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For Grant Seekers

Competitive Grants

Please Note: The Clinton County Community Foundation has implemented changes to our grantmaking program. These changes are listed below.

First-time applicants must contact the Foundation to discuss grant proposals prior to submission.
The Clinton County Community Foundation’s mission is to connect people, resources and causes to produce a positive and sustainable change in the communities we serve. We welcome grant applications from any 501(c)3 organization that is doing work to make our community a better place. Our staff will be very glad to work with you. For more information, please contact Kim Abney at (800) 964-0508 or by email at kim@cfclinton.org.

Grant Programs (beginning January 2021)

Based on our new strategic plan and community listening processes, the Foundation is launching new grant programs as outlined below.

Strategic Grants

In 2019, the Community Foundation conducted 16 community conversations in Clinton County to hear the issues citizens feel are important to the future well-being and growth of our communities. You can read more about the process at www.cfclinton.org. We are seeking applications that make significant progress in one of these aspirations prioritized by you and our neighbors:

Mentally Healthy, Safe and Drug-Free:  This includes support of criminal justice initiatives, affordable housing, shelters, mental health and substance abuse services (bilingual services for care), removing barriers (includes transportation) to access services, family strengthening initiatives, safe housing, job training and education for those struggling with behavioral health and substance abuse issues.

Progressive, Growing, Vibrant and Economically Healthy: This includes community development, workforce diversity and skills, workforce development, education, building an innovative and diverse business environment, affordable housing, transportation and quality of place initiatives.

Inclusive, Supportive, Connected, Engaging and Culturally Diverse: This includes initiatives that encourage inclusiveness, cultural diversity, connectiveness, and bilingual services, collaborative activities, socioeconomic interaction initiatives, diversity in community outreach, human rights programs and accessibility for all to resources.

These are part of our regular grant cycles. Our first year of strategic grants will be more exploratory as we and our community partners learn more about data trends and effective solutions. Over time, we will refine our criteria for those aspirations and refine the benchmarks for success.

General Grants

Also part of our regular grant cycles, general grants are a continuation of our traditional, responsive grantmaking program which supports a variety of programs and services in our counties. It also includes grants for nonprofit capacity building.

  1. Health & Medical -- to include the support of health and medical related programs;
  2. Social Services -- to include the support of human service organizations, programs for children and youth and services to the aged;
  3. Education -- to include support for programs in pre-school, elementary and secondary education, post-secondary education, scholarships and for special education programs;
  4. Cultural Affairs -- to include the support of programs and facilities which are designed to establish a diversified county cultural program that offers widespread participation and appreciation;
  5. Civic Affairs -- to include support of programs related to criminal justice, community development, employment, citizen involvement, leadership training, and other general community activities;
  6. Community Beautification -- to include the support of projects that advocate, stimulate and support community vitality, beautification/environmental preservation and adornment.

Mini-Grants and Rapid Response Grants

Our communities and nonprofits face many unknowns as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged economic downturn. In addition, nonprofits may face other unexpected short-term crises or opportunities. Mini-grants (up to $1,000) and rapid response grants (up to $5,000) will be available between our grant cycles.

Mini-Grant Guidelines:

  1. Requests must be for $1,000 or less.
  2. Requests for emergencies or immediate needs will be given priority.
  3. Requests should be for a one-time expense. Mini-grants will not sustain operating or programming costs from year-to-year. Mini-grant requests to cover a portion of a new ongoing expense must explain the plan for future sustainability.
  4. Requests for funding for sponsorships or events will not be considered.
  5. The implementation of mini-grant requests should fall outside the annual grant cycle timeframe. Mini-grant requests received during the annual grant cycle application cycle must either be 1) an emergency request where funding is needed immediately or 2) a request for a small, one-time project under $1,000.
  6. Organizations may only receive one (1) mini-grant per calendar year.
  7. Mini-grants are administered on a rolling cycle each calendar year. Applications are accepted and evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis until funds available for the calendar year are gone.

If you have a request that falls within these parameters, please contact Kim Abney at kim@cfClinton.org to request an application.

You can submit a letter of inquiry at any point through December 1, of the current year.

Grant Designation Determination
The good news? We will help you decide which program best fits your idea for making a difference. You can email a letter of inquiry any time and we will respond within two weeks on the next steps for strategic or general grants, or with a decision on a mini or rapid response grant.

Grant Guidelines, Policies and Evaluation Criteria

The Clinton County Community Foundation follows these grantmaking values, guidelines, and policies for our unrestricted community endowment philanthropic funds. These funds support the community’s changing challenges and need.  When they established these funds, donors entrusted the Foundation with the selection of the most needed programs to receive grant funding based on a competitive process. Donors may establish other types of funds with different criteria. 

Grantmaking Values

  1. Being change-oriented and problem-solving in nature with emphasis on "seed" money or pilot project support rather than for ongoing general operating support;
  2. Coordination with other sources of funding, including using matching or challenge grants; and
  3. Building the effectiveness and efficiency of nonprofits and collaboratives.
Grant Policies
  1. Grants will be made only to organizations whose programs benefit the residents of Clinton County and preference will be given to those projects that have high visibility in the community.
  2. Grants will be made only to organizations which provide for a responsible fiscal agent and adequate accounting procedures.
  3. Most grantees are required to submit a final grant report to the Foundation. We may delay a decision on new applications if we have not received a final report for a previous grant.

Typically, we do not award grants:

  1. For costs incurred prior to the grant application being approved.
  2. For annual fund drives or generic solicitation letters.
  3. To individuals, families, or businesses.
  4. For attending seminars or taking trips except where there are special circumstances which will benefit the larger community.
  5. Sectarian religious purposes but will consider grants to religious organizations for general community programs.
  6. Endowment funds.
  7. Projects which have been proposed by individuals or organizations responsible to advisory bodies or persons unless letters of recommendation or approval from those advisory bodies or persons accompany the grant proposals.

Grant Evaluation Criteria

We use these criteria when evaluating grant applications:

  1. Does the purpose of the project fit with the purpose of the organization? Is the organization able to implement this project?
  2. Is there an established need for the program or project in the community?
  3. How well has the purpose of the project been defined and who will be served by the project?
  4. When completed, will the grantee know whether its project was effective? What kind of impact (measurable outcome) did the project have on the organization/clients/community? Is it a visible project?
  5. Are there other, more compatible, sources for potential funding?
  6. Does the Community Foundation have adequate resources to effectively respond to this need?
Out-of-Cycle Grants

Grant applications may be considered outside of the annual published grant application cycles in special circumstances wherein the applicant can demonstrate that:

a)  An emergency condition exists whereby delay in consideration of the grant could lead to the endangerment of life, property or continuation of services provided, or
b)  A time sensitive opportunity to leverage Foundation funds which will expire prior to the conclusion of a published grant cycle.

All out-of-cycle grants remain subject to all application submission requirements, including submission of a letter of intent, which should specify the applicant’s desire for out-of-cycle grant consideration and justification for such consideration. Applicants may be asked to document that the circumstances which have led to the submission of an out-of-cycle request materialized after the conclusion of the most recently concluded grant cycle, and do not exist due to the delay of applicant in submitting a timely application for consideration during the previous grant cycle. 

See Grant Cycle

Download Grant Application

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