Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant Program
OCF understands the important role that entrepreneurs play in shaping our economic and community vitality in Oregon. For over a decade, OCF has provided grants to nonprofit organizations that support entrepreneurs across the state. Entrepreneurs have big ideas and creative ways to solve problems, but they often need help developing their business plans, go-to-market strategies, recruiting talented teams or board members, and raising money. We know entrepreneurs who are women, people of color, or who live in rural communities struggle more than others to grow and scale their companies.
The Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant is designed to provide an open, responsive grantmaking opportunity that offers organizations flexible funding, with prioritized support for those organizations that serve entrepreneurs who are women, people of color, living in rural communities, or working in under-resourced sectors such as consumer products. Priority will also be given to organizations that work with entrepreneurs who are aspiring to develop traded sector companies. Funding is not available for individuals; OCF makes grants to nonprofits only.
- We value Oregon’s diverse regions and populations, and we seek to advance equity, diversity and inclusion through our funding.
- We are committed to funding across Oregon with grant dollars reaching our remote, rural, suburban, and urban communities across every region of our state.
- We give high priority to investments that are creatively addressing needs and position entrepreneurs to thrive in Oregon.
- We prioritize investments that demonstrate strong community support, solid planning and wise stewardship.
We know that funding needs will far exceed our limited grant dollars. Priority will be given to organizations that either have a demonstrated track record of success working with diverse entrepreneurs or a promising approach and plan to serve entrepreneurs in a new way. Both experienced and new organizations are encouraged to apply.
OCF does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ability/disability, age, status as a veteran, national origin or any other protected class. Applicants for 2021 Thriving Entrepreneurs Grants must hold similar standards in the provision of services.
In 2021, OCF anticipates awarding at least $500,000. We aim to fund a mix of proposals in communities across Oregon and anticipate funding organizations serving diverse entrepreneurs.
There is one opportunity to apply for a Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant in 2021. The application will open on May 18, 2021 and all applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on June 25, 2021. As part of the decision-making process, applicants may be contacted for additional information or a virtual site visit during the summer. Notice of funding may be provided as early as August, but all decisions may not be finalized until November 2021.
Grant Types and Amounts
All grants will be one year in duration. Applicants may apply for programmatic support or project specific funding. Staffing expenses are allowed. Applicants should apply for the amount they need and describe why they need that amount, but most grants will not exceed $25,000.
The application window opens May 18, 2021 and applications are due June 25, 2021 at 5:00 p.m., with all decisions made by early November 2021.
Online applications are accepted through MyOCF.
To preview the list of application questions, please visit here.
GENERAL ORGANIZATIONAL ELIGIBILITY
- 501(c)(3) organizations, Tribal entities and government entities are eligible to apply. Additionally, other types of organizations may work with a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor to submit an application. Applicants must submit formal paperwork confirming the fiscal sponsor relationship.
- Organizations with an active Community Grant, Oregon Community Recovery Fund grant or any other OCF grant are eligible to apply.
- Organizations scheduled to apply for renewal of an active Community Grant may submit either a Community Grants Renewal application or a new 2021 Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant application, but not both.
- Organizations may apply for a 2021 Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant only once.
What We Look for in Strong Proposals
The strongest proposals will:
- Address a clear and compelling community need
- Have goals/work that are relevant to Oregon’s entrepreneurs
- If the project addresses the needs of a specific population, have staff and board with appropriate cultural expertise to serve that population
- Demonstrate that people with lived experience are meaningfully leading and/or influencing the work
- Reflect realistic goals and solid planning
- Show strong potential to build the organization’s stability, effectiveness or capacity
- Demonstrate strong community support, including the support of people being served
- Clearly communicate the role and potential impact of an OCF grant in this moment
- Have a realistic plan for securing remaining funds needed to carry out the work within the grant period
- If the proposal involves new staff or other significant on-going expense, explain how they are thinking about sustainability
Priority will be given to organizations that:
- Primarily serve one or more priority populations (women, people of color, living in rural communities, or working in under-resourced sectors)
- Are reasonably positioned for long-term organizational viability
- Support OCF in advancing equity, diversity and inclusion through our funding
- Reflect a strengths-based orientation
- Work to create positive, substantive change
Activities We Typically Won’t Fund in 2021
- Capital Projects
- Projects in individual schools
- Grants to subsidize participation (scholarships) or re-granting programs
- Purchases or activities that occur prior to grant decisions
- Deficit funding
- Funding for public entities to replace government dollars
- Lobbying to influence legislation (a particular bill)
- Scientific research
- Religious activities
- Annual fund appeals and contributions to endowments
How to Apply
The application window opens May 18, 2021, and applications are due June 25, 2021, at 5pm, with decisions made by early November 2021. Online applications are accepted through MyOCF. Your organization will need to register and set up an account to apply.
Important! In an effort to expand access to more avenues of funding at OCF, organizations who choose not to submit a Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant application are invited to share their current needs with donors by completing this Organizational Profile Tool.
Organizations that apply for a Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant may have information about their proposal shared with OCF donors and funding partners. We encourage applicants to provide clear and complete project descriptions to support donor connections.
Please see the FAQ section at the bottom of this page.
For questions about the program and submitting a competitive application, please contact Melissa Freeman, Director of Strategic Projects, email@example.com.
For technical assistance in preparing and submitting the online application (application window opens May 18), please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
The deadline for this funding opportunity is June 25 at 5:00 p.m. Grant decisions on all applications will be made by the OCF board by early November 2021.
All nonprofit organizations based in or doing work in Oregon are eligible to apply.
No. Given that community conditions are in a state of significant transition, all grants will be one year in duration. This will ensure that OCF has maximum resources available to support changing needs as they emerge in future years.
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 submit an application. Applicants must submit formal paperwork confirming the fiscal sponsor relationship.
Apply for a grant by visiting OCF’s website and submitting an application through OCF’s online portal.
Register an account with the portal before applying. Before submitting a request, please read over important information on the program page, including the guidelines and the list of questions we ask in the application. Grants will be no more than $40,000, and average grant sizes will be around $25,000.
Unless they are an umbrella organization or a fiscal sponsor, an organization may only submit one application. An organization should only apply to the Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant Program or the Community Grant Program, Fall cycle, but not both.
Yes. Organizations who have received funding in 2020 are eligible to approach us with any new or evolving needs that align with our funding priorities.
An organization that is culturally specific meets the following criteria:
- The organization’s mission, activities and outreach all intentionally focus on a population that has 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 they serve;
- The population being served recognizes the organization as specific to their community; and
- The majority of members and/or clients are from the specified community, such as African, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latinx, Native American, immigrant and refugee, LGBTQI+, disability community, etc.
We define a rural-based organization as one 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.
We 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 needs with donors.