This Challenge is funded by Adopt a Pet, California for All Animals, Maddie’s Fund®, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation and in collaboration with Adoptimize, American Pets Alive!, ASPCA, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, Best Friends Animal Society, BISSELL Pet Foundation, The Community Cats Podcast, Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE), Cuddly, Greater Good Charities, HeARTS Speak, Humane Society of the United States, Maddie's® Million Pet Challenge, National Animal Care and Control Association, Petco Love, Petfinder Foundation, PetSmart Charities and Shelter Animals Count.
Looking for new ways to support your entire community?
Twenty-three 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.
Registration for the Challenge has Closed
To help prepare for this Challenge, there are loads of resources available, along with a Maddie's® Pet Forum Group to help you brainstorm and interact with other participants.
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.
- In order to qualify for a grant from Adopt a Pet, organizations must have an existing Adopt a Pet account or have applied for an account and send all required attachments (signed W-9 form, contact form, etc) to Adopt a Pet prior to receiving payment. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In order to qualify for a grant from California for All Animals, your organization must be a shelter located in California that houses animals in a brick and mortar facility and is open to the public a minimum of fifteen hours per week for adoptions and/or return to home (includes municipal shelters or private shelters with or without municipal contracts). Animal control agencies that provide field services and/or animal control functions are also eligible to apply, even if they do not perform sheltering services. Organizations must submit all required forms (W-9 form, annual intake and euthanasia data for the last five years [2018 – 2022] and subsequent five years [2023 – 2027] for cat, dog, and other, and a Shelter Services Agreement) to California for All Animals prior to receiving a payment.
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.
Adopt a Pet, California for All Animals, Maddie’s Fund, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation
- $420,000 in grant prizes. Each participating organization will be eligible for up to $10,000 in grants.
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement
- 5 organizations will be chosen to receive a coupon for one (each) free certificate course (Organizational Leadership or Fundraising) from The Learning Center.
BISSELL Pet Foundation
- BISSELL Pet Foundation will award 3 organizations $1,000 in spay-neuter vouchers (each voucher covers $50 per dog and $25 per cat).
The Community Cats Podcast
- All Challenge participants will receive recordings of the 2023 Online Cat Conference
- CUDDLY will award one organization an in-kind grant of animal products to support community outreach efforts, with a $1000 value total. Items include pet food and treats, crates, toys, leashes, collars, and enrichment items. CUDDLY will also award one organization a $1000 grant to be spent on new processes and programs to support this challenge.
Organizations must have an active wish-list hosted with CUDDLY, which promotes sustainability for community and shelter-based programs, including pet food pantries, foster, nursery, and more, as well as fundraising and support for individual animals in rescue If you are not yet a CUDDLY partner but want to be eligible for this prize, contact email@example.com.
- All qualified participating shelters and rescues free enrollment in our Jackson Galaxy Project Cat Pawsitive behavior training program.
One lucky shelter or rescue will receive up to $2,000 in scholarships to attend a special Greater Good Charities event in 2023. Details on the scholarship will be available in the new year.
National Animal Care and Control Association
- Scholarship for ACO I or II Training for one officer
- Magazine article (for up to 5 organizations)
- 1-year Agency Membership for one agency
Browse our growing Welcoming Practices resources from Challenge partners, organized by category.
In place of the traditional Challenge "huddles," the Weekly Communications Conversations calls in March will be focused around Open Arms topics. More information to come in mid-February but you can register for calls now.
Last year's huddle recordings are also available and still very relevant. We encourage you to watch at your leisure!
Join the Open Arms Challenge group on Maddie's® Pet Forum!
Join the Group!
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!