IDEX Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: IDEX supports efforts to empower women, create economic development, and address climate change as it relates to the lives and livelihoods of local communities.

IP TAKE: This foundation awards a select few grants annually. This is because once it selects its grantees, it offers up to six years of support. IDEX favors grassroots groups with the potential to affect positive change at the local level.

PROFILE: Established in 1985 and based in San Francisco, California, the International Development Exchange (IDEX) seeks to alleviate poverty around the world. IDEX supports hundreds of predominantly grassroots organizations that work in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. While IDEX also supports poverty relief efforts across the Global South, it prioritizes organizations that work in Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. IDEX seeks to invest in "leaders on the front lines who are shaping solutions to these urgent issues" in order to better contribute to a "just and sustainable world for all." To facilitate its goals, IDEX works to empower local citizens by investing in organizations led by women or indigenous persons. Indeed, its theory of change reflects a deep commitment to creating transformational and sustainable change by supporting leaders from underserved and vulnerable communities that best understand the concerns and issues from within these communities. It invests in three programs: food sovereignty, alternative economies and climate justice

The foundation’s food sovereignty program adopts a holistic approach, which recognizes people's right to "define their own food systems." For IDEX, food sovereignty surpasses the notion of food security. While both concepts suggest that every person must have adequate food, food security does not encompass the source of food, or the economic and environmental costs regarding its origin or how it is produced. In contrast, food sovereignty is a "rights-based approach to food and agriculture."

Its program dedicated to alternative economies acknowledges that global market-based economic systems overlook the needs of traditional economies built by indigenous communities over thousands of years. As a result, IDEX supports anti-poverty organizations that create skills building, micro-finance, inclusion, and increasing local knowledge and wealth, among other concerns. 

Lastly, IDEX's climate change grantmaking invests in the "right[s] of local communities, those on the frontlines of climate change, to participate in shaping solutions." In doing so, IDEX hopes to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change by empowering leaders from underrepresented and vulnerable populations. 

IDEX also awards grants to empower young people in its geographic regions of focus. Areas of grantmaking interests vary by region.

IDEX grants are made by invitation only, and generally begin with what the foundation refers to as "catalyst grants," which are small awards of about $5,000. Catalyst grant periods typically run for six to 12 months.  

IDEX begins its grantee partnerships with small awards in order to assess an organization’s work before fully committing to long-term funding. Once the foundation decides to offer an organization a three- to six-year “partnership” opportunity, grant awards typically begin at $15,000.


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