Twenty-two national organizations have come together to invite you to join the 2023 Open Arms Challenge! This Challenge is all about opening our hearts and minds to more accessible and inclusive practices. For the month of April 2023, we are encouraging animal shelters, foster-based organizations, and public charities focused on keeping pets and people together to pilot new approaches that open doors to new adopters and volunteers and welcome your entire community.
Not only do we all hope to see an increase in adoptions, foster recruitment and volunteer interest, but there’s also $420,000 in grants available!
The goal of this Challenge is to increase inclusivity and provide a welcoming environment for all staff (paid and unpaid) and community members; and keeping pets with people when possible. What that looks like is different for every organization. It can be as simple as returning voicemails in a timely manner, providing literature in multiple languages or completely rewriting or doing away with the adoption application, to undertaking bias training or choosing new neighborhoods for adoption events.
The application window for the Challenge is January 23 – 30, 2023
This challenge will invite animal shelters, foster-based organizations, and public charities focused on keeping pets and people together to implement any or all of the following practices as follows:
- Processes are equitable and inclusive
- Customer success is ensured through customer service
- Marketing is inclusive of all areas of your community
- Organization embraces an open and welcoming culture
- Organization creates partnerships with other organizations
- Other – an open and welcoming practice you’re already doing that’s not listed above
Most importantly, the practices each organization decides to undertake should reflect a desire to intentionally connect with all areas of the community and a willingness to listen to what their community wants and needs.
We are all SO excited about this Challenge and cannot wait to see what you come up with!
The Challenge is open to animal shelters, foster-based organizations, and public charities focused on keeping pets and people together want to increase inclusivity and provide a welcoming environment for all community members. Welcoming practices that will be considered are those that actively make your organization’s culture more open, equitable and inclusive for your community.
- Registration Period: Monday, January 23, 2023 – Monday, January 30, 2023 (Apply through our grants portal until 5pm PST on January 30, 2023)
- Prep Period: March 1 – March 31, 2023. This is your chance to prepare for your new welcoming practices (update policies/procedures, train staff, etc.)
- Challenge Period: April 1, 2023 – April 30, 203. During this time, you will pilot your new practices.
- Participation Reports Due: Friday, May 19, 2023 (see a sample of that report)
- Final Report (via Zoom Huddle) for Award Winners: September 2023 (see sample questions)
To be considered to PARTICIPATE in this Challenge, your organization must:
- Be a U.S.-based government agency or 501c3 public charity that focuses on dogs and/or cats
- Be a shelter, foster-based organization or public charity that focuses on keeping pets and people together
- Be current on Maddie’s Fund grant reporting for any prior grants
- Be a member of Shelter Animals Count
- Register for the Challenge by submitting a complete application through the Maddie’s Fund Grants Portal. You’ll be notified by February 17, 2023 if you meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the Challenge.
- Recommended but not required: Maddie’s® Pet Forum, Maddie’s® University, Best Friends Pet Lifesaving Dashboard
To be considered for an AWARD from this Challenge, your organization must:
- Meet the requirements above
- Submit the Participation Report (due Friday, May 19, 2023 by 5pm PST). (View sample Participation Report) Please note, this sample is provided for reference only and questions are subject to change.
Additionally, if you are selected as an award winner from this Challenge, there’s a final report via Zoom to be scheduled for late March 2022. Find a sample of this report here. Please note, this sample is provided for reference only and questions are subject to change.
Prizes will be determined based on the participation reports that we receive.
List of prizes COMING SOON
Browse our growing Welcoming Practices resources from Challenge partners, organized by category.
Please feel free to share the Open Arms Challenge through your organization’s communication channels. To save, right-click the image and ‘save image as’ to your computer. Follow and use #OpenArmsChallenge with your posts so we can see and share your amazing work!