Spring Forward

Molly de Aguiar
4 min readApr 27, 2021


People’s Paper Co-op wheatpaste mural at Ridge & Spring Garden streets. Photo: Mark Strandquist

It’s Spring already, and we’re overdue with this update on what we’ve been up to at Independence Public Media Foundation this year, and what we’re planning for the rest of the year:

2021 Grantmaking

In 2021, we will conduct two rounds of invited proposals from our grantees to whom we gave two-year grants in 2019, along with a handful of other organizations whom we’ve identified as key partners. We are nearing the end of the first round of invited proposals: our board will review recommendations in May, and we’ll announce those grants shortly thereafter. The other round of invited proposals will happen this fall.

We also plan to conduct an open call for digital equity proposals, and an open call for our Community Voices Fund, both of which we’ll launch in mid-May, and complete by the end of July. Any current grantee (including last year’s Community Voices Fund grantees) or prospective applicant (nonprofits, or fiscally sponsored organizations) is welcome to apply to the open calls. We’ll be sharing more specifics on our website soon.

And this fall, we will support another community-led nominations process for grants to individual filmmakers, as we did last year. This process is led by local leaders and artists in the film community nominating other local filmmakers for funds to help support existing film projects.

Also, we have made three grants this year totaling $395,000:

  • In March, we partnered with several of our funding colleagues to support the COVID Prevention + Response Fund with a grant of $350,000. This pooled fund is hosted by the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia in partnership with Philly Counts. Fifteen community advisors, living and working in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID, are leading the design and implementation of the fund, including making decisions about grant funding. You can read all about the fund here.
  • We made another grant of $20,000 to the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia in support of their strategic planning this year.
  • We also made a $25,000 grant to Securing the Roots, to support paid fellowships to participate in a 6-month fundraising training program for organizations with budgets under $1 million.

In total, we plan to make about $7.2 million in grants this year.

We are still experimenting with our processes, trying to find a balance between managing the volume of requests we receive while trying to remain as open and accessible as possible to new ideas and projects.

Photo: Germantown Info Hub


One of our highest priorities this year is to support training and peer-to-peer learning on topics that our grantees have identified are most important to them. Through surveys, we learned that fundraising, financial management, and communications were at the top of their list. They also identified staff wellbeing, governance, and leadership as critical needs.

As a result, our team has developed a series of training opportunities this year, including:

Additionally, we are supporting a cohort of local filmmakers on a variety of topics, including fundraising, film distribution, and engaging communities.

Later in the year, we will share what we’re learning through these workshops. What we already know is how much non-profits need funders to help support robust opportunities for their learning, growth, and resiliency, so we hope more funders will make room in their budgets for this work.

Photo: Kensington Voice

Beyond the Grants

We also have been:

  • Working on a new website and logo with Message Agency
  • Developing a learning + impact framework with Impact Architects
  • Finalizing some community media research led by Rosemary Clark Parsons, and
  • Participating in a mission-aligned investing cohort through the Philanthropy Network in order to ensure that our values and mission are driving our investment management decisions.

Although it’s not easy to balance all of this work with making time to write about it, we’re committed to transparency and sharing what we’re learning, so we will have more to say throughout the year about everything laid out here.

Please keep an eye on our website and on Twitter for announcements and specific details about our open calls, and reach out to info@independencemedia.org if you want to get in touch.