Community Grants

For local nonprofits serving residents of Santa Cruz County.

2017 Grants

    Local nonprofits serving Santa Cruz County residents and working in any our interest areas can apply for Community Grants. 
    We are currently not accepting applications for 2017 Community Grants.
    The deadline for fall grants was September 14. Grants will be announced in late October.

Our Interest Areas

Arts, History and Culture stimulates the county's vibrant artistic and cultural life and preserves its diversity, history, traditions and historic sites.

Community Development encourages civic engagement, improves economic health and develops leadership.

Education enhances academic achievement and prepares young adults for employment, career technical education or higher education.

Environment builds leadership capacity, engages diverse populations in environmental education, and advances local environmental problem-solving and stewardship.

Health promotes wellness (especially for adolescents and seniors), decreases disparities in health status, increases access to care for all residents and encourages coordinated, community-oriented approaches.

Human Services fosters positive youth development outside the school setting and promotes self-reliance for individuals and families by helping them obtain basic services.

Types of Support

Funding is available to support a specific project, to sustain general operations, or to boost organizational effectiveness. See the 2016 grants online and what we've funded.

What We Fund

  • Project Support is for a specific piece of work or activity that provides direct benefits to the organization’s constituency while achieving measurable results over a specified period of time. If your organization delivers a single program, a project can be the delivery of that program.
  • Organizational Effectiveness or Capacity Building is for activities that strengthen an organization (or a coalition of organizations). Activities may include organizational assessment, planning, board/staff development, or resource/communication development.
  • General Operating Support may be used to advance the organization’s mission, but is contingent on whether the organization:
    • Has been operating for at least seven years with a current operating budget of at least $250,000.
    • Has a track record of effectively meeting the mission and goals in proportion to the organization’s size.
    • Is in good standing among peers and funders in providing quality programming.
    • Uses a plan to guide programs and process that is regularly reviewed and updated.
    • Demonstrates sound financial management for at least three years (no deficits greater than 10% of the operating budget for one year out of three years).
    • Has a board policy regarding cultural competency and can demonstrate progress toward implementation.

We Don’t Fund

  • Endowments, building campaigns, annual fund appeals, fundraising events, or one-time festivals or celebrations.
  • Individuals, except for scholarships and Rydell Visual Arts Fund Fellowships.
  • Religious organizations (except for nonsectarian purposes).
  • Existing obligations, debt retirement, deficits, or retroactive funding.
  • Individual (public or private) schools, as distinct from a school district.
  • Partisan political activities.
  • Hiring grant proposal writers.

Grants Awarded

2017

2016

2015

  • Summer round of Community Grants [PDF 205 KB] awarded to local nonprofits working in our interest areas of arts, history and culture and environment.
  • Spring round of Community Grants [PDF 299 KB] awarded to local nonprofits working in our interest areas of community development, education/youth development, health and human services.

2014

  • Summer round of Community Grants [PDF 117 KB] awarded to local nonprofits working in our interest areas of arts, history and culture and environment.
  • Spring round of Community Grants [PDF 220 KB] awarded to local nonprofits working in our interest areas of community development, education/youth development, health and human services.

2013

  • Fall round of Community Grants [PDF 124 KB] awarded to local nonprofits working in our interest areas of arts, history and culture and environment.
  • Spring round of Community Grants [PDF 58 KB] awarded to local nonprofits working in our interest areas of community development, education/youth development, health and human services.

Eligibility & Restrictions

Applicants must meet the following requirements for all competitive grants (Community, Diversity Partnership, and Rydell Visual Arts Fund Grants):

  • Operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a project under the fiscal sponsorship of a nonprofit, or a public agency;
  • Benefit residents in Santa Cruz County, the Summit, or the Pajaro Valley;
  • Include Santa Cruz County residents on their board of directors; and
  • Adhere to a board-approved nondiscrimination policy regarding employment, governance, and service.

NOTE: Joint projects are encouraged. One organization must serve as the applicant and grantee responsible for funds and reports.

Applicants are subject to the following restrictions:

  • Organizations may apply for competitive grants one time annually.
    • Community Grants, Diversity Partnership grants, and Rydell Visual Arts Fund Grants are all considered part of our annual competitive grants.
    • Special initiatives beyond these three opportunities and donor-advised grants based on our donors’ recommendations are not counted.
  • Multi-service organizations that host multiple programs across the county are encouraged to submit one cross-cutting proposal. We do not accept multiple requests from one agency. Please contact the Foundation for assistance with crafting your request.
  • Organizations with a current grant may apply if reports are up to date and the proposed start date for the new grant is after the end of the current program.
  • Five Year Limit Policy: Applicants are eligible to receive up to five consecutive years of community grant awards if they are meeting their prior grant objectives. This policy, established in 2007, seeks to allocate our resources to a broad group of organizations.
    • After five consecutive years, grantees will be required to wait 12 months before applying for funding.
    • Donor-advised or special initiative grants do not count toward the time limit.