Community Grants

For local nonprofits serving residents of Santa Cruz County.

2018 Grants 

    Local nonprofits serving Santa Cruz County residents and working in any of our interest areas can apply for Community Grants. 
    The two-step process begins with an initial application or Letter of Intent (LOI). Selected applicants will be invited to submit additional proposal materials to complete the process. See below for details.

How to Apply for 2018 Community Grants

    Apply
  • Read the 2018 guidelines [PDF 230 KB], with info about eligibility, limitations, types of support and the application process.
  • Call or email our staff with any questions about your proposal: Christina Cuevas (831.662.2070) or Ana Espinoza (831.662.2073)
  • Read our fall guidelines (available August 1). Enter our online grant portal to apply.
  • Letters of Intent (LOIs) for our fall cycle must be completed and submitted online by noon, on Friday, September 14, 2018.

Important Info for Applicants

If you received a Community Grant from us (not donor-advised) since 2000, you already have an online account set up. Do not create a new account. Email Kevin Heuer or call him at 831.662.2072 to get the password for your account, which you can begin using immediately.

Timeline - SPRING

For organizations with budgets over $250,000, all interest areas: 

  • January 23 - Online LOI process opens
  • February 22 - Online LOI forms due by noon
  • April 24 - Selected applicants invited to submit Application
  • May 21 - Online application due by noon
  • Early July - Notification of grant awards

TIMELINE - FALL

For organizations with budgets $250,000 and under:

  • August 1 - Guidelines available and application opens
  • September 14 - Online applications due by noon
  • October 31 - Notification of grant awards

RAPID RESPONSE GRANTS

  • Proposals accepted on a rolling basis. See guidelines for more information. 

Grant Info Sessions

 Free Grant Info Sessions

We encourage all prospective applicants to register and attend info sessions on our grants cycle. Stay tuned for details on our next session in August.

Our Interest Areas

Art, History and Culture stimulates the county's artistic and cultural expression and preserves its diversity, history, traditions and historic sites.

Community Development encourages civic engagement, improves economic health and develops leadership that is diverse and inclusive.

Education/Youth Development enhances academic achievement and prepares children and youth for college and career.

Environment engages all populations in environmental stewardship.

Health promotes health equity and increases access to community-oriented care.

Human Services promotes self-reliance of individuals and families to 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 2017 spring and fall grants to see 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.
    • Track record of service.
    • Demonstrated interest in building organizational capacity (e.g., participated in workshops, engaged in board assessment, etc.).
    • Clear idea of capacity building needs based on board and/or staff assessment.
    • Potential for making a measurable difference in how the organization is governed, managed, financed, or operated in the future.
    • Ability to cover at least the first 25% of the project budget.
  • 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 Rapid Response 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, Rapid Response grants and Rydell Visual Arts Fund  grants are all considered part of our annual competitive grants.
    • Special initiatives beyond these four 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.