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Capacity Building Cohorts

Large posed group photo of 20+ members of Capacity Building Cohort in front of office

The Capacity Building Cohort offers technical knowledge, skills, and the opportunity to build partnerships with peers navigating similar challenges in their community/equity work. We have been honored to support organizations in achieving their aspirations, not only through the consistent support of trusted coaches who recognize and respect communal wisdom, but through the transformative power of being in community.

Capacity Building Cohorts

Our intended outcome is to support 8-10 grassroots community organizations, based on goals developed between the organization and their coach. Throughout the program, we center their values, wisdom, and leadership culture to guide this process.

Our coaches partner with community leaders to build capacity in grassroots and emerging organizations, and together we expand knowledge, skills and performance in a variety of areas, including:

  • Governance
  • Board leadership and training
  • Vision, mission and values
  • Program delivery and impact
  • Strategic planning
  • Fund development
  • Internal management infrastructure
  • Program evaluation
  • Operations support

Over the course of 9 months, we work through a capacity assessment, development of a work plan, monthly coaching, 5 free workshops on topics selected by the cohort, and cohort meetings to discuss challenges and solutions in a community of peers. Organizations that participate will also receive a stipend to help cover the cost of staff time or resources devoted to capacity building.

Our program delivery model is built around our core commitment to justice and racial equity. This is woven throughout the specialized training, individualized coaching and mentoring, peer learning through the wisdom of our cohort community, tailored workshops, and the opportunity for greater visibility and connection with funders. Our services focus on building community with our cohort members which we believe is critical to fueling the movement for a more just and compassionate world for all of our communities.

We learn as much from our cohort members as we aim to give, and we look forward to laughing and growing with each new year of incredible organizations.

Read the official evaluation for the 2023 Seattle-based Capacity Building Cohort to learn more and hear directly from the participating organizations. Each year, we use this evaluation process to make adjustments for future cohorts.

Seattle-based Capacity Building Cohort

Communities Rise has partnered with the City of Seattle for over 10 years to provide capacity building services that focus on grassroots/midsize nonprofits and community-based organizations doing work in Seattle. Similar to the East King County cohort below, we prioritize organizations working in and led by communities impacted by systemic oppression. 

To be considered for this cohort, your organization must demonstrate meeting the following criteria:

  • Annual operating budget under 500K
  • 50% of staff and board must represent target community served
  • Ability to describe program accomplishments from previous year
  • 80% of population served must be located in Seattle

Learn more about our past Seattle-based Capacity Building cohort participants here: 2020 Cohort, 2021 Cohort, 2022 Cohort, 2023 Cohort.

East King County Cohort

Communities Rise partnered with the City of Bellevue in 2023 to offer our first cohort based in East King County. This cohort focused on grassroots and midsize organizations in Bellevue and Eastside Cities, deeply rooted in and led by the communities served. We prioritized organizations working in communities impacted by systemic oppression.

To be considered for this cohort, organizations must have met the following criteria:

  • Annual operating budget under $1,000,000 (exceptions are possible for organizations who have received large amounts of pandemic related surge funding or other unique circumstances)
  • 50% of staff and board must represent target community served
  • Ability to describe program accomplishments from previous year
  • 30% of services offered by the organization are located in Bellevue, or are specifically marketed to Bellevue residents.

The 2022-2023 East King County Capacity Building Cohort has concluded! Click here to learn more about our inaugural EKC Cohort organizations.

Cohort Impact | Evaluations

To learn more about the outcomes we’ve seen from our capacity building cohorts, please read the evaluation reports linked here.

Cohort Application Template Documents

The templates below are for applicants to an upcoming cohort, who want example documents for sharing their cohort eligibility. These are all examples of how to share your organization’s eligibility with us, but we encourage organizations to share their budget, program, team, and demographic info with us in the way that works best for them.

Have questions about either cohort? Please email us at with any questions or to set up a meeting to learn more.