Updated: In the second year of implementing our strategic plan, and in the early stages of integrating racial equity into all aspects of our work, the Meyer Foundation is looking forward to supporting new work that addresses shared community goals in housing, education and employment, and financial security. We are also eager to increase support for current grantees who have the appetite and capacity to expand their work and accelerate progress toward those goals.
Yet this year our enthusiasm to support new and deeper work faces a real constraint: the foundation has less money to give away in 2017 than we did in 2016. Our endowment—the size of which directly influences the amount of grant money we award—is slightly smaller this year due to lower returns on investments over the past three years.
We also generally award transition grants to long-term grantees whose work no longer aligns with our strategic plan and funding priorities (as we did last year when we chose to stop funding the direct provision of healthcare and some other safety net services). Second-year payments for many of last year’s transition grants further reduce the grant dollars available through our regular grant process this year.
This combination of factors means that Meyer has almost no grant dollars in 2017 to support new work or to increase grants for current grantees. That’s a hard message to deliver to the nonprofit community, and a hard reality for Meyer staff to operate within.
This is also disappointing news for many organizations, especially those who see their work reflected in our strategic plan and have been trying to secure funding from Meyer.
Knowing how much time nonprofits invest in drafting and submitting a request to Meyer—and knowing that time is at a premium for most executive and development directors—we’ve decided on an invitation-only process for the next grant cycle, limited to current grantees. This is not a decision we take lightly. Those invited can expect an update on the application process in early June.
When we shared our new strategic plan and mission at the end of 2015, we noted that they reflect both an evolution in our grantmaking and a new understanding that our influence extends beyond the $7 million we give away each year. As that evolution continues, we hope you will continue to be a partner in driving solutions that build an equitable Greater Washington community.