Background, Vision and Principles

In 2016, the Iowa City City Council created a grant program to assist Iowa City organizations in addressing social justice and racial equity (SJRE Grant).


The purpose of this funding is to encourage, empower and engage social justice and racial equity initiatives. Iowa City for-profit and non-profit organizations can apply for the grant to fund programs, activities, initiatives or educational outreach that helps to eliminate inequities in the community. The SJRE grant has six priority service areas: education, building community, housing, criminal justice, health, and employment. 

For purposes of this grant the Commission will use the below definition to evaluate each application based on the six priority areas identified above.

Social justice and racial equity are both a process and a goal. The goal is full and equal participation of all groups and individuals in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs, allow them to reach their full potential, and limit/decrease barriers. This definition includes a vision of society that is equitable, and where all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Adams, Bell and Griffin book on Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice and the definition used by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Available Funding

This year, $75,000 has been allocated by the City Council for this program. Both proposals and budgets will be subject to review.


To be eligible for funding, the organization must be principally and physically located in Iowa City. 

Proposals should seek to eliminate an inequity in the community (individual, institutional, or structural), and be a new project that assists individuals or groups that have been marginalized in Iowa City.

Governments, public schools, public colleges and public universities cannot be a primary applicant. Organizations associated or affiliated with a government, public school, public college or public university can apply as a primary applicant, for example, a student organization or a parent teacher association.

Whether an organization has received or will receive funding from the City of Iowa City should be considered and weighted by each Commissioner when evaluating an application. The look back period is 5 years.

An organization cannot request more than $25,000 for a project in a grant funding cycle.

An organization will be allowed to use up to 25% of its funding for operational costs. Operational Costs are defined as expenses which are related to the operation of a business, or to the operation of a device, component, piece of equipment or facility. They are the cost of resources used by an organization just to maintain its existence. Examples include but are not limited to: salaries or wages of personnel, advertising, raw materials, license or equivalent fees (such as Corporation yearly registration fees) imposed by a government, real estate expenses (like rent or lease payments), furniture and equipment, utilities (such as telephone service, internet connectivity, etc.), maintenance of equipment, office supplies and consumables, and insurance premiums.

After applications have been received but prior to the recommendation to City Council, Human Rights Commissioners may submit questions to applicants via staff.

Rankings by the Human Rights Commission are not binding and may be modified at any time prior the recommendation to the City Council.

Partial funding may be recommended by the Human Rights Commission for the next highest ranked applicant, if the applicant has clearly stated on the application form that the project could be completed with less funding.

To keep within the spirit of the grant, final rankings should serve different community populations.

Recipients of the grant will be required as a part of the funding agreement to make a presentation to the Human Rights Commission and the community at a Commission sponsored forum on the project.


Applicants are asked to include a clear and well organized project budget for 2021 and 2022, in spreadsheet form. There is a section in this application to upload the file as a PDF or XLS.   

The project budget must follow the template below. 

SJRE budget template


Applications can be submitted from noon on December 1, 2020 through January 8, 2021. It is highly recommended that you save your responses in a separate file and copy them into this electronic form to ensure your data isn't lost before submission. The Human Rights Commission will review each complete application submitted and make recommendations to the City Council on how funding should be allocated no later than March 31, 2021. The City Council will make the final decision on allocations no later than April 30, 2021. Funding will be awarded by June 1, 2021. 

Apply Now

Use this form.


Applications must be submitted by January 8, 2021. 

Questions about the application form or review process should be directed to Equity Director Stefanie Bowers at or 319-356-5022.