Frequently Asked Questions

How does this RFP fit with the overall goal of the H&LS initiative? 

The mission of the H&LS is to address systemic inequities by developing and advancing visible, lasting, and effective action grounded in Harvard’s educational mission and guided by the recommendations and findings of the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery. This RFP will directly advance the H&LS mission by funding innovative and achievable proposals that address systemic inequities affecting descendant communities (i.e., people harmed by slavery). We are really looking forward to your good ideas!

Why is there a requirement for partnerships between community partner and Harvard partner?

We believe it is essential to work closely with the affected communities, and we aim to establish intentional partnerships to achieve this goal. By connecting the University's research and intellectual resources with the valuable resources of the community, which are its people, we hope to promote positive and transformative social change. We are also inspired by other leading institutions, such as Northwestern University, who have engaged with their local communities in reparative work.

How can I be connected if I don’t have an existing relationship with a community partner or a Harvard partner? 

The Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery initiative will be hosting two networking events in November and December, which we are calling “ideathons”. These events will offer information about the application process and provide an opportunity for representatives from community partners and Harvard partners to connect. One will be held in Cambridge on November 30th, and the other will be held in Boston on December 7th. If you need any assistance regarding making connections, please feel free to reach out to the Legacy of Slavery team (, and we will do our best to assist you.

Can any community organization co-lead the project? 

We require that community organizations co-leading proposals to have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. However, project teams can certainly pull in other community partners (e.g., local government) to participate in their proposal. 

Will there be an information session for potential applicants? 

Absolutely! We will have a virtual session on November 27 at 6 p.m. It will provide an overview of the application process and allow time for your questions. We will record the virtual session and post it on our website in case you are unable to make it.

Will there be office hours to discuss my idea or ask questions about the grant process?

Yes! We would be happy to chat with you about the grant process, possible proposal ideas, or a possible co-lead for your project. We will be hosting virtual “office hours" where you can schedule a 15-minute call with a member of our H&LS team. Please click on this link and select a time that works best for you.

If my organization is not located in Boston or Cambridge, can I still apply for funding?

Of course! We welcome any proposal that aims to address systemic inequities affecting descendant communities, but we are prioritizing applications focused on the Boston or Cambridge communities.

Does funding cover indirect/F&A/overhead costs?

Excellent question! Community partners co-leading the project can request up to 20% indirect costs as part of the total budget. This can be used to cover essential operational expenses that are not directly related to a specific program or project. Harvard partners are not eligible to request indirect cost funding. We will provide more information about budget requirements to teams who are invited to submit full proposals.

If I have more than one idea, can I submit multiple applications?

Unfortunately, you can’t apply as a co-lead for multiple applications, but you can participate as a team member in as many as you’d like.

How will funding be distributed between community partners and Harvard partners? 

To ensure that funding is allocated fairly and in a way that benefits the community, a minimum of 60% of the available funding must be directed towards community partners. This approach is intended to support sustainability and a balanced distribution of resources.

What is the review process?

We are taking a two-stage approach to thoughtfully evaluate proposals and identify the most promising ideas for funding. For the first stage, local Cambridge and Boston community members, Harvard staff, students, and faculty will review the proposals and determine what teams should be invited to submit a full proposal 

 In the second stage, final decisions will be made by respected national leaders, including Dr. Lee Pelton; Ken Reeves, former mayor of Cambridge, NAACP President of Cambridge chapter, and Harvard alum; Ruth Simmons, former president of Smith College, Brown University, and Prairie View A&M, Harvard’s senior advisor to the president for HBCU engagement, and Harvard alum; and Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor and former chair of the H&LS Implementation Committee. Each of these individuals is a trusted member of their respective communities, and we are confident that they will make informed decisions. 

How often will the Harvard & the Slavery initiative release an RFP?

We plan to release an RFP annually.