2021 Community Grant Program: Operating & Project Support

Applications Accepted:
July 15 - September 15, 2021

The Community Grant Program is rooted in the belief that we can collectively work towards a more equitable, vibrant and just community by offering flexible grant options, implementing strategic focus areas, and emphasizing the underlying approaches nonprofit organizations apply to their work.

Past applicants to this program will find many hallmarks from previous years, but also several refinements. Updates to the 2021 program include:

  • Separate and streamlined applications for General Operating Grants and Project Grants
  • Clearer focus areas that are strategic and cohesive
  • An emphasis on cross cutting lenses for how you approach your work
  • Clearer instructions and greater transparency

Strategic Focus Areas

GWCF has been on a learning journey to better understand how to leverage and streamline resources entrusted to us to make the most meaningful impact in our communities. These strategic areas – Health & Wellbeing, Thriving Families, and Creative Worcester – have emerged as our current priorities, and will be continuously honed.

Strengthening the systems that ensure those from historically excluded populations have equitable access to healthcare and behavioral healthcare. Strategies include:

  • Expanding access to behavioral health services
  • Expanding culturally-responsive healthcare workforce
  • Improving pre-natal care/healthy pregnancies
  • Wellness programs that promote health and/or improve health outcomes

Ensuring that families have what they need to thrive and that young people have access to critical supports and meaningful experiences. Strategies include:

  • Increasing access to quality early childhood care
  • Providing meaningful out-of-school experiences
  • Delivering critical family support services including housing & food security 
  • Providing opportunities to increase family wealth (job training, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, increasing minimum wage, etc.) 
  • Offering family oriented educational and/or recreational opportunities

For Worcester to have a diverse and strong Arts & Culture ecosystem where residents share a sense of ownership and belonging in all creative spaces. Arts & Culture will be fully recognized as a key component in assisting individuals, families and communities in living healthy and thriving lives. Strategies include:

  • Increasing access to the arts
  • Developing alignment between local diverse populations and arts & culture programming.
  • Artists & creatives engaging as active partners in the growth and evolution of the city and its neighborhoods.
  • Supporting the financial stability of cultural organizations

Key Criteria: Lenses

In addition to the strategic focus areas, we also want to ensure we are investing our resources in organizations that are on a journey to examine, learn and pivot in the areas of racial equity, community voice and changing policies and systems. GWCF believes this criteria key to moving organizations forward to a more inclusive, equitable and just community where all can thrive. 

We seek to understand the journey organizations are on in this area, and therefore are not necessarily looking for advanced responses, but rather honest and authentic reflections. We seek to partner with grantees with a commitment to Racial Equity, Community Voice, and Policy & Systems, as defined below:

We believe racial equity to be the condition achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.  We believe equity is one part of racial justice, and thus we also include in our approach work that addresses root causes of inequities, not just their manifestations (racialequitytools.org). This looks like:

  • Moving beyond diversity and inclusion into understanding systems that create and perpetuate racial inequities
  • Recognizing the role your organization plays in the system and looking to re-orient your mission and resources to create an impact on systemic inequity
  • Working towards elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, behaviors and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or that fail to eliminate them
  • Prioritizing leaders, staff and volunteers from historically excluded groups.

Community Voice exists within organizations who help amplify, uplift and center community needs/voice and share power. Organizations with strong community voice co-create and lead programming and create structures in partnership or led by those more impacted by the issue.

  • Co-designing and implementing programming that are the direct request of the community you serve and reflect an expressed need
  • Creating mechanisms to engage in dialogue and receive feedback from individuals and groups you serve and use it to enhance and refine your services and organization

Related to both racial equity and community voice, we are interested in supporting organizations that are looking closely at ways to move our community to a more equitable place by engaging in advocacy and policy efforts that will result in systems change and address root causes.

  • Engaging in advocacy efforts that influence the policies and systems making it more difficult for individuals to engage/participate
  • Aligning with others through strategic partnership to move issues forward
  • Championing the gathering and sharing of important data and research

Core Components

The Community Grant Program considers two types of grants – General Operating Grants and Project Grants – for our highest level of investments.  Both grant types are awarded on an annual basis. Organizations are eligible in the 2021 cycle to submit applications for both operating and program grants if they so choose.

