People in conversation

Funding a Collaboration With Essential Partners

One of the most common questions we get from prospective partners is: how do people pay for this work? Thanks to the generosity of our donors, EP is able to offer flexibility in our fee-for-service pricing to meet the needs of many communities, schools, and institutions while remaining a stable, healthy organization.

On this page you'll find some of the ways that partners who lacked immediate access to a budget have funded their collaborations—large and small—with Essential Partners, including:

  • Communities, Civic Groups, and Religious Institutions
  • Middle and High Schools
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Companies and Nonprofits

We hope that this resource will offer inspiration and creative support. If you're working on a grant application or proposal, you may find the following resources useful:

If you aren't already in touch with a member of our program team about the scope and cost of a collaboration, please reach out. No matter your available resources, we remain your essential partners in the work of building a more inclusive, constructive future.

Photo of puzzle pieces by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

Funding Sources for Communities, Civic Groups, and Religious Centers

Partnerships with multiple groups: not only will a multi-sector partnership distribute the costs, it will also create infrastructure for your work across a more diverse set of stakeholder networks.

Community foundations: many communities have small foundations that invest in local programs that improve the lives of residents.

Sponsorships by local banks, businesses, corporations, or professional associations: local business leaders may have aligned values or a shared interest in the health of your community.

Funding Sources for Middle and Secondary Schools

Federal COVID response funding: the 2021 federal pandemic response package included school district funds to support student social-emotional learning and sense of belonging.

Professional development budgets: CEUs are available for both trainings related to larger school and district collaborations as well as our Dialogic Classroom workshop.

Social-emotional learning budgets: teaching students to reflect on their values and experiences, engage in healthy communication around difficult topics, and facilitate hard conversations all reinforce SEL goals.

DEI initiative budgets: teaching the skills of healthy communication across differences of identities and values empowers students, educators, staff, and parents to build an inclusive school community.

Civic education funding: there are numerous local, state, and national initiatives to improve civic education, and a core skill for active participants in a healthy democracy is the ability to hold conversations about values and priorities as well as engage across differences of identities and perspectives.

Community engagement funding: initiatives to create opportunities for students to engage with their local communities have funded numerous student-led and student-facilitated dialogue projects.

Funding Sources for Colleges and Universities

President's office, provost's office, and departments: there are often pools of discretionary funds that can be used to meet emerging campus needs, improve the campus culture, engage students in timely issues, and/or bring skill-building workshops for students, staff, and faculty to campus.

Student affairs, residential life, and first-year orientation: there are often training budgets for student leaders, first-year orientation leaders, and resident assistants, as well as dialogues among students during first-year orientation.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or ombuds offices: training faculty, staff, and students to engage constructively across differences of identities and perspectives can support DEI initiatives as well as conflict transformation initiatives

Centers for teaching and learning: centers that focus on the improvement and innovation of teaching methods often have budgets for opportunities such as the Dialogic Classroom workshop as well as broader initiatives—for example, a first-year or capstone seminar program might include dialogic training for students.

Centers for spiritual life: community-building is often a key goal for these centers, and they are especially well-suited to funding interfaith or inter-religious dialogues and retreats.

Community engagement, service learning, and community relations offices: these often have funding available to support campus-community dialogue programs.

Special grants: the Ashoka Foundation, Templeton Foundation, and Arthur Vining Davis Foundation have all funded campus dialogue initiatives.

Funding Sources for Corporations and Nonprofits

Internal culture and communications: dialogic skills and tools can be used for more effective decision-making, strategic planning processes, meeting design, cultural and communication norms, as well as building cohesion and resilience.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: our work takes the abstract concepts of DEI training and makes them tangible, practical, and actionable through skill-building for communication across differences , employee resource group and affinity networks design, and restorative conflict resolution opportunities.

Professional development / talent management / leadership development: constructive engagement across differences, meeting facilitation, and conflict resolution are all core capacities for successful employees and managers.