2022 Community Trailblazer Award: Advancing Racial Justice

Michigan is becoming more diverse but our state ranks among the worst for racial equity and inclusion, especially for Black residents. Since 2020, we have seen countless racial injustices and tragedies targeting Black and Brown communities across the nation and we felt a responsibility to use our network to take action and create more opportunities for underrepresented individuals. We can’t achieve our organization’s mission without addressing systemic racism, racial justice, and racial equity in Michigan. When Patrick Lyoya was murdered in Grand Rapids earlier this year, we knew our 2022 grantmaking efforts needed to advance racial justice.

We are using Race Forward’s definitions for racial justice and racial equity as we implement this year’s award. 

  • Racial Justice is a vision and transformation of society to eliminate racial hierarchies and advance collective liberation, where Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, in particular, have the dignity, resources, power, and self-determination to fully thrive.
  • Racial equity is a process of eliminating racial disparities and improving outcomes for everyone. It is the intentional and continual practice of changing policies, practices, systems, and structures by prioritizing measurable change in the lives of people of color.

Award Details

This year, we’re offering the MFF Community Trailblazer Award to Black, Michigan-based community leaders and Black-led organizations and nonprofits. Eligible awardees:

  • Are working to advance racial equity or racial justice for Black residents;
  • Are leading initiatives that have potential to be replicable or grow to impact even more people;
  • Are supported by collaborators or volunteers;
  • Have a track record of leading successful initiatives;
  • Are interested in connecting with Michigan’s startup community (i.e. accessing networks, brainstorming ideas and solutions, implementing tech, and more).

We will award three leaders or organizations to receive financial support and collaboration from MFF’s startup network:

  • MFF will award one leader $10,000 and two leaders $2,500 to carry out their work. 
  • Awardees will also have the opportunity to engage with the MFF network in ways that can help further their mission – from expanding community support, to accessing people and networks, to solving problems in technology, and more.
  • Awardees do not have to be members of MFF, have any affiliation to MFF, or have any connection to the startup network prior to applying to this award. This award is open to nonprofits, community leaders, and others who meet the eligibility requirements.

Applications are due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 2

Program Timeline

Below is the anticipated timeline for this program. All dates are subject to change.

  • August 24 – October 2: Applications open
  • October 3 – 14: Submissions reviewed by Community Council
  • October 17: Awardees identified
  • November 17 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm on Zoom: Education & networking with MFF members. Awardees are invited to a virtual event with the MFF network to share more information about their initiative and engage with tech founders. Awardees are offered a small honorarium for participating in this event.
  • November 21: Financial contributions finalized & public announcement 
  • April 2023: Trailblazer Roundtables. After six months, finalists are invited to join a session with MFF members for an opportunity to share successes, challenges, and lessons so far. If necessary, leaders can use this time to work with the MFF network to solve problems, ideate solutions, do more education, or make specific requests for support.
  • October 2023: Check-in calls & storytelling. After 12 months, finalists are encouraged to share what they learned, achieved, and aspects they’re still struggling with. If possible, the MFF network may be able to continue support efforts or collaborate with leaders moving forward.

Apply Now

Applications can be submitted by the online form below (preferred) or by audio message. If you want to nominate a community leader for this award, complete this form and we will send the application directly to the community leader (the nominee will still need to complete the application form below).

View a full version of the application and evaluation rubric here and feel free to join one of our info sessions for more information:

Please contact [email protected] or 313-530-3067 with questions.

The application period has closed. We are no longer accepting applications.

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