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About inroads participatory grantmaking

Since 2014, inroads has devoted $1,027,118.15 USD to supporting 120 abortion justice community organizations in 47 countries. inroads funding supports members with flexible and participatory grant opportunities that aim to support the care, resistance, and persistence of members leading vital abortion stigma-busting efforts to co-create futures where people can access and experience abortion on their own terms.

We are committed to re-imagining traditional grantmaking practices to build participatory processes so that our community can define and determine a resource distribution that is aligned with their vision, goals, context, and needs. After all, they are the experts and it is our commitment to ensure that they hold the power.

What does a participatory grantmaking process at inroads look like?

  • Not assuming that participation means just one thing. Determining the level of participation for each process. So far, we have done participatory staff and board reviews, member review panels, and applicant reviews.
  • Building the systems that support a participatory process. In the past two years, we have moved from Excel sheets to Airtable forms to web portals, as well as always offering an option for offline participation through downloadable documents. Participatory processes are more meaningful with better and more accessible systems, and we are learning and growing in this direction.
  • Being conscious about interlocking and structural systems of oppression and how they can show up even in participatory processes. Building conflict of interest forms, doing a final review after a participatory process to look for applicants/reviewers who could have been down or up-rated.
  • Protecting the privacy of applicants. While transparency is at the core of a participatory process, we also cannot share private information. We curate what information and questions make it to the reviewers.
  • Overtime, inroads has made it possible to both apply for funds and to participate in review processes in languages other than English, using a blend of automated translation technologies and staff translations to support Spanish and French applications.

Our Grantmaking Focus Areas

Since launching in 2014, inroads have experimented with the size, focus, and period of performance of grants to meet the programming needs of our members while reducing the stigma and discrimination that prevents people from accessing safe, quality, human-centered abortions. In our current three-year strategy, inroads grantmaking aims to resource the abortion ecosystem in three ways:

Bloom and Pollinate: Small flexible grants, usually 1,000 to 5,000 USD depending on the topic and round, are small and flexible grants designed for abortion stigma-busting organizations and collectives that need funds to strengthen their core needs, including capacity, care, and organizational health, as well as project-based needs, or to cultivate an innovative abortion stigma reduction project that could be shared and replicated by other community members.Learn about our current grantee partners from this funding stream here.

Collective Power and Solidarity: Larger flexible grants, which are between 25,000 to 40,000 USD, support collaborations, alliances, and partnerships to leverage and scale their collective impact and prepare them to apply for larger funding in the abortion pipeline. Learn about current grantee partners from this funding stream here.

Sustain and Respond (Coming soon): We are currently working to open this new stream of funding to support the community care and security needs of our community, allowing grassroots groups and organizations to be able to continue to do this work in challenging environments. Our Sustain and Respond Fund is designed to support critically under-resourced groups like acompañantes, abortion doulas, hotlines, and community-based groups to make community care efforts like holistic security training, childcare cover for in-person accompaniment, and other expenses that make it possible for them to continue to support people having abortions safely and successfully while themselves staying safe.

Nurturing the abortion justice ecosystem from the roots

After almost 10 years of grantmaking, our results demonstrate that recipients of inroads grants go on to scale their own work with funding from other entities offering more complex long-term funding opportunities that require higher administrative capacity levels and significant documentation.

Due to our close community ties with the movement, and our participatory and trust-based approach, we are proud to be often the first to grant resources to many powerful abortion grassroots collectives and to back innovative stigma-busting projects that other organizations might consider to be too new to support. With that initial funding, many of our grantee partners are able to grow, build capacity, and evolve. Becoming leaders in their community and having a ripple effect that transforms abortion narratives, realities, and policies for the better.

Our members become trainers providing local support to other groups in their area, sharing learning and resources, guiding our fellowship programs, and facilitating sessions during online or in-person gatherings and summits, being there for other inroads members when they need advice in our community spaces. They lead sessions at local, regional, and global spaces, centering stigma-reducing approaches and bringing experiences and knowledge from their communities to the global movement.

Though our resource distribution grantmaking work is focused on supporting grassroots groups and community-based work, our community is dedicated to resourcing and supporting everyone in the abortion justice ecosystem, at whatever point they are working on ending the stigma associated with abortion. Our network is a welcoming community space for actors from every part of the movement to connect, learn from each other, collaborate, and build collective power to end abortion stigma.

Honoring the Work and Wisdom of our Community

In line with inroads values of equity and community care, we also strive to practice wealth distribution within our community-led activities and spaces to support often under-resourced grassroots organizations and activists, as well as to correct for inequitable compensation in the traditional global development sector – a reality that was reflected in our 2022 members survey where 31% indicated that they carry their abortion justice work as volunteers.

As such, instead of requesting unpaid labor and/or volunteering, we honor the work and wisdom of our community by offering compensation for diverse key member roles that nurture the community and movement at large, and sustain our transformational participatory practices, such as co-facilitating, holding spaces, interpreting diverse gatherings, workshops, and trainings, translating stigma-busting content and projects, guiding our online community, contributing to member review boards or leading member advisory panels, among others.