Giving Project

Program Details Support This Program


Chicago continues to be one of the most racially and economically segregated cities in the country. The Giving Project is an intentional commitment to confront these divisions by convening people from across the city to fund organizations who are fighting for systems change.

6 Month Program

Cohort-Based Effort

Innovative Building Model

Fundraising Traning



The Crossroads Fund’s Giving Project is an innovative model for blending philanthropy and grassroots organizing.


Each cohort brings together a cross-class, cross-race, gender-diverse, intergenerational group of 15-20 people who share a vision of social justice and apply their time, skills, and resources for social change.

What is the Commitment

Each cohort commits to a transformational six- month process that will include:

  • Working together to strategically support underfunded and necessary social justice organizing.
  • Building community together, across identities, and digging deep into issues of race, class and power.
  • Make a donation that is personally meaningful (no minimum amount) and fundraise to support organizing projects.
  • A full grantmaking process that funds social justice organizing projects, including site visits and final granting decisions.
  • In the past nine years, Giving Project cohorts have raised more than $960,000 that was given out in grants to support building social, racial, and economic justice movements across Chicago.

Who Should Apply

You should apply if:

  • You want to build movements for racial, social, and economic justice in the Chicago area.
  • You are passionate about confronting Chicago’s segregation by building community across race and class, and want to learn more about each.
  • You want to learn about people and organizations that are building sophisticated and savvy movements to confront systems of oppression.
  • You want to learn how to fundraise, make grants, and grow your relationships with others seeking justice.
  • You are open to and ready for personal transformation.
  • LGBTQ-identified people, People of Color, and Giving Project alumni are especially encouraged to apply.

No prior experience with philanthropy or fundraising is needed- we will train and support you along the way!

What We'll Ask of You

  • We need every participant to honestly, openly, and candidly engage in the process.
  • Be generous and kind to your fellow participants. We all come from different places and have different experiences and have much to learn from each other.
  • Commit to the entire Giving Project by attending all meetings, reading grants, participating in site visits, and fundraising.
  • Make a meaningful personal financial contribution to the project.
  • Fundraise from friends, family, and community.
  • Be open to a process that will only be as transformative as the participants make it.

2024 Giving Project Calendar

View or download our 2024 Giving Project Calendar

Giving Project 2023-2024 Calendar

October – December


Applicant Interviews

Thurs., November 2nd
Location: Crossroads Fund

5:30pm – 7pm


Giving Project Info Session
Wed., November 15th, 2023 Applications Due
Wed., December 20th 2023 Cohort Announced

Part 1: Community Building

Wednesday, January 17th 5:30pm – 7pm


Grant Seeker Orientation

Giving Project members invited.

Saturday, January 20th
Location: Crossroads Fund
9am – 4pm


Giving Project Orientation &

Intro to Philanthropy*

Thurs., February 1st

Location: TBA

5:30pm – 7pm


Welcome Reception

Part 2: Political Education

Saturday, February 10th

Location: Crossroads Fund

9am – 4pm


Day 1- Racial Capitalism*

Tuesday, February 13th 6pm – 7pm


Race Caucus*
Saturday, February 24th
Location: Crossroads Fund
9am – 4pm


Day 2- Racial Capitalism*
Tuesday, February 27th 6pm – 7pm


Class Caucus*

Part 3: Donor Organizing

Saturday, March 9th

Location: Crossroads Fund

9am – 4pm


Fundraising Training*
March 4th – March 22nd One-on-One Meaningful Gift Meeting*
Saturday, March 23rd

Location: Crossroads Fund

9am – 4pm


Meaningful Gift Ceremony*

Part 3: Grantmaking

Friday, April 5th

Location: Malcolm X

6pm – 10pm


Seeds of Change | Crossroads Fund’s Annual Benefit
Saturday, April 13th

Location: Crossroads Fund



Grantmaking Training*
Tuesday, April 16th 6pm – 7pm


Fundraising Council & Check-In*
April 22nd – May 18th Hybrid Seed Fund Site Visits*
Friday, May 24th Fundraising Deadline*

Part 4: Democratic Decision Making

Saturday, June 1st

Location: Crossroads Fund

9am – 4pm


Final Decisions and Grantmaking Recommendations*

Part 5: Closing

Thursday, July 11th TBA


Closing Celebration


Frequently Asked Questions

How will participants be selected?
Each interested Giving Project participant will submit an online interest form and have an in-person meeting with a Crossroads Fund staff member. We are looking for people who can: commit to attend all of the training days; review grant applications; participate in site visits; have the time and capacity to fully invest in the cohort experience; are passionate about organizing donors to fund social movements; and who meet our overall goals for cohort diversity.

What do we mean when we say “our goals for cohort diversity” and cross-class/crossrace/intergenerational group?

