For Grant Seekers
Beginning in 2011, we are investing $10 million a year over five years in documentary projects that address urgent social issues and help us understand our past, explore our present and build our future. Our goal is to expand the community of emerging and established filmmakers who often lack funding, and help them to realize their visions and reach audiences.
What We Fund
JustFilms focuses on film, video and digital works that show courageous people confronting difficult issues and actively pursuing a more just, secure and sustainable world. Initiative funds will be distributed through three distinct paths:
- Partnerships with major organizations such as the Sundance Institute, the Independent Television Service and the Tribeca Film Institute
- Collaboration with other Ford Foundation grant-making programs where the introduction of documentary film could help draw attention to an issue or advance a movement, and
- An ongoing open-application process that will help JustFilms stay attuned to fresh ideas and stories wherever they may emerge.
Approximately one-third of JustFilms support is dedicated to finding projects through our open-application process. If you would like to seek a grant for your documentary, we ask that you take the time to review a few questions that set the basic criteria for the work we are likely to support and will help you determine whether your project will be considered for funding.
- Does the subject of your project align with our mission? Does it have a social justice focus or theme?
- Does your project fit into any of the following categories: Health, sports, early childhood, advocacy, educational, scientific, industrial? Or, is it a student film, feature film, or fictional television show? If so, it is not eligible for funding. In addition, we do not fund university academic programs.
- International subjects: Does the Ford Foundation have an office in the region where your film occurs? If yes, you will need to contact that regional office first to gain support for consideration before applying for a JustFilms grant. If we do not have an office in the region where your project takes place, it is not eligible for funding.
Exception: If you are a filmmaker from outside the Arab region who is interested in producing documentary work about the region, you may submit your application by following the instructions below. You do not need to contact our Middle East and North Africa office before doing so.
- Finally, do you have a trailer, selects or a rough cut we can review? If no, then we recommend you apply when your project is more evolved.
What We Do Not Fund
JustFilms only makes grants to films that relate to our social justice focus. Again, we do not fund films related to the following:
- Projects in pre-production
- Health issues
- Sports issues
- Early childhood issues
- Projects for educational purposes
- Student projects
- Advocacy projects
- Fictional television shows
- International projects that do not focus on a region where Ford works
After reviewing the four eligibility questions and reading about what we do not fund, if you still believe your project is eligible for support, you may apply for a grant through the online application process that begins below.
At the end of the application process, you will be given the option to attach a document to the form.
For documentary film and media support, we request a letter be attached with a brief description of your project and creative approach, the primary purpose of the project, the current stage of the project, and whether any other funds have been raised for the film. This letter should also include your brief responses to the Eligibility Questions previously listed.
To Apply for a Grant
Follow these steps:
- Review the Initiative(s) most relevant to your work.
- Read our JustFilms Grant Application Guide, which describes our grant-making process.
- If you determine that your work aligns with our priorities, submit a Grant Inquiry. (While we welcome submissions, please keep in mind that our funds are limited in relation to the large number of worthwhile inquiries we receive. In a typical year, less than 1 percent of unsolicited inquiries result in a grant.)
It is important that you use our grant inquiry form—and refrain from contacting program officers directly. Given the volume of inquiries we receive, this allows us to log, track and respond quickly to your application.
The vast majority of foundation grants go to organizations. We provide a very limited number of fellowship opportunities for individuals through the Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships Program, which aims to diversify the faculties of American colleges and universities.
The foundation does not have any other active fellowship opportunities at this time.