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Focus Grants

Focus Grants are awarded to organizations that clearly demonstrate how they are disrupting intergenerational poverty. Our awards vary in size, typically ranging between $25,000 and $50,000. Currently, we provide two Focus Grant cycles annually on the following timeline:

Cycle 1 opens February 15   |   Cycle 1 closes March 31*
Cycle 2 opens July 15   |   Cycle 2 closes August 31*

*If on a weekend, the deadline will move to the Friday prior at midnight.

Visit our Grantmaking Framework page to see if your organization’s efforts align with our funding strategy and view our Community Impact Lens that we use to assess all proposals. We have also included our Intentions of the Focus Grant Program. Listed below are some Frequently Asked Questions. If your organization is not a 501(c)3, please review our Fiscal Sponsorship Form to learn more about how we partner with grassroots and emerging organizations. We also recommend looking at our Non-Discrimination Policy.

If you need additional assistance, please contact our Program Team at [email protected].

Intention of Focus Grant Program

Through our discretionary grantmaking, we acknowledge the experience of intergenerational poverty is not shared equally in our community. Throughout history, policies have systemically excluded communities of color from the opportunities we all need to thrive, directly affecting their disproportionate experience of poverty. Through our discretionary grantmaking, we are committed to reducing disparities by:

  • Supporting organizations working to address the root causes of intergenerational poverty like racial and structural inequities and helping create policies and systems that center people with lived experience.
  • Prioritizing organizations led by members of the communities for which they serve.
  • Reaching into each of our communities in southwest Washington and actively engaging as a strategic partner to all the counties we serve.
  • Increasing the capacity of organizations in the community whose work, mission and values align with the mission, vision and values of the Community Foundation.
  • Investing in innovative strategies that are guided by community need to solve emerging and structural societal issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should I talk to before applying?
If you have questions about alignment with the Focus Grant Program’s Intergenerational Poverty Framework; or if would like to discuss your proposal concept or application, you can contact Maka, our Regional Cowlitz Program Officer, or Esra, our Regional Clark and Skamania Program Officer. Due to our small staff size, in advance of the application deadline, we may have limited availability to meet but we will make our best efforts to be available as needed.
Who is eligible to apply for funding?
Nonprofits, fiscally sponsored projects, government and tribal agencies, churches and schools working to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty in Clark, Cowlitz, or Skamania Counties are eligible to apply. We do not fund debt reduction, endowments, parent teacher associations or booster clubs.
Does an organization have to be a registered 501(c)3 to apply?
No. You may apply if you have a fiscal sponsor that is an established 501(c)3. This organization should have a mission aligned with yours, as well as the administrative capacity to accept the legal responsibility for the grant and administer it accordingly. Please see our Fiscal Sponsorship Form for more details. Government agencies (including public schools), tribal agencies or faith-based organizations are also eligible to apply.
Can organizations that are not headquartered in southwest Washington apply?
Yes. As long as an organization has programs or projects serving people in southwest Washington, it is eligible to apply for funding.
How do I determine if our request aligns with the Focus Grant program criteria?
If you have questions regarding alignment, please review our Grantmaking Framework and read our Community Impact Lens. Click here to see our criteria guiding decision-making. If you still have questions, we encourage you to reach out to a member of our Program Team: Maka Gibson, Regional Cowlitz Program Officer or Esra Khalil, Regional Clark and Skamania Program Officer.
Does the Focus Grant Program target its investments to specific priority populations?
Yes. The Focus Grant Program is supported by the Community Foundation’s discretionary grant dollars. While there are a diverse range of nonprofits working on critical community issues, we know that nonprofits’ funding needs far exceed our limited grant dollars. Therefore the Community Foundation has prioritized investing in organizations working to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty in the following populations disproportionally impacted by economic, racial and/or social inequities in our region (listed alphabetically): Black, Indigenous, Latina/o/x, Native Hawaiian, Pasifika, Communities of Color; Immigrants and/or Refugees; Foster youth and foster youth aging out of system, Historically under-resourced communities or communities lacking critical infrastructure, People living with behavioral health issues, People living with disabilities (developmental, intellectual, neurodivergent, physical); People living on low incomes; People who identify as LGBTQ2S+; People who are unstably housed/unhoused; Rural and distressed communities; Survivors of domestic violence, gender violence and/or child abuse.
What types of funding support are included?
Beginning in 2021, we will classify all Focus Grant awards as general operating support. For organizations headquartered outside of our service area, we do ask for a southwest Washington specific project budget.
What is the average size of a Focus Grant award?
The average range of a Focus Grant is $25,000 - $50,000.
How often can an organization apply for a Focus Grant?
If your organization is awarded funding in Cycle 1, we request you wait until the next calendar year to submit another proposal. If your organization's request is declined in Cycle 1, you can apply in Cycle 2 of the same calendar year. If your organization receives an award in Cycle 2, you are eligible to apply in Cycle 1 of the following calendar year.
Can an organization apply for multi-year funding?
We make a limited number of multi-year awards. If you are interested in exploring multi-year funding, please contact a member of our Program Team prior to submitting an application. You can reach out to Maka, Regional Cowlitz Program Officer, or Esra, Regional Clark and Skamania Program Officer.
Are there character limits on the questions in the application?
The only question with a defined character count is the brief description of the request. For the remainder of the application, we ask that you define the community need, your approach and intended impact in a concise manner.
What data should I include in my application?
We request that only relevant localized data or information is included. If more information is needed, a member of the Program Team will reach out to for follow-up.
What happens after an application is submitted?
We strive to respond to applicants within eight to ten weeks of the close of our grant cycle. After the cycle closes, the Program Team begins an initial vetting phase to ensure applications are complete and aligned with the grantmaking criteria. Sometimes, a member from the Program Team will reach out to applicants for follow-up questions. Then the Discretionary Grants Committee begins a robust grant review and discussion process before making award decisions. Once complete, approved grants are paid directly to the applicant organizations.
Who supports the decision-making process for the Focus Grant Program?
Since the creation of the Focus Grant Program, we have relied on local volunteers to connect the Community Foundation’s resources with the needs in our community. Our regional grants committee has been a hallmark of our regional grants program.

