Evaluation Criteria

We take the grant review process very seriously.  Each proposal that fits our priorities and meets our minimum requirements is carefully read, researched and evaluated against the following criteria.  Proposals fully meeting the criteria are compared to each other in order to determine how best to invest our limited resources. We can not fund all of the excellent proposals that fully meet our evaluation criteria.

Successful applicants will demonstrate: 

1. Fit with one or more of the Carolyn Foundation funding priorities.

For funding related to economically disadvantaged children and youth applicants must demonstrate:

What percentage of program participants are:

  • Middle School youth approximately ages 12-14.
  • Economically disadvantaged, eligibility for free or reduced lunch.
  • Live in the city of Minneapolis.

Demonstrate best practice program design/implementation:

  • Quality design & intentional programming to achieve articulated outcomes, appropriate supervision & structure
  • Active engaged youth with sufficient exposure (duration, intensity, breadth) to make a difference:
    • youth have access to and sustained participation in the program
    • youth have opportunities for choice, leadership, input into program design and collective action
  • Outstanding youth workers – culturally competent role models, promote student mastery, listen attentively & respond appropriately to individuals and provide effective group management
  • Partnerships with families, schools and other community organizations
  • Continuous Improvement – ongoing staff training, data collection and analysis and program development plans

***PLEASE READ CAREFULLY: While our middle school focus remains the same, we have added clarification to our evaluation criteria.***

Carolyn Foundation is committed to partnering with schools that are providing a good education to students most in need. We know that the benefits of additional programs and resources in these schools will be used wisely and support a high quality system of education. To this end we will give priority to middle schools closing the gap for low income students in Minneapolis. These schools can be found on page 15 of the Minneapolis School Finder (http://minneapolisschoolfinder.org/MSF_Schools_closing_the_gap.pdf). We will NOT fund programs in low performing schools unless it’s part of a recognized and respected overall school redesign/launch. Programs in mid-performing schools will be considered on an exception basis depending on available funds.

Because we believe in and support school autonomy and strong school leaders, all in-school program requests must include a letter of support from the school leader explaining how and why the program fits with the schools priorities.

In addition to our continuing emphasis on developmentally appropriate programs designed for middle schoolers, we also recognize the importance of culturally relevant programs, staff and organizations that empower young people to develop agency, independence, and empowerment. We prefer programs that explicitly demonstrate an equity, inclusion, and empowerment lens in their work.

See links on Minneapolis Grantmaking page for best practice research.

For funding related to community vitality, applicants must demonstrate the connection between their program and the vitality of the community in Minneapolis.  

Who participates in/attends your program(s) and how do they reflect the diversity of Minneapolis

  • Age, race, gender, ethnic background
  • Socio-economic background
  • Minneapolis residents
  • Diverse interests and experiences

How do your programs enhance vitality and quality of life in Minneapolis.  For example do they

  • bring together diverse communities.
  • make community resources more accessible and inviting to diverse audiences.
  • spotlight and share the arts, culture and heritage of community residents.
  • support and empower active community engagement.
  • other

2. A compelling community need and a credible plan to meet that need. Clearly explain the need/issue that you are addressing and provide best practice models &/or logic models that demonstrate why and how the chosen approach will work.

3. Qualified staff & organization leadership, provide information regard staff skills, experiences and prior success and provide a list of the applicant’s Board of Trustees.  Describe staff training and professional development process.

4. Systemic alignment within the community. Explain the relation to and distinction from other similar and/or cooperating agencies.

5.  Sound fiscal policies, management & financial health.  Provide required financial information including past, committed and anticipated sources of financial support.

6. Solid outcomes and evaluation processes.  Provide clear outcome measures and a detailed plan for evaluation of the results of the proposed project including performance measures.