We are preparing to receive applications for our fall  cycle. Here is a message from us announcing changes in 2020. Read through the sidebar of this webpage to learn about this year's process, and scroll below for more detail about the intent of this grant category.

We support initiatives that target the root causes of complex problems. Our Systems Change Accelerator grants invest in collaborative problem solving that is different than business as usual, shifting resources, structures and mindsets for lasting change.

We must make lasting progress on the complex problems that hold our community back, like hunger, homelessness and climate change. This requires us to work differently, investigating the roots of complex problems that are found in the context, or system, around them. We are here to help you learn about and catalyze Systems Change - find additional resources here.



We are not limited to specific issue areas. We are open to initiatives proposing a systems change solution to a complex problem that keeps our neighbors or environment from being resilient. Systems change often requires many activities including several organizations - a "constellation of actions" to make lasting progress on an issue. This grant can be used for innovations that are intended to change systems by shifting the underlying structures that keep problems in place: like changes in system practices, policies, resources, information flows, relationships, power dynamics and mindsets. We like this framework on systems change structures fromm FSG.



We evaluate every grant application using our Guiding Principles as a lens.  Review our criteria in more detail here before applying.


Are you ready to catalyze systems change?

Systems Change is driven by intentional, inclusive problem solving processes that are different from business as usual. This grant is available to initiatives that have done significant groundwork together before applying:

  • Built a team of diverse stakeholders that have worked together to see the complex problem from many angles and perspectives

  • Identified and prioritized leverage points for change

  • Designed a constellation of actions that will impact those leverage points to change the system that is creating the problem

  • Established partnership agreements with organizations that will implement your constellation of actions, leveraging each party’s unique assets 

  • Built structures to stay connected with others working in the targeted system who are not directly involved in the current initiative

Getting ready

We support the convening, engaging, investigating and planning activities that will prepare you for a Systems Change Accelerator initiative.

  • Seed Grants provide funding to support your preparatory work.

  • Learning about new ways to approach complex problems can be funded through our Changemaker Fellowship.

  • Use and build on the toolkit for systems change.

  • Developing an understanding of the targeted system and identifying leverage points for change with partners is required for applicants - your process is your choice. We partner with +Acumen and The Omidyar Group to offer the Systems Practice Course, now available as you are ready to enter into this work with your stakeholder group, with the support of a local consultant. Applying Systems Thinking and Common Archetypes is another course available online that could support your preparatory work. Neither course is a pre-requisite for this grant.

  • We offer learning experiences throughout the year to bring changemakers together for shared learning and relationship building around systems change work. Take a look at our Events Calendar.


The systems change approach to social change is relatively new. Not many funders and changemakers are organizing their work in this way. We have a lot to learn in this area and we are committed to learning alongside our grantees.


Your commitment

Rather than requiring grantees to implement a traditional evaluation process, we ask you to demonstrate your commitment to learning. Grantees commit to the following:

  • Designate a Learning Steward from your initiative and budget for their time. Grant funds and/or match may be used for this person’s time. You are encouraged to designate a Learning Steward from an organization that is familiar with your system, but not from the primary fiscal agent for this proposal.

  • Create a customized Learning Plan. Your Learning Steward, and any other appropriate members of your initiative, will work with Rotary Charities staff and consultants to create learning processes custom to your team to help you collect information and stories documenting your team’s unique learning journey, and help us all notice early signals of a changing system together.

  • Join our quarterly Systems Change Community of Practice. Your Learning Steward is required to attend, and any other members of your initiative are welcome. The Community of Practice will be a facilitated group focused on learning and co-designed around the needs of the cohort.

  • Capture and share your team’s unique learning journey.


Our commitment
  • Working with Learning Stewards to articulate processes that will help document each team’s learning.

  • Providing skilled facilitation for the Community of Practice that will create a safe space to share and explore successes and challenges.

  • Amplifying each team’s story (with permission) through our new communications strategy. We hope to help inspire others, build the body of knowledge around this type of work, and attract more resources.