"We Rise by lifting others."

-Robert Ingersoll


Our mission is to work with and empower Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Disability (BIPOCD) nonprofit leaders, fostering impactful leadership and amplifying their voices.

Through strategic guidance, capacity-building, and advocacy, we support their organizational growth, sustainability, and the creation of lasting positive changes in their communities. We strive to overcome funding disparities and promote equity, enabling these leaders to maximize their impact and drive transformative outcomes.

Our Why:

Despite progress towards inclusivity and social justice, significant disparities persist in funding for nonprofit organizations led by BIPOCD. This funding inequity undermines the ability of these nonprofits to fulfill their missions, address systemic issues, and create lasting change within their communities.


Ashlee Lewis, Nonprofit Growth Strategist


Welcome to my page! I have 11 years of nonprofit work experience, starting as a part-time entry-level to the executive director role. As a woman of color Executive Director serving some of the most vulnerable community members navigating the landscape of resources, I have a deep understanding of the challenges that BIPOC and disability-led and serving organizations face. I have mentored many executive directors of color prior to creating Rising Initiative Consulting. Creating this consulting firm was a natural path for me, as investing in leaders is the best way to impact the community.

My human service work focused on working with marginalized communities with a special interest in racial justice, disability justice, and gender equality. I have sat on and is involved in multiple nonprofit boards, learned how nonprofits can organize successfully in many different ways, and sat on many government and foundation funding focus groups and committees to better understand how funds are distributed. My educational background is in sociology and psychology, with a special emphasis on ethnic studies.

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"To be Funding Ready"

Nonprofit Infrastructure


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Contact us for free consulting!

Our why

Nonprofit organizations play a crucial role in addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. They often operate on limited budgets, relying heavily on grants and donations to sustain their operations and impact. However, data and research consistently reveal a stark disparity in funding opportunities and allocation for BIPOC and disability-led nonprofits, hindering their ability to effectively serve their communities and amplify marginalized voices.

  • BIPOC Nonprofits: Despite the critical work performed by BIPOC-led organizations, they face significant obstacles in securing adequate funding. Numerous factors contribute to this funding gap, including historical systemic racism, limited access to networks and resources, implicit biases within funding organizations, and a lack of representation in decision-making processes. Consequently, BIPOC nonprofits struggle to access the financial resources necessary to expand their programs, hire staff, and achieve long-term sustainability.
    • Historical Systemic Racism: BIPOC communities have historically faced systemic discrimination and marginalization, which translates into funding inequities for their nonprofits. A study by The Building Movement Project (2017) found that 90% of nonprofit executive leadership positions are held by white individuals, limiting the representation and influence of BIPOC-led organizations in decision-making processes regarding funding allocation.
    • Limited Access to Networks and Resources: BIPOC-led nonprofits often have limited access to networks, resources, and philanthropic circles, which are crucial for securing funding. The Nonprofit Finance Fund (2018) reported that only 5% of foundation funding in the United States is directed toward organizations explicitly focused on communities of color.
  • Disability-Led Nonprofits: Organizations that advocate for disability rights and serve disabled individuals also encounter significant funding disparities. Disabled individuals often face multiple barriers, including limited access to education, employment, and healthcare. As a result, disability-led nonprofits play a critical role in addressing these issues, but they encounter similar challenges in securing adequate funding, leading to a diminished capacity to provide essential services, advocate for rights, and foster inclusion.
    • Limited Access to Resources: Disability-led nonprofits face barriers in accessing financial resources due to systemic ableism and discrimination. The Ruderman Family Foundation (2017) found that disability organizations receive only 3% of total philanthropic funding in the United States.
    • Underrepresentation in Decision-Making Processes: Disability-led nonprofits often lack representation in funding decision-making processes, leading to funding disparities. A study by RespectAbility (2017) revealed that only 3% of board members in the top 100 foundations in the U.S. have self-identified as having a disability.

The Impact of Funding Inequity:

The inequitable distribution of funding for BIPOC and disability-led nonprofits perpetuates systemic inequalities and perpetuates social injustice. This funding gap undermines the ability of these organizations to address systemic challenges, advocate for marginalized communities, and effect meaningful change. It limits their capacity to develop innovative programs, hire qualified staff, and establish partnerships that would enhance their impact and sustainability. Consequently, the lack of adequate financial support hampers the progress of social justice initiatives, exacerbates disparities, and perpetuates the marginalization of BIPOC communities and disabled individuals.

  • Limited Program Expansion: Inadequate funding limits the ability of these nonprofits to expand their programs, reach more individuals in need, and address systemic challenges effectively.
  • Reduced Advocacy and Policy Influence: Limited financial resources curtail the ability of these organizations to advocate for policy changes and fight for the rights and inclusion of marginalized communities.
  • Diminished Services: Insufficient funding hampers the provision of essential services and support to BIPOC communities and disabled individuals, perpetuating inequalities and hindering progress.

About Ashlee Lewis

I have gained extensive and crucial knowledge about operating a non-profit I was part of for 11 years. I inherited an organization that was in shambles. The first issue that I tackled was rebranding the organization and creating a brand that would invoke inspiration from the mission and long-term vision. Then created annual strategic goals that resulted in increased funding, client numbers, and community partnerships. I quadrupled the budget with increased staff numbers and built the capacity to fulfill the mission and expand services. It took a diligent effort to manage the finances where the organization stood with the utmost integrity. The organization received accolades from government funders for the collected data and compliance.

The organization was known in the community for treating the clients with respect and compassion and being effective at their advocacy. It took years of effort to diversity the board and the staff and build an internal culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Created a strong direct service program to provide advocacy based on accessible, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed through the lens of intersectionality. Developed excellent community outreach programs to train the state of Colorado to be accessible and inclusive of marginalized community members.

I sit on the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition as Secretary on the board, Strategic Planning Committee member, and governance committee co-chair (2017-Present). I am a Board member of Civic Canopy and sit on the Strategic planning committee (2022-Present). Board Member for Latina Safehouse (2023). I have been part of the Colorado Dept. of Human Service’s Domestic Violence Program’s (State Funding Program) Advisory Committee Member for 12 years. I am an Advisory Board Member for National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health (2022-2024). I sat on the Girls and Women of Funding Committee with Colorado Women’s Foundation (2020-2022), and I am part of the Direct Service Funding Committee member for them as well(2022-2023). Denver Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Community Impact members (2023).

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