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For Grant Seekers

In 2015, JustFilms is granting to independently-produced social justice film and digital projects in the foundation’s priority areas, as well as to organizations that focus on this work globally. Please note that 2015 will be a transition year for the foundation: JustFilms will be completing the final year of its first 5-year plan and transitioning to the foundation’s new structure for 2016 and beyond. Because of existing commitments, announced for 2011-2015, the majority of JustFilms funding is allocated. We encourage grantseekers to review our criteria closely and explore our regrantor opportunities.

What We Fund

  • Content: Independently-produced film and digital projects highlighting social justice issues that are Ford Foundation priorities. Full proposals invited through open letter of inquiry process—see below.
  • Field Infrastructure, Sustainability and Leadership: Organizations that support the creation and innovative distribution of quality independent, fact-based film and digital media, including Sundance Institute, the Independent Television Service, Tribeca Film Institute, BritDoc Foundation and others. Full proposals invited through open letter of inquiry process—see below.
  • Impact: Fellowships, workshops, research and opportunities for field leaders whose work advances the creativity, sustainability, impact and social justice-focus of independent film and digital storytelling. Invitation-only, and special opportunities posted on the website.

Considerations When Applying for a Content Grant

JustFilms accepts letters of inquiry for content grants year-round. Every year we receive between 800 and 1,000 inquiries. Due to the limited nature of our funds, we are able to support only a small percentage of these projects through direct grants. JustFilms strongly advises that you use the priorities and guiding application questions below to determine whether your project might be competitive in this process. Please note that JustFilms also makes several partnership grants, which are allocated as described here. We invite you to explore whether your project might be better suited for support through one of these JustFilms partners.

Priorities for Content Grants

Projects submitted for JustFilms content grants will be judged on the basis of:

  • Artistic excellence
  • contemporary relevance
  • Potential for strategic impact
  • Alignment with Ford Foundation priorities
  • Potential to transform stereotypes, beliefs and value systems
  • Creativity and innovation in form
  • Focus on marginalized and vulnerable populations.

To Apply for a Grant

Please direct your inquiry to the Office of the Secretary at secretary@fordfoundation.org as an email with the subject “JustFilms Letter of Inquiry: [Title of project or initiative]," and your letter attached as a Word document or PDF. You will receive an automated reply from our office upon receipt of the materials.

Please note that we have very limited staffing, and are sorry that we cannot respond to each applicant directly. We do not have the capacity to respond individually to phone calls or emails asking about the status of your application. If you receive an invitation for a full proposal, the entire review and decision process may take between 30 and 50 business days, given a number of variables specific to each grant. If you do not hear from JustFilms again within 30 business days of submitting your application, your project has not advanced in consideration.

Please include with your letter of inquiry:

  • Contact name and email
  • Name of your organization / production company
  • Project title
  • Project logline (25 words maximum)
  • Total budget
  • Amount requested from JustFilms
  • Other funding sources that you have secured
  • Other funding sources to which you have applied
  • Names of any Ford Foundation staff you have contacted about your work
  • List of any currently available visual materials (trailers, selects, rough cut) available for JustFilms to view upon request (please include approximate running times)

Questions to guide your letter of inquiry

  • How does your project align with Ford Foundation’s social justice mission and major thematic lines of work? Include specific examples, using our website to research current initiatives.
  • Is your project independently produced, and does the final editorial control lie with the filmmaker or project team (i.e., not commissioned work-for-hire, commercially contracted, or otherwise compromised in terms of editorial independence)?
  • Is your project designed to question or reframe stereotypes and/or traditional beliefs around your subject? Please describe how your project will transform existing beliefs and values.
  • Is your project designed to aesthetically expand or redefine film or digital storytelling genres? If so, how?
  • Does your project aim to help viewers connect the dots between foundation priority areas—for instance, exploring the relationship of climate change to labor practices, natural resource extraction, land rights and migration? Or the intersections of gender, education, poverty and asset ownership?
  • Does your project have significant contemporary relevance?
  • Does your project feature the perspectives and/or experiences of vulnerable populations?
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