Grant Making Priorities

Carolyn Foundation Believes:

  • Climate change is the critical environmental issue for our generation.
  • Immediate action is required.
  • Policy and economics will drive timely change.
  • Focus can amplify impact.


Carolyn Foundation’s environmental objective is to support groups working in the Upper Midwest states (ND, SD, MN, WI, IA) to mitigate climate change. We will make targeted investments in the five state area to bring about systemic change.

For example we will fund solutions oriented programs that: 

  • Mobilize Citizen/Community Action: programs that organize people to take a stand on an issue and bring about specific change. Measurements would include both the numbers of people and outcomes of efforts.
  • Policy Education: programs that inform and educate policy makers, and/or the general public about the implications of various policy decisions. Key measurement would relate to the impact of such education changing minds, firming up commitments and making positive change.
  • Administrative Action: working with public utility regulators and others charged with writing the rules and policies to implement legislative actions. Key issues will include timing, aggressiveness, enforcement, etc.
  • Sustainable Business/Community Solutions that build capacity, understanding and commitment to clean energy and citizen engagement.
  • Pilot Projects: Test projects of promising ideas that if successful would have broad replication opportunities across the region and beyond. We are looking for ideas that have not been tried and/or successfully implemented elsewhere, including beyond our region
  • Special consideration for model programs:

Carolyn Foundation is not generally interested in funding stand-alone implementation projects such as local renewable energy or energy efficiency programs. An exception may be made for unique projects addressing a specific issue for which a pilot project is needed. In this case you will need to demonstrate the need for the pilot; that the issue hasn’t been successfully addressed elsewhere; and a plan for sharing and replicating.

Because we understand how interconnected environmental systems are all environmental proposals must:

  • Address root causes and create sustainable solutions.
  • Demonstrate how the specific project links to climate change mitigation.
  • Collaborate effectively with others in the community: government, non-government, foundation and private parties.
  • Create a measurable outcome.

When it comes to choosing between excellent proposals that meet our criteria the committee is likely to decide based on a combination of factors including:

  • How compelling is the need?
  • What is the significance and likelihood of success?
  • What difference will a grant from Carolyn Foundation make?

Review our online application questions to see what types of information we will be reviewing to assess your fit with our priorities. There is an option to print the questions when you log into the online application form.