Film Independent, producer of the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, partners each year with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (See Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Grants for Journalism and the Arts) to provide a $25,000 Sloan Producers Grant for the development of narrative films with scientific, mathematical, or technological themes. These grants are available to Film Independent Producing Lab Fellows and are in keeping with the Sloan Foundation's goal of encouraging "next-generation" filmmakers to create accessible films about science and technology (Read IP's profile on Sloan vice president of programs, Doron Webber). It also offers a $15,000 Sloan Fast Track Grant to a project in the Film Independent program which adheres to the Sloan Foundation's mission. But those are only two of the number of grants Film Independent provides.
While the Sloan Foundation backs the grants with its namesake, Film Independent also offers a number of other gifts and fellowships, most of which are aimed at filmmakers involved in one or more of their ongoing programs and labs. Since 1995 Film Independent has distributed over $860,000 to their fellowship partners and provides additional help through a variety of in-kind production grants, such as Dolby mastering services, Panavision camera packages, and post-production services, among many other things.
In addition to the Sloan grants, each year Film Independent publicly announces three $25,000 Filmmaker Grants at the Spirit Awards ceremony. The Someone to Watch Award, the Truer Than Fiction Award, and the Producers Award are all done through a nomination process and more info on them can be found here.
Even though some of these gifts can seem a bit insider-y at times, Film Independent wants to make itself accessible. The real inside track here is to look into becoming a Film Independent Fellow. That will open the doors to a number of different avenues of financing and the like. They offer a head-spinning number of workshops and labs, and subsequent "donor-named" fellowships, such as the HBO Documentary Fellowship, Sony Diversity Fellowship, and Giorgio Armani Directing Fellowship, among many others (all falling into the $10,000 range).
Take a look at the applications and deadlines info and dig into what Film Independent has to offer. It may not suit every filmmaker, but there's quite a lot there to digest.