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Grant Guidelines

Below please find the Weingart Foundation’s Grant Guidelines. We strongly suggest you first read the Foundation’s FY 2018 Program Plan and Working with the Weingart Foundation before reviewing the Grant Guidelines. This will provide you with a greater context and understanding of our current strategic grantmaking priorities.

General Grant Focus

The Weingart Foundation seeks to achieve inclusion and opportunity for all Southern Californians, especially for those who have historically been excluded due to their income level, race, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation, or zip code. To achieve this goal, the Foundation’s grantmaking program and other support are designed to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations, collaboratives, and coalitions working to meet essential needs, expand opportunity and eliminate structural barriers to equity.

The Foundation is committed to supporting organizations at all different levels of developing their capacity and infrastructure, as we know that many organizations providing critical services in low-income communities are small and under-resourced. There is a need to build the capacity of these organizations in order to expand opportunity and strengthen civil society in the communities they serve. 

Funding is provided in the form of Unrestricted Operating Support grants, and on a more limited basis, Capital, and Special Opportunity Fund grants, as well as Program Related Investments (PRIs).

In addition to the guidelines outlined below for each of our program strategies, the Foundation will first assess letters of inquiry and grant applications using an equity lens. Therefore, priority will be given to requests that address at least one of the following strategies:

  • Address a critical need for a historically marginalized population or community;
  • Build cross-sector coalitions, networks and/or movements to advance positive change and build public will for greater equity;
  • Promote youth and grassroots leadership development and civic engagement for individuals from under-resourced communities and those historically under-represented;
  • Engage in system or policy change aimed at addressing the root causes of inequity through community organizing and advocacy;
  • Promote local leadership and leaders of color; 
  • Engage in multi-racial organizing and coalition building;
  • Implement strategies to improve community capacity and advance sustainable economic growth; and
  • Strengthen the capacity of smaller grassroots organizations located in low-income communities focused on advancing social and economic equity.

Geographic Area of Grant Focus

The Weingart Foundation supports organizations working in the following six Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

In addition, the following communities are areas of designated focus: Southeast Los Angeles County and South Los Angeles. For more information, please click here.

Applicant Eligibility

An organization that is certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and is not a private foundation as defined in section 509(a) of that Code is eligible for consideration. The Foundation does not fund Section 509(a) (3) Type III non-functionally integrated supporting organizations.

Financial Documentation

  • Audited financial statements for the most recently completed fiscal year are required of all organizations in existence for more than five years and with operating income of $500,000 or more.
  • Organizations with annual income under $500,000 or agencies founded within the last five years must submit an independent review of their financial statements, completed by a Certified Public Accountant.
  • Applicants that cannot meet the financial documentation requirements may be eligible for an exemption on a case-by-case basis upon review of the full application.

Types of Support
The Weingart Foundation offers the following types of grants:

Unrestricted Operating Support Grants

Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) is the Foundation’s primary vehicle for supporting and building the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofits, collaboratives and coalitions that are working to achieve equity in our most under-resourced communities.

The Foundation provides flexible, multi-year unrestricted support to carefully selected nonprofits that demonstrate an interest in and an ability to increase their organizational capacity and effectiveness in order to advance equity in our region. This includes nonprofits providing essential, quality services in the areas of health, education and human services, as well as those engaged in community organizing, advocacy, civic engagement and movement building.

Guidelines: Successful UOS applicants will meet the following criteria (in addition to the criteria outlined above under General Grant Focus):

  • Organization’s mission, goals, and programming are aimed at reducing disparities and barriers, increasing opportunity and/or meeting the essential needs of individuals and communities most impacted by historic inequities;
  • Has clear and promising strategies and the ability to demonstrate positive impact and progress toward desired goals;
  • Meaningful engagement with clients, constituents and individuals most impacted by inequities that inform the organization’s work and decision making; 
  • View the work of their organization as part of a larger ecosystem, engaging in meaningful collaboration and partnership to leverage resources and increase the impact of their work to meet shared community goals;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in their governance, staffing, organizational practices and collaborative relationships;
  • Evidence an ability to make progress in one or more of the following areas of organizational effectiveness:
    • Executive leadership
    • Board governance and engagement
    • Financial operations and management
    • Fund development
    • Staff and infrastructure
    • Client/Constituent engagement
    • Diversity
    • Cultural competence
    • Organizational strategy and adaptability
  • Are able to describe how a UOS grant could have measurable impact on organizational and programmatic capacity and effectiveness.

The size of an Unrestricted Operating Support grant will generally range between $20,000 and $200,000 over one to two years (typically one year for grants under $25,000), depending on a number of factors including the budget size of the organization, and the specific needs and opportunities facing each applicant.

