Application Guide for applying for Community Investment Grants

Grants from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County help a range of projects in Elkhart County and one of the areas of emphasis is the success of children.

Community Investment Grants Application Guide

Community Investment Grants are made available from the unrestricted pool of resources at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.

Effective July 2020, the following areas of emphasis are selected for investments to improve the quality of life in Elkhart County.

Kids and Families   To improve the living experience for Elkhart County citizens through safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments, with a focus on impacting children birth to age 8.  

Area of Emphasis: Early Childhood Development & Education      

Additionally: Parents
Vulnerable populationYouth & Mentoring  


Career Pathways   To improve the quality of life for Elkhart County residents by generating, developing and supporting career advancement and educational opportunities.  
Areas of Emphasis: K-12 Career Awareness & Exploration
K-12 Internships & Apprenticeships  

Additionally: Post-Secondary Access
Talent Development, Attraction & Retention  


Placemaking   To create open communities in Elkhart County which inspire, attract, engage, and connect people, to enrich their living experience.    

Areas of Emphasis: Vibrant Downtowns
Trails & Parks      

Additionally: Events (arts, culture, entertainment)
Public Art

Basics

  • Submit a grant application
  • Application online and available 24/7
  • Requests of all sizes
  • Single year, multi-year or challenge/matching requests
  • Projects, programs, sponsorships, capacity building, professional development, etc.
  • Preference given for applications related to areas of emphasis
  • Applicants are encouraged to speak with a Program Officer prior to submitting application
  • 7-10 business day initial follow-up by your Program Officer
  • Requests up to $25,000 evaluated by staff with 2 to 6 week response time
  • Requests greater than $25,000 evaluated by committee with 2-6 month response time
  • Committees meet for funding decisions in the months of October and April
  • Each committee has a $1-2 million dollar budget for the year
  • Our Fiscal year is July 1 – June 30
  • We strongly encourage a 60-90 day lead time on all requests for events

Timeline

  • Application online 24/7
  • Follow-up by staff in 7 to 10 business days
  • Committees meet in October and April (Requests > $25,000)
  • Committees also meet in December and June for Time-Sensitive Projects

10 helpful tips

  • Carefully read through the Community Foundation’s three priorities and Guide
  • Kids & Families, Placemaking, Career Pathways
  • Be clear about the population you serve
  • Be clear about WHY this project is needed and HOW it will improve the quality of life in Elkhart County
  • Know what “similar” organizations are in the community and the work they do
  • When appropriate, collaborate with other similar nonprofits
  • Make sure you have a project budget, including revenue and expenses
  • Be specific on how grant monies will be spent
  • Be clear about your goals
    • How do you define success?
    • How do you measure success?
    • What is your target goal (measure/#) for this project?
  • Have a plan on how you will fund this project ongoing, if applicable
  • Be concise (we encourage brevity); check your spelling and punctuation (twice!)

Who may apply?

Organizations classified as nonprofit tax-exempt public charities by the Internal Revenue Service. Most will be identified as a 501(c)(3), however, a few other institutions such as public entities, Schools*, Municipalities*, Libraries, and Chambers of Commerce may also qualify.


(*) Due to the number of departments, schools, and clubs within each school corporation and our municipalities; the community foundation requires all applications be approved by the highest ranking official within your governing body (i.e. superintendent’s or mayoral office) before an IDEA application may be submitted.

Who reviews and makes decisions on grants?

The Community Foundation would not exist without “community.” We believe it is our responsibility to maintain a process which preserves community volunteers as decision makers in the grant making process with support from foundation staff. Therefore, the Community Foundation has developed a structure consisting of three committees, representing our three priority areas, each made up of a broad spectrum of volunteers within our community. After committee recommendations are made a summary is then forwarded to our Board of Trustees for approval.

Evaluation criteria

The Community Foundation has a set of criteria by which staff and grant committee members review and evaluate grant applications.  These criteria include Impact, Project Goals, Organizational Capacity, Stakeholder support, and Partners.  An Evaluation Rubric establishes criteria and standards for different levels of performance and describes what performance looks like at each level.

The Evaluation Rubric (see below) is provided as a guide for organizations to prepare applications, and for reviews to be done with consistency and thoroughness.  An organization or project is not required to be strong in all areas to receive funding, and funding decisions are not made strictly on a numeric basis.  Responding to needs and opportunities in the community in ways to achieve the greatest impact over time is the guiding purpose of the grants process.

Reports and site visits

Most recipients will complete a report and (may) complete a site visit on or before the one-year anniversary of their grant date. Some projects may take longer, therefore due dates are provided to you.  Recipients of a multi-year grant should expect an annual progress report and possibly a site visit before the distribution of their next year’s grant. Also, depending on the nature and size of the grant, an additional comprehensive report may be required following the end of the grant (typically applied to multi-year or long-term programs). Site visits, when requested, typically fall in the month after the report is due to allow Program Staff time to review the information before the visit.  However, site visits are flexible.  Again, these dates will be provided to you.

Publicity

The Community Foundation loves to share in our partners’ success and in telling your story. We encourage our grant recipients to download our logo and samples of our press-related materials. In addition, we also encourage you to reach out to our Advancement Team to discuss additional marketing or promotions you would like to consider in support of your project and how we may be of help. 

Grant Rubric

You can also download the rubric our staff and committee members are using to make grant decisions and talk through it with the Program Staff.