Frequently Asked Questions

Does Minneapolis really mean just Minneapolis? (What about metro area and surrounding communities?)
Yes, due to the current demand on our limited resources, we have narrowly focused our grantmaking in the city of Minneapolis excluding suburbs and St. Paul.  Exceptions are rare and would typically be either a one-of-a-kind organization that very uniquely serves the entire region or organizations that have offices outside the city but primarily serve the residents of Minneapolis.

Is there a list of recently funded grants?
Yes, please see our Grant Search tab for a list of our recent grants.

What do you look for in grant proposals?
A clear straight forward description of what you do and the difference it makes. Please briefly tell us your story and identify the local need you are addressing. Use most of your space to clearly describe what you actually do. What are your hours? How many people do you serve, how often do you serve them, what you and they actually do during that time? Who does the work, what are their qualifications, what is the nature of their relationships with those you serve? Then answer for us “So what?” What difference do make? How do you know you are making a difference? What are your best practice criteria?

On a middle school site visit we will look to observe the following:

Engaged Youth

Participation – youth vote with their feet, are they there is there a sense of connection
Passion – “Spark” and commitment
Voice & Choice and input in program activities
Collective Action & Shared Power working together on something important to the young people
Quality Design

Appropriate supervision & structure
Intentional programming – not just hanging out
Well-prepared staff
Partnerships with families, community organizations and schools
Youth Workers

Model positive behavior
Actively promote student mastery
Listen attentively
Frequently provide individual feedback/guidance
Effective Group Management: clear expectations for mature youth and respectful peer interaction

Better attitudes & behavior, higher aspirations & attendance rates, less disciplinary action
Better achievement tests, grades, on time promotion
Improved social and communication skills
Increased self confidence, esteem, efficacy
Development of initiative
Lower rates drug/alcohol/sex/crime
Improved health outcomes
Why have you set a preferred age group for children/youth funding?
We had more Minneapolis grant proposals than we could review fully. Excellent organizations have had low odds of being funded because we have had so many proposals in comparison to our available resources. Making matters worse, it has been hard to help prospective grant seekers assess the likelihood of funding or explain why we have funded one program over another because we had a huge range of different programs. By focusing our attention, we hope to reduce the number of proposals we receive and have a better basis of comparison.

Why are you focusing on middle school age programs?
Middle school is a developmentally critical stage in a young person’s life. Increasing independence, greater reliance on peers and the mix of available alternatives for spending time can have a profound influence on how a young person’s life will unfold. Yet this is often an under-supported age group, no longer “needing” day care, pushing parents and other caregivers away without access to the broader activities and support available in high school, often middle school youth are on their own making life-changing decisions. By focusing on this group, we hope to help fill a programmatic gap for young people and better prepare them for high school and beyond.

Our program targets children older and/or younger than middle school can we still apply?
No, please don’t it’s not a good use of your time.


The Grant Deadline falls on a holiday or weekend when do you need to receive the application? Applications are due no later than midnight the day after the weekend or holiday that is the deadline date. We encourage you to begin your application earlier than that so you have time to review your file before submitting it.

How many funding cycles does the Carolyn Foundation have each year?
There are two funding cycles per year beginning in February and August. A cycle consists of receipt of application prior to deadline, processing and review of proposals, Board of Trustees approval and award. This is approximately six months. The deadlines for our grant cycles are postmarked by February 1 and August 31. Grants are paid in June and January.

Do you make 3-year grants every three years?
No all of our responsive grants are one year grants. Our goal is to respond to current community needs with one-year grants. We do not intend to provide ongoing annual support for organizations. Our typical grant size is based on a one year funding commitment.

If my proposal was rejected last cycle may I apply again this cycle?
That depends on why your request was rejected. If you received a declination stating that your proposal fell outside of our current priorities, please do not apply again for the same program. You may have a different program request that does fit our priorities, and in that case you may apply in the next cycle. If the declination said we were constrained by limited resources, you may apply again. Each cycle is different and your proposal will be compared to a different set of proposals. However understand that the same foundation grant review committee reviews all the proposals submitted in a calendar year. If you have specific questions regarding your request, please, call Becky Erdahl, Executive Director, at 612-596-3279.

When will I know about your funding decision?
You will be notified as soon as a decision is made regarding your proposal; either at the time we decide to no longer consider your proposal or when we decide to make a grant. Typically the first declinations are sent six weeks after the application deadline. The foundation grant review committees work through grants in batches throughout the cycle with declinations communicated as decisions are made.

Do you want or accept letters of inquiries or meetings before an application is submitted?
No, letters of inquiry and in person meetings before submissions are NOT a part of our application process. If you have questions about the appropriateness of a project idea, we encourage you to call Becky Erdahl, Executive Director, at 612-596-3279 to discuss the proposal you are considering. If you submit a letter of inquiry or email, we will respond informally with a phone call or email.

Who decides on what grants are made?
The community grant review committee made up of family volunteers. Committee members are thoughtful, intelligent, dedicated and thorough in their review. Committee members are from across the country, not necessarily from the local communities. Explain your community and your proposal fully avoiding buzz words and jargon. The best proposals are those that simply and clearly explain the need and your proposed response to that need.

May we add the Carolyn Foundation to our mailing list?
Please DON’T. Especially in these tight economic times, it is not a good use of your time, money or natural resources. We simply don’t have time to read all of the paper that comes through our office. Please include your web address on your proposal so if we need additional information we can find it. If you are successful in receiving a grant, be sure to send us a grant report at the end of the year specifically outlining your use of foundation funds. Please do not add us to your mailing list.

I think I know someone connected with the family. Should I give the proposal to them? Will that increase my chances of funding?
No, this family prides itself on the professionalism of our grant review process. The grant review committees have clear responsibility to recommend grantmaking decisions based on the quality of the proposal submitted, grant review criteria, and current foundation focus areas. Ensuring the independence of the grant review committees is a foundation priority. If a family member is involved and knowledgeable about your program, you may mention that in the cover letter and we will seek their feedback as part of the review process. Please submit grant requests directly to the Carolyn Foundation through our online application process.

What is the typical size of grants?
Recently most community grants have been in the $10,000 – $25,000 range.

How much money do you have available?
In recent cycles we have granted approximately $300,000 in Minneapolis.

Does Carolyn Foundation have an indirect costs policy?
Yes, grant funds received from Carolyn Foundation used to pay indirect costs may not exceed 10% of the total grant amount.