Ever wonder how to navigate the maze of potential funding opportunities for community-based organizations seeking to improve access to services for survivors?

By: Olivia Garcia, Ph.D. and Rosie Hidalgo, J.D., Esperanza United

Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault often face a myriad of challenges when trying to seek safety and justice. Moreover, it is well-known that there is no “one-size-fits all” approach to providing assistance to and for survivors. Survivors from historically marginalized racial and ethnic communities  often face intersecting challenges, including additional economic barriers, challenges dealing with the criminal justice system, inadequate language access, barriers to accessing health care, challenges navigating multiple systems,  vulnerabilities  related to immigration status and discrimination, and risks of further isolation or unintended consequences when trying to seek assistance. These issues have a disproportionate impact on marginalized racial and ethnic communities and often result in additional layers of complexity in providing survivors with assistance and resources.

As a national culturally specific resource center, Esperanza United (formerly Casa de Esperanza) often gets questions about federal funding opportunities. Specifically, community based organizations want to better understand which funds are available at the federal and state levels and how organizations working to end gender based violence and improve access to services for survivors in Latin@ communities can get connected to those funding opportunities. Improving access to funding can enable culturally specific, community-based organizations to further develop and expand innovative and comprehensive programs to ensure that more survivors seek and receive services that promote their safety and well-being. Furthermore, it is imperative to foster capacity building and access to resources in culturally specific communities to support the development of holistic strengths-based and trauma- informed approaches to better address and prevent intimate partner violence.

Esperanza United created a Policy Boletín, entitled “Accessing Federal Resources to Enhance Services for Survivors from Culturally Specific Communities,” to answer these frequently asked questions and provide background information on the different federal programs that offer funding opportunities. While there is a need to continue to engage in advocacy to improve access to funding for culturally specific community based organizations that help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, we also want to help organizations better understand current federal funding resources and how those are distributed at the state and federal level.

Funding Streams

The Boletín focuses on three main funding streams created by federal legislation through the Family Violence Protection and Services Act (FVPSA), the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). The funds appropriated by Congress each year support the numerous programs funded at the national and state level through these different pieces of legislation.   Whereas FVPSA is administered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the VAWA and VOCA grants are administered through the U.S. Department of Justice.

Types of Grants

It is important to understand that some of the funding is available by applying directly to federal agencies that administer discretionary grant programs, such as the Grants to Enhance Grants to Enhance Culturally Specific Services for Victims of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program, which are administered by the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice.  However, a lot of the federal funds are distributed to the states through what are known as formula grants (based on a formula that determines how much money goes to each state and territory), and each state has a State Administrator that oversees the development of a state plan, with community input, and the distribution of those funds to organizations that apply for funding within each state.  The Boletín provides a lot of useful information about the different grant programs and additional resources and weblinks to learn more about these funding opportunities.

Understanding Federal Funding that is Distributed by the States

An initial focus of the Boletín is helping community-based organizations learn how your state allocates funds that come from federal formula grants. Some questions to ask yourself and your co-workers are:

  • Do you know who the State Administrator(s) are for the FVPSA, VAWA, and VOCA funds that come to your state for distribution?
  • Is there an opportunity for your organization to be involved in providing input in the state planning process to ensure that the needs of survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities and underserve populations are addressed?
  • How can culturally specific community-based programs apply for these funds at the state level?

The Boletín, has lots of details on funding opportunities provided through FVPSA, VAWA and VOCA grants, as well as links to helpful resources including how to contact the State Administrators in your state for additional information.

More Resources and Training Opportunities

We will be hosting a webinar Tuesday, November 10th 2 p.m. ET about this Boletín to provide an overview and dialogue with community-based organizations about how to access federal and state resources to improve access to services and support for survivors. 

You can download the Boletín below and we would appreciate it if you share this resource with other organizations that might be interested. We thank you for providing us the opportunity to collaborate with you to improve access to resources and enhance services and support for survivors from culturally specific communities!