co-founder and Director of Kindle Project. She’s an activist and photographer who’s committed her work to environmental and social justice. She received her MA in Peace Education from the United Nations University for Peace and her BFA in Photography from the College of Santa Fe. A photographer and multimedia artist, her work has included documenting Afghan refugee camps and survivors of the 1947 partition in India and Pakistan.

 

Nellika Little has over 20 years of experience in international program management, primarily in conflict and post-conflict contexts. This has included Afghanistan, Syria (Turkey), South Sudan, Kosovo, Malaysia, and Mongolia with a variety of NGOs, USG agencies, and the UN. Her work has focused on fostering independent local media, civic engagement, fair electoral processes, grassroots activism, and open and accountable political transitions.

Frequently asked questions

Who can apply?

Any organization, individual, or group of individuals who are able to align their proposed activities with a non-profit entity designated as a 501c3.

 

What are some examples of types of groups or individuals who might be interested in applying?

Here are some examples of types of individuals or groups which have so much to offer toward bridging divides and who may be moved to apply for one of these grants. This list is hardly exhaustive; so long as an individual or an organization is able to receive funding through a 501c3 designated entity, they are more than welcome to apply.

Artists, community associations, activists, educational organizations, school and university groups, health organizations, youth organizations, journalists, media groups, community welfare organizations, environmental organizations, human rights groups, justice related organizations, girls and boys clubs, community reconciliation or cohesion groups, mediators, restaurants, cafes, parent-teacher associations, citizen review boards, tenant or neighborhood associations, church or faith-based groups.

 

What kind of projects will be considered?

To help inspire your thinking and to give you an idea of the breadth of approaches we will consider, we’ve put together a list of possible projects that may be funded:

  • Local media that cultivates different voices and helps people deconstruct their own biases and fears, in order to come up with solutions;
  • Artists or other culture-makers and projects that bring together people in conflict to co-create something meaningful (such as murals, peace gardens, community performance art, etc.);
  • Restorative justice;
  • Non-violent communication;
  • Conversation cafes;
  • Trauma healing approaches, etc;
  • Healing divisions through spiritual practice or faith-based community activities (strictly non-proselytizing);
  • Working the land as a tool to bring people together;
  • Cultivation, preparation, and sharing of food to educate and bring disparate sides literally to the table.

But please bear in mind these are just a few examples. We are eager to learn about your ideas for addressing and resolving conflict in your community.

 

How do I know if my group has non-profit status?

You should check with the leadership of your organization and/or the board and ask them if they have received 501c3 status by the IRS. If your group has this status, you will have a letter from the IRS that states this and you will have an EIN number that is unique to them for non-profit reporting purposes.

 

What is a Fiscal Sponsor?

Fiscal sponsorship refers to the practice and service of non-profit organizations offering their legal and tax-exempt status to groups – typically projects – engaged in activities related to the sponsoring organization’s mission. Typically if an organization is not a registered 501(c)3 then they will need a fiscal sponsor to be able to receive funds and for donors to receive their tax deduction.

 

What if I do not have federally designated non profit status and I do not have a fiscal sponsor?

A 501(c)3 is commonly referred to as a “non-profit”. Under Internal Revenue Service rules, a 501(c)3 is a non-profit for religious, charitable or educational purposes. If you do not have 501c3 designated status and you do not have a fiscal sponsor, you can reach out to organizations who do have that status and see if they might be willing to take on your project as their own. You should check out entities in your area such as neighborhood associations, the YWCA, and community foundations to see if they might be interested in taking on your project and being a Crossing Divides “grantee”.

Or you can secure fiscal sponsorship with an organization who is designated as a 501c3. This usually requires an application to the fiscal sponsor and usually a fiscal sponsor will charge a fee (usually 5%-9%) that is taken out of any grant that is received.

 

Our organization is designated as a 501c4. Can we apply for a grant?

Unfortunately we cannot provide a grant to an organization that is designated as a 501c4. We can only provide a grant to organizations that have 501c3 status or fiscal sponsorship by a group with 501c3 status.

 

What is the timeline for the grant selection and award process?

The deadline for application submission is December 1, 2021. In early 2022 the Crossing Divides panel will meet and review a shortlist of applications. We anticipate that these discussions to determine finalists will take place over 1 month.  We will then reach out to finalists to let them know and to obtain additional information that we will need to process the grants. We anticipate that this process will take another 1-2 months before the grant funds are sent.  This means that we hope to have grants provided to finalists by approximately March or April, 2022.

Note that we may extend the deadline for applications from December 1, 2021 to a later date if we do not receive enough applications in time. If the deadline is extended, then the award process may also be extended.

 

What types of things/ criteria will the panel be looking at as they make their decision to award grants?

Please review the list of criteria in the drop down menu above. This is the criteria that the panel will be using as they determine finalists.

 

What if my project or initiative doesn’t have a team, it is just me?

That is not a problem at all!  Many great things are achieved by just one person.

 

How much money can I apply for?

Up to $10,000.

 

What if I don’t live in Mississippi, Nebraska, or Arizona but I have a great idea that could be applied to one of these states?

For the time being, we are funding groups who live and work in these three states, but we hope to be able to expand the grant program in the future to other areas.

 

Why were these three states chosen for this pilot phase of the program?

We have chosen these states because they are largely rural and receive less philanthropic funding than other areas. These states have distinct political, environmental, and cultural issues, and we believe that as a group they may provide a lot of rich learning about different kinds of divides and peace-making strategies.

 

When is the application deadline?

December 1, 2021

 

When will I find out if my application has been awarded?

We hope to inform applicants by late March or early April, 2022.

 

Who is on the decision-making panel?

The panel is made up of 6 individuals. You can read about them in the review team drop-down menu above.