We understand our grant categories and criteria are asking for organizations to work differently than they may have in the past. Finding the way into deeper collaboration, learning and adapting often requires that we pause and take stock of where we are and where we want to go. Whether you’re developing a new community asset or trying to change an entrenched system – new ways of working may require coaching, consulting, and facilitated processes. Seed Grants can help support this type of groundwork that must happen before the rubber ever meets the road. You have heard us and others say, “go slow to go fast.” Seed Grants are part of our “patient capital” that helps build strong foundations for deeper impact.    

Please refer to the Grant Guidance Document for all guidelines and a full list of required attachments. Click here to view the Seed Grant application questions.


Seed Grants are intended to support ventures where a small investment could go a long way toward a larger impact. They are often used for convening, planning or capacity building stages of larger projects like those that could be funded under the Assets for Thriving Communities or Systems Change Accelerator programs. They are an early step, a seed that given the right conditions will grow into something much more.


Seed grants can be used for a variety of purposes, not limited to:

  • Convening stakeholders to better understand a community problem and potential leverage points for change
  • Assessing and building the capacity of organizations, partners or networks to move forward together
  • Creating cultures and structures that enable deeper connections, continuous learning and adaptation
  • Planning new strategies and/or aligning actions that are aimed at high-leverage points for change

Example activities (not an exhaustive list, feel free to bring other ideas forward that meet the overall purpose of the grant):

  • Organization, partner or network development activities – especially those that will improve connectivity, learning and the ability to adapt and respond to changing conditions
  • Network convening around a complex community issue
  • Capacity assessment & planning for organizations, partnerships and networks
  • System or issue mapping
  • Network/partner/landscape mapping
  • Designing processes and tools for deeper learning
  • Assessing and improving team dynamics or organizational or network culture
  • Project/program design, especially for projects with the potential for ripple effects throughout a system
  • Executive transition planning
  • Board and staff leadership development
  • Database/information systems development
  • Community planning to implement high priority projects
  • Master planning


A strong Seed Grant applicant will have demonstrated some experience in criteria below, or a desire to improve in the criteria areas. It is intended that Seed Grants will help organizations, partnerships and networks strengthen one or more of these criteria:

  • Aligned: Proposed work is aligned with the purpose of the grant category, and it is likely to produce intended results. Work is aligned with other work in the larger system to maximize impact.
  • Inclusive: Key stakeholders are meaningfully engaged, including those most affected by the problem and those who have the most ability to affect change.
  • Collaborative: Key stakeholders continue to be involved at the level that is best for initiatives – anywhere from an advisory capacity to a joint venture where ownership and decision-making is shared.
  • Resourceful: Existing resources and assets are used creatively to make the most out of what the system already has.
  • Reflective: Strategies and actions are based on insights from regularly learning from three directions: looking outward at global and national trends; around at the local ecosystem around the issue; and inward at the culture, mindsets and practices of  self, staff, board, volunteers and members.
  • Adaptive: New insights are regularly turned into actions that quickly prototype and test upstream solutions to downstream problems.


Eligible applicants for funding include all 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, units of government and local school districts serving Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska or Leelanau Counties. Partnerships and networks are encouraged to apply using an eligible organization as a fiduciary.


15th of the month, the Board makes decisions at their monthly board meeting, typically the first Thursday of the month.


Up to $10,000, 25% match of request required (combination of cash and in-kind)

1 year


First, contact Stacey Foster to set up a meeting with staff to discuss your project: sfoster@rotarycharities.org or (231) 941-4010. 

View grant portal application instructions here. Access the online application HERE.