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Offer: Call for Applications: the Fledgling Fund for social change media projects

Next Funding Cycle Opens August 2012

The Fledgling Fund supports innovative media projects that can play critical roles in igniting social change. We believe that film and other creative media can bear witness to the challenges faced by vulnerable individuals, families and communities in ways that statistics can not, and that it can create a broader understanding of social problems and inspire concrete action. We also believe that well-structured and creative audience engagement initiatives can leverage media's ability to ignite social change by moving people from awareness to action. We strive for a portfolio of media projects that allows us to:

  • Support projects that are timely, tell compelling and important stories, represent a unique perspective or an intriguing solution to an entrenched social problem, and have strong potential as a vehicle for social change.
  • Demonstrate how films coupled with well-structured and measurable outreach and audience engagement campaigns can raise awareness about complex social issues, encourage dialogue, share possible solutions, and move people to action.
  • Encourage the innovative use of media, such as Web 2.0 strategies, and short form videos, to engage new audiences around important social issues.

We work closely with our partners to advance these objectives.

Types of Funding

The primary focus of The Fledgling Fund's creative media initiative is outreach and audience engagement. We are interested in supporting film and other media projects that engage key audiences in efforts to affect positive social change. In recent application cycles, the average grant size for The Fledgling Fund has been approximately $25,000. Our grants typically fall into three broad categories:

  • Outreach and Audience Engagement: These grants support the development and/or implementation of strategic audience engagement initiatives for feature and short form films. Films should be at least at a rough cut stage to be considered for this type of funding. To read more about how we define outreach and audience engagement, please read our paper "From Distribution to Audience Engagement".
  • Grants for Films: Generally these grants support late-stage post production costs. Films should be timely, have strong outreach potential, have completed production, and have a rough cut to be considered.
  • Innovative Creative Media: These grants support the use of emerging technology to engage new audiences around important social issues, not necessarily tied to a film.

Our existing portfolio of projects will give you a better understanding of the types of projects that we have funded. We also strongly encourage you to review our key issue areas below, which provide more information on our areas of interest.

Key Issue Areas

  • Environmental Justice: Given the urgency of action to rescue our environment, we are interested in creative media projects that highlight the impact of environmental policy decisions as well as corporate and personal behavior on our communities and our world. In particular, we are interested in projects that inspire individuals to make environmentally responsible and sustainable decisions in their daily lives and hold themselves and corporations accountable for the impact they have on their communities. We believe that comprehensive individual, corporate, national and international actions are the only way we can begin to build a sustainable future and that those actions must begin now. We hope that the creative media projects we support will inspire people to individual and collection action and engagement in efforts to ensure that our environment is a top priority.
  • Girls' Empowerment and Women's Leadership: With an unwavering belief in the potential and strength of women and girls to change the world, we look for projects that demonstrate this capacity, highlight their unique challenges and inspire the world to cheer them on. We are particularly interested in projects that are effective educational tools for vulnerable young girls, social service providers, advocates and other stakeholders. We celebrate the work past generations have done to improve the status of women and we are committed to making sure that girls and women around the world are empowered and have an equal voice. We believe that creative media can make connections, showcase solutions, create policies and spark important dialogue among girls, women, and men and help inspire the world to hear their voices.
  • Health and Wellness: We look for film and other media projects that help to inspire dialogue and action around America's and the world's most pressing health challenges: access to care and preventive services, nutrition and obesity, improving public health, HIV/AIDS and other deadly pandemics, the complexity of global health delivery, and the challenge of making informed decisions about medical care in an era of rapidly changing technology. We believe that through compelling narratives creative media can raise awareness about the issues, demonstrate innovative solutions and ultimately help shape policy, opinions and actions around health and health care.
  • Economic Justice and Systemic Poverty: We believe that film and other creative media projects can play important roles in illuminating the consequences of systemic poverty on vulnerable populations and showcasing innovative solutions. We recognize that so many human injustices relate directly to pervasive and cyclical poverty and that a sustainable solution has yet to surface. We also recognize that many people still do not understand the depth, breadth and complexity of the poverty challenge and that the voices of those living in poverty are often the most important tools for rallying the world around this problem. Therefore, we look for creative media projects that have a strong potential ability to bring a broader awareness of systemic poverty and its consequences and encourage compassionate and evidenced based solutions to it. We are optimistic about the creative responses that are emerging around the world and hope that creative media can help inspire an exponential growth in the support of this work.
  • Education Experiences: We believe whole-heartedly that fixing America's broken education system is a large part of the solution for so many other challenges plaguing our country. We know that all stakeholders - students, parents, teachers and administrators, non-profits, corporations and local and federal government must play a role and that the time to fix it is long over due. We seek creative media projects that highlight the complexities of the educational reform issue and, above all, share potential solutions. We are interested in the broad scope of what happens during the school day for students, including but not limited to: school nutrition, teacher quality, curriculum and testing strategies, peer relations and bullying, and race, class and gender issues within the classroom. We hope that the creative media we support within this portfolio will bring new energy and urgency to education reform in America and help stakeholders make connections between all of these issues that happen within the education experience.
  • Justice System: With an interest in both prevention and reform, we look for projects that help elevate the national dialogue around our justice system. We hope that the creative media projects we support will help inform the public about the policy decisions that have led our country to be the world leader in incarceration. We are especially interested in racism, sexism, disenfranchisement, and the collateral consequences after release that are pervasive within the system. In addition, we look for projects that demonstrate replicable solutions because we believe that there is a way to have a more humane and rehabilitative system.
  • Special Projects: Occasionally, The Fledgling Fund provides support for projects that fall outside of the topic areas listed above. While we are proud to support these projects, they do not represent high priority topics for The Fledgling Fund. Instead, they are unique projects where we believe our funding can play a strategic and timely role in addressing an entrenched social problem that may fall outside of our pre-defined categories.
  • Field Building: The Fledgling Fund supports a limited number of initiatives within the creative media field that we believe increase the quality, scope and impact of social issue creative media. These grants range from support for residencies or programs that build the capacity of our grantees and other social issue filmmakers and support their work in achieving social change to support for awards or film festivals that have a particular focus on using creative media for social change.

We consider creative media projects in two funding cycles as outlined below. Projects that wish to be considered for funding must submit a letter of inquiry using the online form as a first step in the application process. From these initial inquiries, smaller pools of applicants are invited to submit a full application. If your project is selected to move to the next step in our application process, we will request additional material such as footage, or other work samples as well as a detailed budget. Applicants will also be asked about their goals for the project and its potential to affect social change. Please note that we do not return DVD's to applicants after the application process has completed.

If you are requesting funding for outreach and audience engagement, you will also be asked for an initial plan that outlines the project's goals and objectives, audience engagement strategies and your plans for assessing the impact of the project. To read more about how we assess the impact of creative media, please read our paper "Assessing Creative Media's Social Impact".

The Fledgling Fund only makes grants to 501(c) 3 organizations. While an initial Letter of Inquiry may be submitted by a film production company or an individual, you will be required to submit documentation from your fiscal sponsor before a grant can be processed. Therefore, we suggest beginning the process of securing a fiscal sponsor upon applying. If you are an international applicant, you must have a U.S.-based fiscal sponsor.

Funding Cycles

Funding Cycle Opens Online: August 13th, 2012
Deadline for Initial Letter of Inquiry: September 17th, 2012, midnight EST
* Please note that after this date the online Letter of Inquiry form will not be available until the next funding cycle opens
Applicants Notified as to Request Status: October 23rd, 2012
Materials Due by Invited Applicants: November 14th, 2012
Applicants Notified as to Outcome of their Request: January 31st, 2013

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