2023 Community Grants Program
Request for proposals (RFP), letter of inquiry (LOI) and application questions, applicant resources, and additional FAQs
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2023 Community Grants Program
For 25 years, the Community Grants Program, with strong support of OCF donors, has invested in strengthening the social fabric of communities by responding to the many challenges facing Oregonians. The 2023 Community Grants Program will continue to provide flexible funding for nonprofits addressing pressing needs of communities across Oregon.
Please note the new elements of the Community Grants Program for 2023 below and review the FAQs and table for additional information. Program details are found in the Request for Proposals (RFP), Program Guidelines and FAQs.
- We are introducing a letter of inquiry (LOI)
- There will be two grant cycles, each offering distinct types of funding
To provide equitable access to funding for organizations serving communities' most pressing needs throughout Oregon.
General Organizational Eligibility
501(c)(3) organizations, Tribal entities and government entities are eligible to apply. Additionally, organizations may work with a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor to apply. Applicants must submit legal paperwork confirming the fiscal sponsor relationship.
IMPORTANT: Organizations, except for religious organizations, must be registered with the Oregon Department of Justice and Oregon Secretary of State in order to be eligible to apply for grants from OCF.
OCF will award at least $7 million through Community Grants for 2023. Approximately $3.5 million will be made available for small rural and culturally specific organizations seeking general operating support in the Spring Cycle. We recognize the needs of communities they serve will far exceed the funding available through this grant program. A broad range of nonprofits are eligible to submit a letter of inquiry. We will prioritize funding for work that is clearly addressing community-identified needs in support of the following populations across urban and rural regions of Oregon (populations are listed in alphabetical order):
- Black, Indigenous, Latinx and people of color
- Immigrants and/or refugees
- People experiencing disabilities
- People living on low incomes
- People living in under-resourced communities and/or communities lacking critical infrastructure
- People who are homeless/unsheltered
- People who identify as LGBTQIA+
- Survivors of domestic violence and/or child abuse
New Elements for 2023
Letter of Inquiry
Applicants that meet the eligibility guidelines according to the type of funding they are seeking are encouraged to submit a letter of inquiry (LOI). The LOI is an abbreviated application on which applicants briefly outline their funding request. Program staff and trained volunteers will review the LOI for program fit — alignment with the program guidelines, funding priorities, and available funding — before inviting competitive applicants to formally apply by submitting supplemental information.
Cycles and General Timeline
There are two grant cycles in 2023, each offering distinct types of funding:
- Spring 2023: General Operating Support
- Fall 2023: Organizational Enhancement
See this table for a breakdown of each cycle’s funding type, timeline, and eligibility.
Request for Proposals:
We highly encourage applicants to review the Spring 2023 RFP - Program Guidelines, which includes:
- Breakdown of Spring Cycle’s funding type, timeline, and eligibility
- Key cycle dates and planning steps
- Copy of the LOI and application questions
- Tips on what makes a compelling LOI/application
- OCF review process and review criteria (new)
- Connecting to OCF donors (Organizational Profile Tool)
Steps to submit an LOI and application:
- Step 1: Review the RFP – Program Guidelines
- Step 2: Login or set up a new account on MyOCF and create or update Organizational Profile
- Step 3: Submit your letter of inquiry (LOI) through the MyOCF grants portal.
- Submissions received between March 6 and March 20, 2023, at 5 p.m.
- LOI decline notifications and invitations to apply for a grant will be sent on April 20, 2023.
If formally invited to apply:
- Step 4: Submit your application on MyOCF
- Submissions received between April 24 – May 4, 2023 at 5 p.m.
- We encourage organizations to mark these dates on your calendars now to ensure adequate time to complete your application.
Submission Confirmation: Make sure to press the “submit” button to submit your completed LOI and application. An OCF email confirming receipt of your application will be sent shortly after your submission.
Applicant Webinar – 2023 Spring Cycle | General Operating Support
The February 15 General Operating Support Applicant Webinar has reached capacity. If you are not currently registered, please know that a recording of the webinar will be available on this page shortly after.
If your organization is interested in organization enhancement support (capacity building, project/program, capital), please check back for information on the Fall Cycle applicant webinar in June.
Connecting with OCF Staff About Your Proposal
- Regional OCF Program Officers will be available for 30-minute meetings (one per organization) to support those interested in applying for general operating support in 2023.
- You are welcome to invite other staff or partners to join the call (3 people max) and will be able to list their names on the event.
- Depending on the volume of nonprofits seeking funding, staff may give priority to first time applicants if needed.
- To schedule a meeting with an OCF regional program officer, click on their scheduling link below. Select your preferred date, time and meeting location (zoom or phone). Once submitted, you will receive confirmation and a calendar appointment with the meeting information.
Central Oregon and Eastern Oregon
Counties: Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa Wasco and Wheeler Counties
Tribes: Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Burns Paiute Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Counties: Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln and Tillamook Counties
Tribes: Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Northern Willamette Valley
Counties: Marion, Polk, and Yamhill Counties
Tribes: Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde
South Coast and Southern Willamette Valley
Counties: Benton Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lane and Linn Counties
Tribes: Coquille Indian Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indians
Counties: Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lake Counties
Tribes: Klamath Tribes
- Clackamas County and Multnomah County organizations A-F:
- Washington County and Multnomah County organizations G-O:
- Hood River County and Multnomah County organizations P-Z:
Frequently Asked Questions
The LOI is an abbreviated application on which applicants briefly outline their funding request. Program staff and trained volunteers will review the LOIs for program fit—alignment with the program guidelines, funding priorities, and available funding—before inviting competitive applicants to formally apply by submitting supplemental information.
