Our Approach

Our grantmaking is structured around our initiatives rather than traditional grants or grant cycles. Underpinning all of our initiatives is a core set of values informed by our time and experiences as grant-seekers, non-profit leaders, teachers, community members, and volunteers. These values were developed in response to what we found most frustrating and ineffective in our interactions with funders and foundations and designed to reflect a different approach to meeting the needs of those seeking support.


We prioritize problem-solving over paperwork; streamlined processes and straightforward communication over cumbersome reporting and quarterly grant cycles. We try to meet our community where they are and act with the same sense of urgency that the issues deserve.


Can one say one’s humble and actually be humble? We hope so! It means that we know that no one institution has all — or even a few — of the answers. We also know that our community of Fellows, Catalyst grantees, Prize awardees, judges, and partners have far greater insight into the issues and solutions than we ever will. We follow their lead.


Philanthropists — and foundations in particular — need to take more risks. Period. At TRF, we emphasize experimentation, creativity, and risk-taking for ourselves and seek it out from those organizations and individuals we support.


To achieve large scale, systemic social change we (all of us) need as many talented individuals, from all walks of life, to play a role (big or small). Social change is a communal endeavor and the more people from different and diverse backgrounds who are engaged in this work the better.


No one has a lock on a great idea or a world-changing initiative. Change can be generated by any individual, team, organization, or business whose creativity and imagination redefine notions of what can be done and how. There are no disqualifiers.

No Silver Bullets

No one idea or organization will solve poverty, income inequality, hunger or any of the myriad issues we seek to address. Complex problems require sophisticated, thoughtful solutions. While we love big and bold ideas, we are not looking for one single path or “magic” approach — even if it is an app.