Funding Opportunity: Generation Equality – Supporting a New Wave of Youth-Led Activism for Gender Equality

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Funding Opportunity: Generation Equality – Supporting a New Wave of Youth-Led Activism for Gender Equality

October 21

Deadline: October 21,  2020 – 11:30am PDT, 0930 pm EAT


The Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 in Beijing was heralded as a landmark moment for gender equality, both because of the declaration and platform developed at the conference and because of the more than 30,000 feminists gathered from around the world to jointly strategize for a better world.

25 years later, despite many hard-fought victories and leaps forward, the gender equality agenda still suffers from insufficient funding, regressive policies and social norms, and poor accountability.In some parts of the world, active opposition and roll backs on rights mean that advocates are fighting just to hold ground, and new threats like the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to further unravel progress.

As we look ahead to the opportunity afforded by the Beijing+25 anniversary, then—particularly through the platform provided by the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) events organized by UN Women, Mexico, France, and civil society partners in 2021—we have the chance to advance progress on the Beijing agenda by securing bold new commitments to achieving gender equality to match the bold rhetoric that was adopted 25 years ago.

We will not achieve these new commitments without strong, focused advocacy all around the world, directed at those who hold power and resources: government policy makers, corporate leaders, media, and more.  And the GEF will not live up to its name or its potential without centering and amplifying the creativity and demands of young people and in particular young Black women, indigenous women, and other women of color, who are often marginalized or tokenized on global stages such as these.

In order to support a stronger wave of youth-led advocacy in 2021 and beyond, and in order to specifically seek out and fund young leaders from underrepresented and marginalized identities and communities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is issuing an open request for proposals from groups interested in carrying out advocacy work in support of the GEF. We will invest in a portfolio of up to 10 recipients at $50,000 each, for a total of $500,000 allocated. These 12-month grants provided will each support:

  • Up to 40% of resources (≤ $20,000) for core organizational activities and capacity.
  • At least 60% of resources (≥ $30,000) specifically allocated to advocacy activities around the GEF and/or in-country advocacy focused on one of the six GEF Action Coalition themes.

We hope to leave space for diverse and creative ideas, so have not recommended a prescribed approach to what this advocacy should look like and leave that to the discretion of applicants to define.


Key Dates  Event 
September 10, 2020  Submission period opens
October 21, 2020. 11:30a.m. U.S. PDT  Submission deadline
December, 2020 Finalists selected and notified
February, 2021 Estimated start date for awarded projects


  • To be considered, applicants must:
    • Have executives or leadership teams primarily (>60%) comprised of girls, young women and/or trans and intersex youth, under the age of 30.
    • Be a registered organization or submit as part of a collective application where at least one participant is legally registered and able to receive grant funding from a U.S. private foundation. Note: If applying under a fiscal sponsor, please include that organization under “Organization Name” in the application site.
    • Demonstrate some familiarity with the Generation Equality Forum and/or the Beijing+25 processes, even if there has not been deep engagement to-date.
    • Present a clear vision for how their work will result in policy and/or resource commitments and a theory of change that links to commitments.
    • Demonstrate an ability to effectively champion gender equality priorities with key decision makers.
  • Additional preference and weight will be given to:
    • Applicants led by girls, young women, and/or trans and intersex youth who are Black, indigenous, or people of color.
    • Applicants headquartered in the global south.
    • Applicants that have not previously received direct Gates Foundation funding.
  • We will NOT consider funding for:
    • Individual applicants.
    • Applicants who seek to use funds for:
      • Direct service provision (eg: distributing health care services, developing or selling goods or products).
      • Direct or grassroots lobbying on legislative matters.

Note: Depending on the tax status of the applicant organization, and if your proposal is selected as a finalist, you may be required to complete additional documentation as part of the grant making process.


A preview of the application instructions and template can be found here. However, to apply you must select the “Apply” button in the upper corner of this page and log into the application portal. You are required to submit either Microsoft Word® or PDF document; no more than four pages in length, including a one-page budget. Please do not include a cover sheet with your proposal. A cover sheet will be automatically generated from your registration data.


Due to the large number of proposals anticipated, applicants with proposals that are not selected for award will receive a notification of decline without specific feedback.

The proposal review process will be executed in four steps:

  1. The first step consists of screening proposals to evaluate whether proposals address the key needs described in the topic. We screen for responses that are completely unrelated or specifically excluded in the topic description. Excluded responses encompass ideas related to the topic but that, for strategic reasons, we are not funding under this initiative. Applicants with proposals removed from consideration during the screening process will be notified that their proposals were declined but will not receive specific feedback.
  2. In the second step, reviews are conducted by reviewers both outside and within the foundation. Reviewers are comprised of both experts in the topic area and experts in complementary areas. Not all reviewers have deep expertise in the topic; please consider this information when drafting your proposal.
  3. The third step is the validation and final selection of the proposals to be funded by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee may recommend the proposal be funded, subject to specific modifications which will be negotiated as part of the award process.
  4. The fourth and final step is a due diligence review and to directly discuss and negotiate any adjustments to the proposed project recommended by the Executive Committee. Investigators will be contacted as part of the due diligence review.


To identify and avoid conflicts of interest among reviewers, reviewers will not be permitted to review proposals from organizations with which the reviewer has self-identified conflicts of interest.


Answers to many application questions can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions document available within the application portal. Please read this document before submitting any questions or concerns.


The RFP Terms and Conditions are available here. You will be required to agree to the Terms and Conditions as part of the submission process.


Please submit questions about this initiative, selection criteria, or application instructions by e-mail to the following address: [email protected].

Proposals must be submitted prior to the deadline of 11:30am U.S. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on October 21, 2020. 


October 21
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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation