Thousand Currents: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: Thousand Currents 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. Thousand Currents favors grassroots groups with the potential to affect positive change at the local level.

PROFILE: Established in 1985 and based in San Francisco, California and formerly known as the International Development Exchange or IDEX, Thousand Currents seeks to alleviate poverty around the world. Thousand Currents 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. The foundation invests in "[l]eaders on the front lines who are shaping solutions to these urgent issues" in order to better contribute to a "[j]ust and sustainable world for all." To facilitate its goals, Thousand Currents empowers 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. The foundation invests in a number of global development causes such as climate change, economic development, poverty alleviation and women's empowerment. Areas of grantmaking interests vary by region.

Thousand Currents makes grants by invitation only. Grant partnerships 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.  

The foundation 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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