We support the convening, planning & capacity building that make projects possible. Our Seed grants make small investments with potential for big 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.

WHAT WE FUND

Seed grants fund the beginning stages of projects with the potential for broad community impact that may eventually be strong applicants for an Assets for Thriving Communities grant or a Systems Change Accelerator grant.

Finding the way into deeper collaboration, learning and adapting – as described in our Grant Criteria below – 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.   

POTENTIAL GRANT USES

Including but not limited to what’s listed here. Bring your ideas that best suit your project needs.

  • Convening stakeholders to better understand a community problem or need, and opportunities for development
  • Community planning to implement high priority projects
  • Feasibility studies, market analyses, needs assessments, other research
  • Planning new strategies and/or aligning actions with others
  • Assessing and building the capacity of organizations, partners or networks to move forward together
  • Network convening around a complex community issue
  • Organization, partner or network development activities – especially those that will improve connectivity, learning and the ability to adapt and respond to changing conditions
  • Designing processes and tools for deeper learning
  • Executive transition planning
  • Database/information systems development

GRANT CRITERIA

We’ve learned from our grantees over the years that projects most likely to achieve long-lasting results involve deep collaboration, resourcefulness and the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. We support changemakers who can demonstrate some experience and/or interest in building their capacity in these areas. We do not expect applicants to excel in all criteria. These are aspirational goals and we encourage changemakers to grow into these criteria over time. If an applicant is weaker in an area, it would be viewed favorably if they are honest about that in an application and genuinely want to grow in that area.

Inclusive: “Nothing about me without me.”
Those closest to an issue or opportunity have strong solutions for a way forward. Involve those most affected by an issue or opportunity as well as those who have the most ability to affect change.

Collaborative: “Do what you do best, partner for the rest.”
We are stronger and smarter together. Collaboration can take a variety of forms, from an advisory team to a joint venture where ownership and decision-making are shared.

Resourceful: “Make the most of what the community has”
Creatively leveraging the knowledge, capital and infrastructure that is already available makes for sustainable, relevant initiatives.

Reflective: “Learn from looking out, around and in”
Learning does not take time away from work, weaving learning into the everyday IS the work. We must learn from what is happening globally and nationally; in our local contexts and ecosystem; and within the culture, mindsets and practices of our organizations, teams and ourselves.

Adaptive: “Take action on what you learn”
Building flexibility into strategies helps us use what we are learning to adapt to what’s needed, when it’s needed. Principles of Prototyping and Adaptive Leadership can help.

Aligned: “See & situate your work in relation to others”
Our systems are interconnected and demand interconnected, not piecemeal, solutions – including changemaking and community asset building. Get to know others who are working toward a similar vision. What part of the problem are they most familiar with? Work in ways that complement each other.

ELIGIBILITY

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.

DEADLINE

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

AMOUNT & DURATION

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

1 year

NEXT STEPS

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.