Our Approach

We make grants to support prevention, early intervention, and in-depth programming that changes lives.

For children to have a strong start in life, they must be healthy, safe, loved and learning. Therefore, we invest in four program areas: health, safety & justice, basic needs, and early learning. To help children grow strong from the roots up, we partner with nonprofit organizations that support low-income children and their families in reaching their full potential. Across our program areas, we support direct services, as well as advocacy. When possible, we prioritize prevention and early-intervention strategies.

Our approach to grantmaking stems from our founding family’s experience in nonprofits and philanthropy. Trust-based philanthropy is a big part of what we do and think about every day. We know our partners are closest to the issues and communities they serve. They are the experts in their work. And our role is not to just fund them, but to come alongside them in partnership and help reduce the burdens philanthropy has historically imposed.

For us, grantmaking is so much more than just funding the great work nonprofits are doing. It is about spending time listening to them and learning from their expertise. It is about being accountable and responsive to those we are supporting. And, it is about sharing our insights from our unique vantage point, and mobilizing our resources and connections to advance our partners’ missions.

Here are a few of the ways we practice trust-based philanthropy:

  • We do our homework by researching prospective grantee partners before asking them for anything.
  • Whenever possible, we provide multi-year, unrestricted grants so nonprofits can use funds where needed and plan for the future.
  • We limit our paperwork and reporting requirements for our partners and find ways to learn more about their work through meaningful engagement.
  • We ask for input and feedback, and then we adapt our processes based on what we learn.
  • We provide support beyond our grant by connecting, convening, consulting, and amplifying our partners’ voices through communication.

To learn more about trust-based philanthropy and about other funders who have embraced similar values, visit

Strong partnership begins with alignment.

We welcome the opportunity to learn about nonprofits who are changing lives by helping children and families reach their full potential. If you believe that your organization aligns with the program area and funding approach described in our program area pages, we encourage you to introduce yourself. If your programs align with our priorities, we will reach out to learn more and/or we will keep you in mind for future funding opportunities. Given our small staff size and lean approach, we cannot accept or respond to unsolicited proposals or unsolicited letters of inquiry.

We practice place-based grantmaking.

Roots & Wings makes grants to a number of organizations working nationally. However, to give back to the region where our founders’ have lived and worked for many years, much of our philanthropy is centered in Wisconsin, especially in and around Dane County. Given that our foundation is located in Seattle, where our founders’ family and our foundation staff reside, we also grant to organizations serving King County and Washington statewide. And recently we have begun to expand our investments in Oregon, starting in Portland and Multnomah County.

king county, washington
dade county, wisconsin

While we do practice a great deal of placed-based grantmaking in Wisconsin and Washington, we also support a number of national organizations and health system across the U.S. To learn more about our grantmaking approaches by geography, please visit our program area pages.

Learn about our current grantee partners

We are honored to be able to support hundreds of nonprofits in Wisconsin, Washington, and across the nation who are working to improve the lives children and their families. Click below to learn more about these remarkable nonprofit organizations and social change makers or click here to access our complete grants database.