Operating Reserves: On a case-by-case basis and after consultation with the applicant organization, Foundation program officers may recommend restricting a portion of a UOS grant for the organization’s operating reserve. Operating reserve set-asides are typically recommended when an applicant is seeking to seed or build its reserve fund, and are usually conditional on the existence or creation of a board-approved organizational policy on the use and maintenance of the reserve. When appropriate, the Foundation will consider adding a condition on the reserve portion of the grant requiring a one-to-one match from the agency’s board or a one-to-one match from other private sources, in order to encourage board engagement or additional private support. For more information about operating reserves, please see this toolkit created by the Nonprofit Operating Reserves Initiative Workshop.

PLEASE NOTE: Expanding Opportunity Fund (formerly the Small Grant Program)
In alignment with our focus on advancing equity, we have changed the Expanding Opportunity Fund (EOF) program strategy. The EOF had provided one-year grants of $25,000 and under to organizations with budgets of $1 million and under. Effective July 2017, the EOF will no longer be a separate program, but will instead be integrated into our Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) program. This change allows our Foundation additional flexibility and efficiency in supporting smaller organizations focused on advancing social and economic equity. Smaller, one-year grants of $25,000 or less will now be made out of our UOS program through a streamlined application process beginning with a UOS letter of inquiry for organizations with operating budgets under $1 million.

CLICK HERE to access the How to Apply page and begin a new UOS grant request.

Capital Grants

We anticipated making a limited number of capital grants given the demand for Unrestricted Operating Support and in consideration of the Foundation’s Program Related Investment Fund, which provides low interest loans that can be used to support capital related projects.

The Foundation will only consider Capital grant requests that:

  • Bring new or significantly expanded services to designated Geographic Areas of Focus or to other under-resourced communities; and
  • Where project completion is unlikely without Weingart Foundation support.

While we will continue to accept unsolicited letters of inquiry (LOIs) for Capital support, given the highly competitive nature of this funding, applicants are strongly encouraged to talk with a member of our program staff before submitting an LOI for capital funding.

Program Related Investments

The Foundation provides a limited number of program related investments (PRIs), or low-interest loans, through a revolving PRI Fund. Through PRIs, our goal is to advance equity by providing capital to maintain or expand facilities and/or increase services to historically disadvantaged and under-resourced communities in Southern California.

The Fund is restricted to loans at interest rates lower than prevailing market rates for loans of similar duration, credit quality, and risk. We will provide affordable loans for nonprofit organizations in the form of bridge financing or working capital and leverage the Foundation’s PRI dollars with other funders or capital investments.

PRIs will be considered on a select-basis for applicants that:

  • Increase the production and preservation of supportive and affordable housing for homeless and low-income individuals; or
  • Develop programs or capital projects that will bring new or expanded services in high-need or underserved communities; and
  • Secure a viable, dedicated source for the repayment of the loan.

The Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for our PRI Fund. If organizations would like to discuss a project, they should contact Rosa Benitez, Senior Program Officer, at rbenitez@weingartfnd.org or (213) 688-6320.

Special Opportunity Fund

The intent of the Special Opportunity Fund (SOF) is to remain flexible and responsive to emerging and critical need. Most grants supported through this Fund will be initiated by the Foundation. In some cases, the Foundation may issue a request for proposals in an area of special interest. While the Foundation will accept unsolicited letters of inquiry (LOIs) for the SOF, we strongly encourage prospective applicants to talk with a member of our program staff before submitting an LOI. Most SOF grants will be project specific (as opposed to unrestricted).

Given the opportunistic nature of this fund, the following general guidelines apply:

  • Proposals that offer a significant and measurable increase in resources, services, and opportunities in high-need, under-resourced communities;
  • Projects addressing the growing imbalance of opportunity in Southern California, including: immigration and housing for the homeless and low-income individuals;
  • Projects that combine equity and economic growth strategies; or
  • Capital projects that strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of organizations working to advance social and economic equity and that meet our Capital guidelines (see above).

Special Issue Areas

As a complement to our responsive grantmaking, the Weingart Foundation will also focus resources on two Special Issue Areas: 1) Housing for homeless and low-income individuals, and 2) Immigrant integration. Funding will be provided either through the Unrestricted Operating Support program, the Special Opportunity Fund, or the Program Related Investment Fund, depending on the nature of the request. Organizations interested in submitting requests are encouraged to seek the guidance of our program staff prior to submitting a letter of inquiry. For information on our goals and funding strategies for these Special Issue Areas, click here.

Grant Limitations

Grants are not made:

  • To organizations that discriminate against certain groups or individuals in the delivery of programs and services on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability;
  • For influencing legislation and/or elections; for political candidates, political campaigns;
  • For social or political issues outside the United States;
  • To individuals;
  • For temporary exhibits, travel, surveys, films or publishing activities;
  • For endowment funds;
  • For fundraising dinners or events;
  • For animal welfare.

Grants generally are not approved for:

  • Research;
  • National organizations that do not have local chapters operating in the Foundation’s geographic area of grant focus;
  • Religious programs, or consumer interest;
  • Feasibility studies.