Guidelines & Priorities

Carolyn Foundation prioritizes organizations that meet the following criteria:

  • Budget: $1.5M or less (organization budget if requesting general operating funds; youth development program budget if requesting a program-specific funding and your organization budget is larger than $1.5M).
  • Focus: Youth development and leadership out-of-school (OST) programs serving middle-school through high-school-age youth (ages 11-18, grades 6-12).
    • At a minimum, programs must serve middle-school-age youth (ages 11-13, grades 6-8).
    • Carolyn Foundation does NOT fund individual youth services, such as case management, individual lessons, and tutoring for youth, etc.
  • Geography: Carolyn Foundation funds out-of-school-time (OST) programs in the following Minneapolis Communities and schools:
    • Community-based OST programs located in and/or serving youth in the following Minneapolis Communities: Camden, Near North, Phillips, Powderhorn; or in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood; or
    • School-based OST programs at the following schools: Ascension Catholic School, Friendship Academy of the Arts, Hennepin Middle School, Hiawatha College Prep, New City School, New Millennium Academy, Northeast College Prep, Prodeo Academy, Risen Christ Catholic School, St. Helena Catholic School, St. John Paul II Catholic School

Program Alignment: Programs that align with our funding criteria are programs that include the following researched-based best practices:

  • Culturally relevant programs where the leadership and staff reflect the young people they serve. Youth benefit from seeing leaders who look like them and share lived experiences.
  • Relationship-rich programs that develop deep, meaningful, and supportive relationships between young people and caring adults. Organizations with stable, well-trained staff will be rated more highly than those with revolving staff and volunteers.
  • “High Dosage” developmentally appropriate youth development programs: Programs that meet often, for a significant time, and for an extended duration will be rated more highly.
  • Youth voice and choice programs that empower young people to develop agency, independence, and empowerment. Carolyn Foundation does NOT fund adult-directed youth services, such as case management, individual lessons, and tutoring for youth.
  • Long-term programs where young people can begin in middle school and continue participating and remaining connected over multiple years.

Site Visits: As a general practice, we don’t fund youth programs without seeing the programs, with youth participants present, in action. The relationships and interactions between young people and adults are critical, and we’ve seen many positive and negative cases where what we read and hear differs from what we can experience during a site visit. We believe young people should have a voice, choice, and input into our funding decisions, and one way we incorporate that is through in-person site visits.