As our knowledge and understanding of best practices in the field of philanthropy has continued to evolve, we have worked to ensure our grants committee is comprised of members who have local knowledge, expertise and connections to the communities we are working in partnership with to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty. We have geographic representation from all three counties. Additionally, we have a diverse coalition of members who work across systems and sectors and have expertise in the following areas that align with our Focus Grant impact investment areas: housing, mental health, K-12 education, higher education, community organizing, social services and workforce development.
Do Focus Grant applications receive consideration for other Community Foundation funding streams?
Yes. Our goal is to ensure as many proposals receive funding as possible. Throughout the review process, we will share applications with our Donor Relations team in an effort to identify alignment between unfunded proposals and fundholder interests. If a proposal is selected for funding, that organization will receive an award notification letter and grant check. Organizations that receive such funding from Donor Advised Funds should address all acknowledgements as specified in the award letter.
How can my organization apply to other funds administered by the Community Foundation?
Program staff will share applications with our donor-advised funds based on those fund’s priorities in an effort to identify alignment between submitted proposals and fundholder interests. Organizations cannot apply directly to these funds for support.
What are the reporting requirements for grantees?
At this time, we do not require post-award reports. However, members of the Program Team will be reaching out during the second half of your grant award period to learn about successes and/or challenges your organization is experiencing. Our hope is to partner with you on your work and to stay in open communication with you as your work unfolds. These informal check-ins are always scheduled, and can be conducted in person or by phone.
Do you provide feedback on unfunded applications?
Yes, please contact Maka, our Regional Cowlitz Program Officer, or Esra, our Regional Clark and Skamania Program Officer.
Do you provide sponsorships for events?
Yes, we provide sponsorship for events that are closely aligned with our Grantmaking Framework and our Community Impact Lens. If you would like to request a sponsorship, please reach out to a member of our Program Team.

Non-Discriminatory Policy

To comply with state and federal laws, the Community Foundation maintains a non-discriminatory policy that extends to its grantmaking and scholarships. This policy states that award decisions do not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, citizenship status, creed, religion, religious affiliation, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status or any other protected status under applicable law. Staff, fundholders and board and committee members must uphold this policy for legal obligations, but also as part of our organization’s promise to advance equity and serve all residents in southwest Washington.

Ian Thompson“The grants we received through the Community Foundation have allowed our program to flourish considerably in the community. We are just four years in and have already connected hundreds of children and families to the joys that school gardens provide.”

– Ian Thompson
Executive Director
Lower Columbia School Gardens