General Operating Grants: 

Invest in organizations that are highly aligned with our strategic focus areas and whose success we see as vital to reaching our vision for a strong healthy, vibrant and equitable community. Grants will vary in size, but in general range from $5,000-$50,000.

Project Grants: 

Fund a specific project or program highly aligned with our strategic focus areas.  Grants will vary in size but in general range from $2,500-$25,000 to be applied to project budgets that include meaningful overhead.

You should apply for a Project Grant if:

  • This may be your first time applying to GWCF
  • You are designing or implementing a new program/project
  • You operate a discrete program or project that you are seeking funding for
  • You are part of a multiservice organization that doesn’t fully align with our strategic focus area, but have a discrete project that does
  • You are part of a larger institution (hospital, university etc.) and have a discrete project

Tips for Applicants


Profile of Successful Grantee Partners

  • 501c3 tax exempt nonprofit or an entity operating under the fiscal sponsorship of a tax-exempt nonprofit.
  • Collaboratives or loosely organized coalitions are welcome to apply and should be submitted by the designated lead partner
  • Your organization’s work is within GWCF’s geographic area served. Priority is given in the following order:
    • Nonprofit organizations based in and serving Worcester County
    • Nonprofits not based in Worcester County but have a physical presence (staff or location) should focus their application entirely on their work within Worcester County
    • Nonprofits providing an unduplicated service in Worcester County without a physical (staff or location) presence will be expected to demonstrate their authentic relationships with local stakeholders (local board members, formalized partnerships, local committee/coalition service etc.)
  • Have strong demonstrated alignment with one of the key strategic focus areas
  • Tell an authentic journey of progress in one or more of our 3 priority lens areas (racial equity, community voice, systems change).  Successful grantees will not necessarily be advanced in these areas, but on a meaningful and inclusive journey.
  • Sound Organizational Practices: A legitimate and effective governing or advisory board is in place and strong planning and fiscal stewardship is happening


What We Will Not Fund

  • Capital Projects/Campaigns
  • Event Sponsorships
  • Individuals
  • Public organizations or municipalities (Not typically, discuss with program team member before submitting an application)
  • Houses of Worship, or programs/organizations that proselytize (Not typically, discuss with program team member before submitting an application)

Grant Process

Research: 

Is this grant program the right fit for you? There are several ways to find out:

  • Review this information in its entirety
  • Attend one of our Application Preparation Sessions to learn more
  • Reach out to a member of the program team

 

Apply Online:

The deadline to apply is September 15, 2021. The application is entirely online.

APPLY HERE

Depending on if you apply for an operating or program grant you may need to attach materials such as an organizational or project budget, board member list and supporting documents

Review & Evaluation:

Each application receives a fair review process. Members of the program team read applications for eligibility and processing. Applications then move to our Grants committee for deliberation. Staff may reach out to with follow up and clarifying questions.

Announcement of Decisions: 

Decisions will be announced by early December. Notification will happen via email from our grants management system and payment will be issued either by check or electronic transfer.

Reporting: 

See expectations of grantee partners for details on reporting requirements.

Attend an Upcoming Application Preparation Session

Part information session, part grant writing 101, these new and improved Application Preparation Sessions will provide an overview of GWCF's 2021 Community Grant Program, as well as guidance on successful grantwriting strategies. In addition to presentations by GWCF's Program Team, Dodi Swope, professional grantwriter and training consultant, will discuss the evolving landscape of philanthropy and offer tips on how to prepare your strongest proposal.

Next & Final Session:

Wednesday, August 4: 9:00-11:00 AM

Sign up here

Expectations of Grantee Partners

Community Grantee Partners highlight our most selective portfolio of grantees. In Addition, GWCF has a responsibility as stewards of community resources to report on and tell stories of collective impact. To achieve this goal, we ask that all grantee partners are able to:

  • Expend their grant within 18 months of award
  • Submit a progress report detailing their successes, challenges and lessons learned at the completion of their project or within one year of the grant award.
  • Promote our granting partnership on marketing materials, and any project related press
  • Be in touch with your program officer over the course of your grant award. Things come up and projects shift course- we want to be a resource and partner in any way we can.

Questions?

If you have questions about the Community Grant Program, please contact Senior Program Officer Sarah Shugrue. Send an inquiry here.

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