We want the Giving Project to be a space that brings together people from all different identities together to move through this process of learning and action. As such, we work hard to pull together a group that represents the race, class, gender, sexuality and ability diversity of the city of Chicago. We are committed that at least 50% of the cohort will be made of up people of color, and curate a group of people that span the spectrum of many other identities. We especially encourage people of color and LGBTQ-identified people to apply, and are looking for individuals from all class backgrounds.


I’m interested in joining the Giving Project but my organization will apply for a grant from Crossroads Fund. Can I still participate?
Yes! We’ve had many people affiliated with applicants and grantees participate in past Giving Projects. We will use our conflict-of-interest policy to ensure that anyone closely involved with an applicant organization does not participate in the decision-making process for that organization’s application.


Is childcare available?
Yes. Crossroads Fund is committed to providing childcare, if needed, during the program. If you require childcare, please tell us when you submit your info form.


What organizations will be funded by the Giving Project?
The Giving Project participants will use Crossroads Fund’s longstanding criteria to select grantees. We support grassroots groups working for racial, social, and economic justice in the Chicago area. Participants will work together to make one-year general operating grants. Potential grantees will apply through the Seed Fund application, which supports new, emerging, and small community-based organizations that are actively engaged in social change work. The maximum grant in this program is $10,000. Click here to learn more about the Seed Fund.


I’ve done training on race and class before – is this for me?
The Giving Project trainings on race and class are designed to help make sure that all participants have a common knowledge and language to use before we begin evaluating applications and making site visits. For those who have previous training, some of the curriculum will be review but there is always something new to learn. Often, people have had training on race, but not class, or vice versa. This curriculum brings them together. Additionally, this training is designed to facilitate dialogue and relationship building with a cohort of people who are intergenerational, cross-race, cross-class, and cross-identity group. Often we have these conversations in silos with other folks who share our identities. Last, the Giving Project model combines learning and action. So often, training spaces give us frameworks but don’t ask us to do anything after. By combining political education with fundraising and grantmaking, the Giving Project helps people live out what they’re learning.


I’m interested but I don’t know if I want to ask others for money.
Fundraising is not something that most people like to do. It feels intimidating and awkward but it is essential to supporting movements for justice. The Giving Project is designed to help each of us become better grassroots fundraisers and explore any hesitation we have in asking for money. Crossroads Fund staff members will work with each participant on their fundraising plan, practice making “an ask”, and help troubleshoot any questions or concerns. Each Giving Project participant will grow as a donor organizer by the end of the six month process.


What type of fundraising are we doing?
We will train participants in grassroots fundraising. This means having one-on-one conversations with people in your network about their values and making a direct ask. We are not using online platforms like GoFundMe or crowd-sourced fundraising. The purpose of this is to build skills around relational fundraising, which is the most challenging—and yet still the most effective type of fundraising.


Wait – 20 people raising $100,000? I know how to do math – am I responsible for raising $5,000?
Nope, not necessarily! The overall fundraising goal for each Giving Project cohort is $100,000 but we only ask each participant to give a gift that is meaningful for them personally and to then fundraise from their network. Each participant sets their own goal of what they can give and raise. The beauty of a cross-class cohort is that people can raise varying amounts from their networks! What’s most important to us that is people are having deep conversations with their friends/families/colleagues and making asks – all gifts are meaningful and add up.


I’m not in the Chicago area. Can I still participate in the Giving Project?
Although it might be tricky to participate in Crossroad Fund’s Giving Project if you don’t live in the city or suburbs, there are other options around the country! The following sister foundations are mobilizing donors through Giving Projects in their respective cities:

Social Justice Fund Northwest [Seattle, WA]

Chinook Fund [Denver, CO]

Headwaters Foundation for Justice [Minneapolis, MN]

North Star Fund [New York, NY]

Bread & Roses Community Fund [Philadelphia, PA]


I’m interested but I can’t participate this time. How can I support?
There are many ways that you can support, even if you do not join as a participant. Here are a few:

  • Tell others about the Giving Project. Please ask Crossroads Fund staff about helping you to share information about the Giving Project on social media.
  • Be willing to be fundraised! We need supporters who are willing to have one-to-one conversations with our Giving Project participants that would be “easy asks.” If you are interested in/willing to be fundraised, please email
  • Donate! Commit to building power and fighting for a more just Chicago by donating to the Giving Project. You may choose to donate to the current Giving Project or to the Crossroads Fund general fund, which makes this program possible.
I was motivated to join the giving project after seeing the positive impact that Crossroads Fund has had on so many Chicago grassroots organizations. I wanted to play a role in fundraising for collective liberation, and the Giving Project gave me the community and tools through which to do that. Anjali Misra, 2020 Giving Project Member


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Crossroads Fund
3411 West Diversey Avenue
Suite #20
Chicago, Illinois 60647

o 773.227.7676