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Heirs' Property Prevention and Resolution Funders Forum

Heirs' Property Prevention and Resolution Funders' Forum

Invitation to submit proposals
Atlanta, Georgia
December 2, 2021
9:00am - 2:00pm

Please accept this invitation to submit a proposal for an initiative for consideration by the funders at the Heirs' Property Prevention and Funders' Forum.

Heirs' property occurs when a property owner dies intestate or with a will that leaves property to multiple beneficiaries, resulting in a fractured or entangled title. Left unresolved, this becomes a barrier to the ability to sell, collateralize, improve, or otherwise transfer the property. Because heirs' property is disproportionately found in racial and ethnic minority, low-wealth, rural, and distressed urban communities, it is a critical barrier to minority homeownership and the creation of generational wealth and racial equity. As a significant contributor to blight and unrealized equity in poor neighborhoods throughout the country, the scale and pervasiveness of this challenge is shocking. For example, in the state of Georgia, $34 billion worth of tax appraised property is probable heirs' property according to a 2017 USDA study. In 1980, the Emergency Land Fund estimated that 41 percent (3.8 million acres) of all Black-owned land in the Black Belt region was heirs' property.

On December 2, 2021 in Atlanta, GA, the Funders' Forum will seek to bring together potential funders with dozens of nonprofit and other organizations from 22 states and the District of Columbia. The intended outcome of this forum is to establish a capital, human, and organizational support basis for heirs' property resolution and prevention pilot initiatives in the following areas: education and awareness; pro-bono legal services; academic research; local government innovation; and developer/contractor driven affordable housing initiatives. Potential funders, including philanthropic and other grant and resource providers, law firms, financial institutions, and builder and realtor trade groups, will have the opportunity to hear from nonprofits and other organizations as they pitch scaled pilot solutions to this group in an in-person and virtual environment. The forum has been designed to allow funders and organizations with initiatives in their market to connect and determine their mutual interest in funding a proposed solution.

Heirs' Property Prevention and Resolution Funders' Forum

The Funders' Forum seeks to connect capital, human, and organizational resources with scaled solutions in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Prior to the event, organizations will submit proposals for pilot initiatives that offer solutions for one or more of the five categories that require financial, human, or organizational support to be implemented. These are pilot initiatives that can grow in scale with the financial, human, and organizational support of philanthropic organizations, grants, and other resource providers. Potential funders will receive a briefing book containing all the submitted proposals to review prior to the on-site presentations on December 2.

During the Funders' Forum, organizations will pitch the funders on their initiatives. The funders will then have the opportunity to ask questions and explore opportunities for individual or collaborative work with other organizations. Please note, participating funders are under no obligation to commit to any pilot initiative.

The Funders' Forum will focus on funders and pilot initiatives that have an interest in or conduct business in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Deadline for submitting proposals:

October 31, 2021

Complete submission to be submitted via this link.

The Funders' Forum is an in-person event with virtual access available. Thursday, December 2, 2021

9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Participants will only include potential funders, organizations that are presenting their scaled solutions, and the event sponsors. The event sponsors are the following:

FHLBank Atlanta
FHLBank Dallas
FHLBank Pittsburgh
FHLBank Boston
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

KEY CONTACTS (Please contact for additional information:) PRIMARY CONTACT:

Shana Jones University of Georgia
Faculty, Carl Vinson Institute of Government

Arthur Fleming
Senior Vice President and Director of Community Investment Services 

Catherine Sterba
Assistant Vice President and Community Investment Services Strategic Initiatives Manager 

FAQs for Heirs Property

1. What is the format of the Funders Forum?

This is not a conference and this is not a workshop with panel discussions.

The Funder's Forum will be conducted in a 'shark-tank" like environment with the scaled initiatives being delivered to the Funders. There are two primary groups in attendance at the Funder Forum are:

  • philanthropic and similar organizations willing to consider grants, investments, and/or other resources in scaled pilot initiatives solutions to the challenge of Heirs Property, and
  • organizations who have a scaled pilot initiative(s) that will present solutions focused on one or more of the five categories (education and awareness; pro-bono legal services; academic research; local government innovation; and developer/contractor driven affordable housing initiatives)

2. I received an email asking me to submit information about my organization and a proposal for a potential initiative addressing the heirs property challenge. What is this for?
The purpose of this email is to gather information through an online format about organizations that work or may be planning to work in the area of addressing the heirs property challenge.

