"Helping Stories Take Flight" is the tagline of New York based Fledgling Fund (See Fledgling Fund: Grants for Film and Documentaries). Its ethos is that film can "inspire a better world," and the fund's goal is to do this by supporting innovative media projects that address social ills and effect some sort of positive, tangible change. It does this through its own funding and through partnerships with other foundations. Grants range anywhere from $300 to $50,000, but average around $10,000 to $35,000.
The Fledgling Fund is a relatively young organization (Read founder and president Diana Barrett's IP profile, as well as executive director Sheila Leddy's IP profile). Its Creative Media Program was launched in 2005, but it has already developed a strong social networking presence and funded close to 300 projects to the tune of $9.5 million. Its focus is strictly on projects with a strong social activist perspective and it looks to connect with initatives that promote awareness and education about a certain issue, increase community engagement around that issue (both online and off), and ultimate connect people through a "common story."
The Fledgling Fund does not hold open calls for grants. It requires that potential applicants submit a Letter of Inquiry, which is reviewed, then qualifying projects are notified and invited to submit full applications. The process is fairly streamlined and all of the deadlines and other info is helpfully provided in detail online. Even though it doesn't hold open calls, the process is quite transparent as the Fund is trying to cast its net as far and wide as possible to connect with filmmakers who share common goals.
Some of its partnerships include the Ford Foundation (See Ford Foundation: Grants for Film) and the Atlanta-based Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The projects it's interested in funding revolve around many of the "big issues," like human rights, economic justice, the environment, judicial and health care reform, and equality issues. A list of past films that have been funded can be viewed here.
The Fledgling Fund is run by a small, but committed group of people, including President Diana Barrett and Executive Director Sheila Leddy. It is an engaged group that welcomes questions about the fund and can be contacted here.