Melville Charitable Trust - National Grants

Melville Charitable Trust

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Deadline: Rolling

Grant amount: Up to US $1,500,000

Fields of work: Supportive Housing & Shelters Affordable Housing Homelessness Services

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



Note: The majority of our funding is made to organizations independently identified by our staff, who are actively engaged with and learning from practitioners, researchers, government agencies, funder colleagues, and those who have experienced homelessness first hand. We value the knowledge and insights of our grantee partners, many of whom are leaders in the field, and rely on them for counsel.

In order to learn about new work and broaden our knowledge, we have an open inquiry process and accept unsolicited requests.

About Us

We are driven by one goal: Ending homelessness.

We believe that homelessness is a preventable and solvable problem and philanthropy is an essential partner to end it.

Since our founding in 1990, the Melville Charitable Trust has invested over $140 million to end homelessness for good. For over 25 years, we have consistently and strategically invested in proven, lasting, and cost-effective solutions that enable people with the least resources and biggest barriers to success to reclaim their lives. And where solutions have not yet been identified we support exploration and innovation to find the most promising approaches.

Our grantmaking dollars are roughly split between efforts to end homelessness in our home state of Connecticut and in creating a better policy environment at the national level. Connecticut is our proving ground–the place where we support, test, and promote approaches and innovations in ending homelessness. We use this experience to inform our investments in organizations that support the expansion of scalable, cost-effective, and empowering solutions to end homelessness.

Our grantmaking is grounded in three simple beliefs:

  1. Homelessness in the wealthiest democracy in the world is scandalous.
  2. Ending homelessness is within our reach. All we need is the political will to make it happen.
  3. Safe, healthy, and affordable housing is key to ending homelessness.

We are funders and conveners, leaders and advocates for long-term sustainable change.

We are inspired and united by the vision of a society where everyone has a place that they can call home–safe, decent, and affordable places in healthy, economically thriving and supportive communities.

We identify, support, and promote practices that are most effective in ending homelessness.

We strive to build networks and strengthen provider, developer, research, and advocacy communities.

We believe that by working together in deep partnership with advocates, providers, policymakers, and funders we can end homelessness in our nation.

Funding Approach

A 65-year-old veteran who has been living on the street for over a decade.

A family that is struggling after a recent job loss and only enough savings to last a month.

A gay teen who is no longer welcome at home after coming out to his family.

A mom and her child fleeing an abusive partner.

The reasons people become homeless are highly individualized. But most are related to a loss of income, housing, health, safety, or key support systems. Our funding directly addresses these interrelated root causes, with a longstanding commitment to housing as key foundation for dealing with all other issues.

We believe that to effectively meet the needs of thousands of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, each with their own set of strengths and challenges, we need to take a “systems approach” to ensure care is coordinated and each person gets the right response at the right time. Because we know that many people become homeless after living in foster care or being released from jail, we also need to work with systems like child welfare and criminal justice to prevent people from becoming homeless.

A Focus on Systems Change

Too often responses to homelessness have focused on the immediate crisis at hand: lack of shelter, food, or safety. While crisis care is vitally important, what happens over the following weeks and months is critical to preventing a person or family from remaining homeless or ending up homeless again.

Addressing root causes is challenging, and there isn’t always a clear roadmap. We are willing and able to take the long view and learn what is working well and from what is less successful. Based on evidence and our own experience over the past 25 years, we believe that ending homelessness requires:

  • a commitment and willingness for all of us to rethink how we do our work, collaborate, and learn together in new ways
  • organizations to cross traditional boundaries and individuals to change and expand their roles and relationships
  • the support and engagement of influential leaders who believe homelessness can be ended and can communicate a vision for doing so

This is our framework for funding “systems change.”

Our focus on systems change is the reason that we don’t, by and large, fund individual programs or independent activities. Instead, we partner with advocates, providers, researchers, and policymakers to fund efforts to address the fundamental systemic social problems that are the root causes of homelessness.

We invest in approaches that focus on strengthening relationships between people and between organizations, improving ways of working together, cultivating civic and political will, and building the leadership needed to make change happen.

