CFSCC Community Grants - Spring Cycle

Community Foundation Santa Cruz County

Suggest an update

Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $50,000

Next anticipated deadline: Feb 22, 2019 12:00pm PST (Letter of inquiry)

Later anticipated deadlines: May 21, 2019 12:00pm PDT (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, General Operating Expense, Applied Project / Program, Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: Santa Cruz County, California

Location of residency: Santa Cruz County, California

View website    Save Need help writing this grant?

About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary


The Foundation promotes philanthropy to make Santa Cruz County a better place to live now and in the future. We envision a dynamic region that flourishes with vital and inclusive communities, strong and effective nonprofit organizations and local generosity supporting community needs. 

Spring Grant Cycle

The Foundation will accept applications in all six interest areas. Organizations with budgets over $250,000 are welcome to apply. 

Our Interest Areas

Community Grants are awarded in order to achieve broad interest area goals with a special focus on the priorities listed with each goals.

Arts, History and Culture

Stimulate the county's artistic and cultural expression and preserve its diversity, history, traditions, and historic sites

  • Increase access to arts education and participation in cultural experiences, including for those with the least access.
  • Enhance organizations' ability to diversify and expand audiences, board and staff.
  • Preserve historic resources, cultural traditions and practices of diverse populations.

Community Development 

Encourage civic engagement, improve economic health and develop leadership that is diverse and inclusive

  • Expand employment and job training opportunities that lead to career advancement.
  • Support planning and organizing efforts that create positive change in communities.
  • Enhance leadership development opportunities to reflect the profile of the community

Education & Youth Development

Enhance academic achievement and prepare children and youth for college and career

  • Improve the math proficiency of the lowest performing elementary school students (applications by invitation only).
  • Deepen social/emotional support for youth that enhances academic achievement outside of school time.


Engage all populations in environmental stewardship

  • Promote a cross-sector approach to environmental health.
  • Promote watershed and wetland preservation/restoration.
  • Increase awareness and encourage action to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
  • Support environmental education that is coordinated and meets state standards. 


Promote health equity and increase access to community-oriented care

  • Increase awareness and enhance policies that support healthy lifestyles and community well-being.
  • Increase access to integrated services that address community needs through all stages of life.

Human Services

Promote self-reliance of individuals and families to obtain basic services

  • Ensure vulnerable populations have access to information and services that enable them to remain safe and independent.
  • Improve access to food, housing and safe neighborhoods.

Types of Support

Funding is available to support a specific project, to sustain general operations, or to boost organizational effectiveness.

  • Project Support is planning, implementing and evaluating a program or activity that provides direct benefits to the organization’s constituency while achieving measurable results over a specified period of time.
  • 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, cultural competence training or resource/communication development.
    • In making these kinds of grants, we consider:
      • 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 requested to advance the organization’s mission. Check with program staff to ensure your eligibility.
    • In considering requests to apply for general operating support, we consider if the organization:
      • Has been operating for at least seven years.
      • Has a budget large enough to support administrative and program staffing needs.
      • 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 approved objective regarding cultural competency and can demonstrate progress toward implementation.


  • Grants may not exceed 25% of the total organizational budget.
  • Organizations may apply for competitive grants only one time annually.
    • Community, Diversity Partnership, and Rydell Visual Arts Grants are all considered part of our annual competitive grants.
    • Special initiatives beyond these opportunities and donor-advised grants based on our donors’ recommendations are not counted.
  • We do not accept multiple requests from one agency. Multi-service agencies, 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 competitive 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 are required to wait 12 months before re-applying.
    • Donor-advised or special initiative grants do not count toward the time limit.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Applicants must meet the following requirements:
    • Operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a project under the fiscal sponsorship of a nonprofit, or a public agency;
      • If you have operated for less than three years, approach staff for further direction.
    • Benefit residents in Santa Cruz County, the Summit, or the Pajaro Valley;
    • Include Santa Cruz County residents on their board of directors;
    • Adhere to a board-approved nondiscrimination policy regarding employment, governance, and service; and
    • Have an operating budget greater than $250,000.


  • Funding priority will be given to established organizations who promote coordination of services, effective use of resources, and increase organizational capacity to measure their success.
  • The Foundation recognizes the value that small, entrepreneurial organizations bring to the community and will reserve a portion of grant funds to support smaller projects that show the promise of deep and sustainable impact.
  • Our reviewers give priority to organizations that:
    • Involve community members in identifying local needs and crafting responses to them.
    • Employ proven strategies to address recognized needs.
    • Use sound governance and management practices.
    • Leverage other resources and support


  • Grants may not exceed 25% of the total organizational budget. 
  • We don't fund: 
    • Endowments, building campaigns, annual fund appeals, fundraising events, or one-time festivals or celebrations.
    • Individuals.
    • 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.