Organizations will also be able to write a short description of a proposed Pilot Initiative that supports current or potential work addressing heirs property challenges. This information will be used to develop a Briefing Book for the philanthropic and similar organizations who will be in attendance.

Pilot Initiatives should fall within one or more of the following categories:

  • Education and awareness
  • Pro-bono legal services
  • Local government innovation
  • Academic research
  • Developer/contractor driven affordable housing initiatives

There are no set guidelines for organizations to follow when describing their proposed Pilot Initiative. Organizations should propose initiatives that meet the heirs property challenge and are innovative, aligned with their mission, and have likelihood of success. Information about the Pilot Initiative should include program focus, population to be served, geographic area, expertise needed, and funding needs. The Pilot Initiatives collected through this process are designed to set the stage for further conversation with funders, who will each have their own grant application guidelines and process. They are analogous to a "letter of intent" or "pre- application" process, which some funders use to understand an organization's project idea before asking them to submit a full proposal.

3. How much grant funding will be available at the Funder's Forum?
Funders from across multiple states are being invited. Each funder will have the opportunity to meet organizations as well as review the information gathered and Pilot Initiatives proposed and decide on their interest in funding, but they are not required to fund any particular amount or quantity of Pilot Initiatives. Funding of any organization is totally at the discretion of the funders, however they are attending because they are committed to assisting with solutions to supporting efforts that solve heirs property issues.

4. When will I find out if I am going to be funded?
The Funder's Forum takes place on December 2, 2021. Some indication of funding interest may be expressed at the Forum; other funding indications will occur through continuous engagement post-event.

5. How much money can each Pilot Initiative receive?
There is no pre-set limit for a funding amount. The Pilot Initiatives described should indicate funding needs and include a general description of what the funds will be used for. They are designed to set the stage for further conversation with funders, who will each have their own guidelines about how much and what they fund as well as their own funding process.

6. What is the timeframe for the Pilot Initiatives?
Each Pilot Initiative should ill propose a timeframe that makes sense for that particular initiative. There is no prescribed timeframe. In other words, the organization must determine a reasonable timeframe based on the initiative proposed, taking into account their experience with working with funders and their capacity to implement the initiative successfully based on factors such as their current experience working in the heirs property area, their size, and realistic funding needs.

7. What type of Pilot Initiatives are being sought and will likely be considered for funding?
Pilot Initiatives should fall within one or more of the following categories:

  • Education and awareness
  • Pro-bono legal services
  • Local government innovation
  • Academic research
  • Developer/contractor driven affordable housing initiatives

When you complete the online form, you will select one or more of the above categories.

Examples of possible projects within these categories are as follows (please note that the examples are for illustrative purposes only, we encourage innovative and workable solutions):

Education and Awareness - "Property literacy" efforts focused on targeted communities and populations designed to reduce the occurrence to heirs/tangled title property issues, for example.

Pro-bono Legal Services - Legal services to assist with clearing title issues, and/or legal services to assist with wills and estate planning to prevent the creation of a title issue, and efforts to amend current laws that force sale of property when there is an heirs property issue, for example.

Academic Research -Research into the existence and identification of properties which have title issues due to transfer without appropriate documentation, examining the failures of the current systems to prevent occurrence, the inequities of the current requirements for various federal programs that preclude application by an heirs property occupant, for example.

Local Government Innovation - Local, regional or state based government or quasi- government solutions. Comprehensive approaches that may include code enforcement initiatives, infill housing programs, etc., for example.

Developer/Contractor Driven Affordable Housing Initiatives - Affordable housing projects that include as a component the resolution of properties encumbered by tangled title issues. Infill housing initiatives in neighborhoods with high incidence of tangled title property issues.

8. What are the next steps?
If you are an organization interested in submitting information about your organization and a Pilot Initiative, you should immediately reach out to Shana Jones. She will send you the online form to complete.   Shana has been retained by the Funders Forum sponsors to develop the Briefing Book, which will be used by funders who attend the Forum. The proposals are to be delivered electronically via this link. If you have any questions after reviewing the online forms please submit them via email to Shana. Shana cannot provide you with advice or direction about what kind of initiative you should propose, and she is not evaluating, grading, or ranking submissions. As noted above, each funding organization will have different goals and application processes. She also will not be able to answer questions about who will be in attendance or their funding guidelines.