How does a system change funding approach look on the ground?

We target funding opportunities that:

  1. BUILD THE CAPACITY OF SERVICE PROVIDERS: Our funding strengthens the capacity of housing and service providers to design and deliver effective practices, collaborate, and track and assess performance. Learn more about the Medicaid Institute for Supportive Housing Agencies
  2. TRANSFORM PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SYSTEMS: We seek to transform public and private systems, helping them to implement effective policies and programs, collaborate within and across agencies, track outcomes, and evaluate their performance. Learn about our pilot program Secure Jobs CT
  3. INCREASE CIVIC AND POLITICAL WILL & INVESTMENT: We support efforts that increase civic and political support for strategies that expand effective practices, and encourage public and private investment in these proven programs and promising practices. See the in-depth reporting on housing and homelessness from NPR and WNPR
  4. BUILD LEADERSHIP IN THE FIELD: We provide support to leaders with vision and build leadership in the field by supporting “backbone” organizations that work across sectors, leading initiatives, guiding strategy, aligning activities, measuring progress, and streamlining collaboration. Learn more about the Partnership for Strong Communities and the Reaching Home Campaign



It may sound obvious, but a home is the best intervention to end homelessness. That's why since our founding over 25 years ago, we have always prioritized housing-centered solutions.

Whether you live in Boise or Boston, safe, affordable, and quality housing is key to an individual's health and to a community's stability and growth. Research has proven the far ranging impacts of housing on the whole family. Housing is a key factor in how well kids do in school and even how much they earn as adults. It can affect children’s mental, physical, and emotional health, and their safety. For families, housing cost and quality is a major determinant of household budgets and access to jobs.

  • Increase Housing Supply
  • Expand Housing Affordability and Access

Read more about housing.

Health & Support

Often it is a combination of factors that push individuals and families into homelessness, with one loss or struggle leading to another—losing a job, a serious illness, family conflict, or just an inability to make enough to afford rising rents.

Most people are able to get back on their feet within a short period of time, particularly if there is affordable housing in the community. But for others who are dealing with disabling health issues, mental health struggles, domestic violence, or addiction, finding and keeping a home can be extremely challenging. Our funding is targeted to end the cycle of homelessness for those most at risk.

  • Expand Supportive Housing
  • Prevention and Intervention

Read more about Health & Support. 


People experiencing homelessness or on the verge of homelessness have the most acute need for income, yet they are the least likely to be connected to training and job opportunities.

  • Strengthen Employment Outcomes

Read more about Income.

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


  • When evaluating requests for funding, we consider these questions:
    • Impact: Will this work have a clear impact on ending homelessness or provide opportunities to test a promising model? Are these anticipated results clearly described?
    • Priorities: Will it address one of more of our program areas: Housing, Health and Support or Income
    • Geography: Will our investment support important advocacy at the national level
    • Systems Change: Will our investment change the way people and organizations currently do business? Will it move systems by enlisting partners and pushing policies, perceptions, and practices toward effective solutions rather than advancing individual and independent activities?
    • Add Value/Replicable: Will it fill an important gap in our approach to homelessness or teach us something that will be useful to others working to end homelessness?
    • Person-focused: Is the investment consistent with the values of autonomy, opportunity, and resilience? Will the project ensure that the person/family served is at the center of all strategies and is entrusted to make their own decisions, or strengthen their ability to bounce back from crisis? Read more about our values
    • Leadership: Does the organization have the capacity to deliver results? Do they have a strong record of performance, sound management, and a strong focus on outcomes? For collaborative efforts, we are looking for a talented organization to provide leadership, coordination, and support to the effort.
    • Leverage: Does the project leverage the work or funding of others?


  • Note that we do not provide funding for:
    • local initiatives outside of our home state of Connecticut,
    • direct support to individuals or scholarships,
    • religious organizations for religious purposes,
    • general fundraising drives or events,
    • organizations without tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and “not a private foundation” under section 509(a) of the Code, or
    • organizations that do not comply with our non-discrimination statement.


This page was last reviewed July 30, 2020 and last updated July 30, 2020