Step 1: You submit an online letter of inquiry.
This is your opportunity to provide us with a high level overview of your request. While you do need to provide all the information requested, don’t worry if it feels incomplete. We’ll ask for more details when we need them. We'd like you to submit one comprehensive grant request per year, which means if you know you need funding in the spring and will again in the fall, include both in the same request.
You may submit your LOI at any time throughout the year. However, because they may require greater due diligence and additional levels of approval, there are specific deadlines for requests of more than $10,000. Those deadlines are:
- Letter of Inquiry Due Date September 1 by 5 p.m.
- Application Due Date October 3 by 5 p.m.
Funding decisions will be made the week of December 12.
- Letter of Inquiry Due Date February 1 by 5 p.m.
- Application Due Date March 30 by 5 p.m.
Funding decisions will be made the week of June 12.
- Letter of Inquiry Due Date August 1 by 5 p.m.
- Application Due Date September 28 by 5 p.m.
Funding decisions will be made the week of December 11.
Our system requires you to complete your LOI in one session. We recommend that you first enter the information into a document you can save on your computer, then copy and paste it into our online form. Click here for more tips for completing your LOI.
Step 2: We review your letter of inquiry.
First and foremost we are looking to ensure that your request aligns with our community investment priorities. Then we're looking for proposals that:
- Demonstrate a commitment to culturally-competent strategies to better serve the full diversity of Kalamazoo County;
- Use data and best practices to guide their work;
- Leverage the strengths and resources of partnerships with other organizations;
- Seek and use input from people outside the organization; and
- Carry out ongoing evaluation with evidence-based measures.
We have a team approach to grantmaking. That means that, as a team, we will:
- Assign a Community Investment team member to work with you throughout the process;
- Follow up by phone or email;* and
- Let you know if your inquiry is moving forward to a formal grant application.
Step 3: You complete the online grant application.
If we recommend that you move forward with a full grant application, you'll complete the online grant application by the date we give you. Our team is here to support you throughout this process, so please don't hesitate to ask for help or advice. You may be able to find answers to some of your questions on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Step 4: We review your grant application.
For each request, after we determine it aligns with our priorities, we consider if your organization:
- Has effective leadership to carry out the work as outlined;
- Demonstrates cultural competency in its programs, policies and procedures, thereby ensuring access and quality service for the full diversity of the community;
- Uses data and best practices to guide strategies;
- Demonstrates an ability to learn and adapt;
- Leverages the strengths and resources of partnerships and works in collaboration towards shared outcomes;
- Involves people you serve in shaping programming or in formal leadership roles;
- Carries out ongoing evaluation;
- Has measurable outcomes;
- Has a sustainable fund development strategy; and
- Understands and seeks to improve the sector you are in through technical support, collaboration or advocacy.
We consider all of these factors, but our team also is committed to providing guidance and support to organizations that are still building their capacity in these areas.
Step 5: Final grant decisions are made.
A final decision about your grant is made. Your organization may receive full or partial funding, or in some cases we may decline to fund your project. Our team will:
- Inform you of the decision made about your grant.
- If approved, provide you with a Grant Agreement.
After the grant agreement is signed and returned to us, a grant check will be mailed. When your project is finished, we will ask you to report on your progress toward your goals and outcomes. This requirement must be fulfilled before you can apply for another grant. Reporting is done electronically through our online reporting tool and through your attendance of a Results and Learning Forum.
*We review LOIs on the first Thursday of each month. To have your LOI reviewed on that day, it must be submitted by 5 p.m. on the Friday before. We will get back to you within 10 business days of when we review your LOI.