Small Grants Program

Starting in 2002, EarthRights International has awarded small financial grants to EarthRights Schools alumni to head up small community-based projects in Burma and throughout the Mekong region.  Each project is developed by the alumni with a particular focus in defending human rights and environmental protection (what we call earthrights).  

Alumni develop their projects with their target communities in mind, often directly involving villagers and community leaders in their proposals.  EarthRights staff dedicate their time to supporting alumni through the grant writing process, encouraging them to apply the skills and knowledge learned during their time at EarthRights Schools.

The program awards grants of approximately $2,000 (USD) to directly support alumni projects and their organizations.  By applying for these grants, alumni receive invaluable experience so that they may apply for other funding sources more easily in the future, helping to better focus and plan their projects. 

Who are the ERS Alumni?
EarthRights School graduates are an inspiring group of young-adults from across Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and China, dedicated to defending human rights, the environment and social justice.  Coming from a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, religions and geographic locations, they bring a remarkable passion to help local people at the community level to improve their lives and communities.  

History of Small Grants Program
The Small Grants Program began as a result of a generous donation from Daniel C. Clark, a close friend and supporter of ERI.  During its inaugural year, Clark visited the EarthRights School Burma and was deeply impressed with the school and the enthusiasm and engagement of the young activists attending.  A year after his visit, Clark passed away.  Clark and his family decided they wanted to support the work of alumni beyond his death, thus creating the Daniel C. Clark Memorial Fund.  They endowed $100,000 (USD) to ERI to support alumni in their future projects and goals.  This generous donation allowed ERI to grant $6,000 per year in small grants.  Today, the Small Grants Program has increased to $10,000 per year and has grown to include additional funding from partner organizations.

Purpose of the Small Grants Program
The purpose of the Small Grants Program is to support the future ambitions of the EarthRights alumni, adding momentum to their work in human rights, environmental protection and community activism.  The hope is that these young adults will continue to work for human rights and environmental justice and evolve into a strong and capable network of agents for positive and effective social change. 

Process for Applying for the Small Grants Program
The Small Grants Program awards grants twice per year and is offered to all EarthRights Schools alumni.  ERI staff work closely with alumni throughout the granting process, a process involving developing and writing their proposals, preparing their applications and making necessary edits.  Alumni receive constant feedback from ERI staff, advisors and volunteers in order to strengthen their grant proposal skills and become more self-sufficient in these skills.
This process also provides alumni with direct experience in project and financial management, giving alumni a practical sense of how to prepare a viable grant budget while at the same time implementing projects that will benefit their communities.  Alumni are encouraged to quantify each budget expense to ensure every expense has a specific purpose for their project.

Types of Proposals and Selection Process
Since its commencement, ERI has received various grant proposal projects including research, training, publications and documentary production, among others.  Alumni have chosen a wide range of project themes involving the environment, human rights, sustainable agriculture, education, community organizing, women’s issues and more.

The Small Grants Program uses a selective process when awarding its grants, selecting those projects that are most viable, sustainable, and align closely with the mission of ERI.  They are based on the quality of the project planned, innovation and commitment to meeting specific needs in communities.  Special attention is given to those projects that address the needs of women and vulnerable populations.  
ERI has proudly witnessed the impact of the Small Grants Program on the alumni and the communities touched by these projects.  Alumni have shown incredible growth and increased knowledge while maintaining an exceptional dedication to social change.  Long-term sustainability of the Small Grants Program is of extreme importance to ERI, to successfully support the future work of alumni as well as foster the next generation of earthrights activists.