The Arkansas Community Institute (ACI) is pleased to announce a new fund to help grassroots organizations and projects address the inequities in our state’s economy, social structure, and civic life. The current public health crisis and downturn in the economy have laid bare the lack of equity in our healthcare system, housing policies, education, employment, and financial well-being. Recent street actions and protests over the killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and others have underscored the urgent need not only for reform of policing and our justice system, but even more importantly for action to address the racism that is so deeply rooted in our country.

With support from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF), ACI will identify and make grants to fund grassroots work for economic, gender, and racial justice in Arkansas. The establishment of this fund is in direct response to the nearly half-million households in Arkansas who are considered ALICE. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed and represents the 41 percent of our population who struggle financially because they face barriers created by many policies and institutions that prevent them from achieving economic stability.

ACI is a membership organization of low-income people that is working for progressive social change in Arkansas. ACI is not a foundation and has partnered with WRF to develop this fund because we know from our own experience that resources for projects that challenge the institutions and policies that keep communities in poverty are scarce in our state.

ACI will fund small projects and large ones. The project period can last any length of time over a 12-month period. The ACI Fund can be used to support a staff position, an event, a social change art project (e.g., the murals on Seventh Street in Little Rock), research for a report, issue brief or oral history, online organizing, and anything that contributes to positive social change in Arkansas. We will favor projects where impacted people are involved in the planning and implementation of project activities. You do not have to be a 501(c)3 organization or even incorporated. ACI will also fund individuals or a group of individuals.

ACI asks that you provide a one-page (or less) description of the project, the issue it addresses, and its expected impact. ACI also needs a budget and contact information. During the grant period, ACI staff will be available for support and check in with you every three months or so to see how the project is progressing. Grantees are asked to send a brief report plus press clippings, photos, videos, and anything else that you would like to send when the project is completed. ACI wants to celebrate your work.

Proposals are due by November 15. Please send proposals or questions to aci@arkansascomm.org. For more information, call Neil Sealy at (501) 376-7151 x1. If your project is funded, we will notify you via email in December 2020 and mail checks in January 2021.