Ladder Up Social Equity Grant Program Now Open

Press Release

Des Moines, Iowa — Monday, April 26, 2021 — Today, the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission officially launched the Ladder Up Social Equity Grant program and is now accepting grant applications. The #LadderUp Grant program seeks to support organizations and programs that are working to address disparities or fill the gap in economic achievement in Des Moines. This program came about through the Bridging the Gap initiative launched by the City of Des Moines in 2018, driven by community feedback. The grants are intended to increase community contribution to the local economy and strengthen local purchasing power.

“This grant is an additional way that the City is investing in communities, as part of our efforts to reach many of the populations that have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Mayor Frank Cownie.  

Grant funding will be awarded to eligible organizations that are focused on upskilling residents, providing small business start-up support, helping with financial coaching and assistance, and taking other approaches to improve socio-economic opportunities for residents in Des Moines. “Almost any action that contributes to creating equitable outcomes for the residents of Des Moines would be eligible for grant funding,” said Commission Chair Kameron Middlebrooks.

A total of $100,000 has been dedicated to fund the launch of this grant program, and each eligible applicant is able to receive up to $50,000. In addition to supplies and materials, these grant funds can be used for staffing needs.

The application deadline is May 30 at 11:59pm. Additional details about the Ladder Up Grant can be found at Questions about the grant process can be submitted to All questions from potential applicants received by May 10, 2021 will be responded to by May 17, 2021. After that deadline, the responses will be made publicly available on the City’s website.

Joshua V. Barr
Director, Civil and Human Rights Department
(515) 283-4284

About the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission
The Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission works to foster justice and equality for all people who live or visit Des Moines by creating an atmosphere of opportunity regardless of: race, color, sex, creed, religion, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, physical and mental disability or family status. More information is available at or by emailing

About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines: Iowa’s capital city and local government servicing more than 217,000 residents, 51+ neighborhoods, over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails. The City of Des Moines stands to be a financially strong city with exceptional city services, fostering an involved community in a customer friendly atmosphere. Visit, Facebook and Twitter for more information.