501(c)(3) organizations, Tribal entities and government entities are eligible to submit an LOI and may be invited to apply for a grant. Additionally, organizations may work with a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor to apply. Applicants must submit formal paperwork confirming the fiscal sponsor relationship with their application.
Please note: Fiscal sponsorship materials will not be accepted past the LOI deadline of March 20, 2023.
In addition to the general eligibility requirements above, organizations must meet the cycle eligibility. See the definitions of culturally-specific organizations and rural-based organizations in the FAQs below and review the eligibility chart for guidance.
Your letter of inquiry should be submitted and received by March 20, 2023, at 5 p.m. We experience an influx of submissions close to the LOI deadline and highly recommend you submit your LOI and receive email confirmation of your submission via MyOCF. If you do not receive confirmation of your submission by email, your application has not been submitted.
LOI declines and invitations to formally apply for a Community Grant will be sent by email on April 20. Invited applicants will have up to 10 days (April 24 – May 4, 5pm) to submit their application for general operating support. We strongly encourage applicants to block these days out in advance on their calendars to ensure adequate time to submit the application. (Please see RFP – Program Guidelines for further application details).
Typical ranges are $10,000 - $30,000. We will consider requests up to $40,000, especially for efforts that closely match Community Grant funding priorities, benefit priority populations, and clearly demonstrate the timeliness, feasibility and impact of an OCF grant of this size.
All eligible organizations based in Oregon or primarily serving Oregon communities are eligible to apply.
No. All 2023 grants will be one year in duration.
Yes! Arts & culture, environmental and other organizations whose mission is key to building and supporting healthy, thriving and resilient communities are welcome to apply. We highly encourage organizations to apply for needs that align with our funding priorities. See RFP – Program Guidelines for funding priorities in 2023.
The examples below highlight a few proposals that demonstrate a strong alignment with priority populations:
Project A: A museum in Klamath County highlights the work of a celebrated and contemporary Klamath Tribe artist in that artist’s homelands for the first time. The request demonstrates strong community engagement with Tribal leaders, strengthening the new relationship between the museum and the Tribe.
Project B: A small land trust on the Oregon Coast applies capacity building funds to contract financial management support to free the executive director’s time to focus on a partnership with an under-resourced municipality to protect the local residential drinking water source.
Project C: A statewide land stewardship group based in a rural community takes an intersectional approach to addressing a critical gap in access to land for farming. With key partnerships in place, the project will support Black, Indigenous and Latinx farmers in accessing education, financial support and technical assistance to address systemic bias in local food systems.
Project D: A regional arts organization requests funding for a guest curator program, compensating local Black, Indigenous and artists of color in designing shows that emphasize the organization’s commitment to presenting work by historically marginalized community members and actively addressing the difficult history of their region.
In the context of OCF’s Community Grants program, an organization is culturally specific if:
- Its mission, activities and outreach all intentionally focus on one or more populations that have experienced significant bias or discrimination due to their race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, immigrant/refugee status, or national origin
- The organization’s staff, board and volunteers reflect the population(s) they serve
- The population(s) being served recognizes the organization as specific to their community
- The majority of members and/or clients are from the specified community, such as Black/African/African American, Indigenous/Native American, Latinx, Asian/Asian American, Middle Eastern, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, immigrant and refugee, people experiencing disabilities or LGBTQI+.
An organization that focuses on a community with a population of 35,000 or fewer that is NOT directly adjacent to (or part of a) metropolitan area of 50,000 or more.
Under-resourced communities have high proportions of low to moderate income residents and generally receive below average services and financial resources from government sources. Many, but not all, of them comprise an above average number of people of color, immigrants, and/or geographically-isolated individuals. People earn lower incomes due to many factors, but they often have been negatively impacted by social and economic marginalization. Some communities have been intentionally disenfranchised by decades of redlining and/or economic disinvestment that limits access to resources and services, devalues physical assets, and weakens community anchor institutions. Others may experience geographic isolation that results in limited investment in critical infrastructure such as medical facilities, internet connectivity and transportation. Combined, these conditions create what we refer to as under-resourced communities.
An organization that received a Community Grant in 2022 is eligible to apply for general operating support this spring only if they are a (1) rural-based organization with an operating budget of $250,000 or less or (2) culturally specific organization located in Oregon (any operating budget size).
Yes, LOIs and applications submitted to this program are reviewed independently from other OCF programs. Other applications with other grant programs will not affect your eligibility or competitiveness for this program.
Your application will be accessible to OCF donors regardless of request type or size. We also encourage you to share information with donors by filling out the Organizational Profile Form on our website. The latter is not an application but does allow you to share your organization's needs with donors.
Approved and declined applicants will be notified by email on June 8th. Awards will be distributed on the same day via check or ACH.
Due to highly limited resources, we are restricting operating support requests to organizations who serve communities who have experienced historical underinvestment due to systems, practices, and policies. OCF aims to provide general operating support to communities who have been historically underrepresented in OCF's grantmaking, both in terms of requesting and receiving funding, and those who have not had the same level of access to outside sources of funding.
If your organization’s most urgent need is operating support and you don’t fit the criteria, we encourage you to share your needs with donors by submitting information through the Organization Profile Form on our website. This form is not a grant application, but a tool to help OCF collect information on needs that can be shared with donors.
There are no reporting requirements for grantees that receive general operating support through the 2023 spring cycle. However, grantees may receive an open invitation in 2023 to connect with a regional program officer to share more about the organization’s goals and explore how OCF can partner with the organization.
The organization enhancement cycle will accept LOIs in July with fund distribution in November 2023.
We will update the program website and organizations within our network when we have the final program details to share. We will also host an applicant webinar in June before the LOI window opens in July.
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