Community Grantmaking Priorities

Carolyn Foundation has been making grants to organizations serving youth in New Haven for the past fifty years. In 2020, based on feedback from the community, Carolyn Foundation began focusing narrowly on youth development programming for underrepresented youth ages 13-18, grades 7-12 in New Haven, CT. We have taken a two-pronged approach to both support: a core group of youth development partners who have distinguished themselves for serving our target population; and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-led organizations that have unique program offerings and relationships with BIPOC youth.

This approach was informed by a review of our past grantees and conversations with community leaders from the schools, city, community, and other foundations/funders.

Core Partner Funding Overview
We began this new approach with ten core partners. Our intent with these core partners is to support high-quality, role-model youth development organizations (criteria below), often serving large numbers of New Haven youth with broad and deep programs. Being funded as a Core Partner does not guarantee Carolyn funding forever. Core partners apply to receive general operating support and the opportunity for two additional years of rapid renewal grants based on their annual update reports. At the end of three years, core partners must go through a new full application process, and they may be competing with other core and newly invited applicants. Prior funding does not assure funding at the end of the three-year rapid renewal process.

BIPOC-led Youth Development Funding Overview
We started our BIPOC-led Youth Development funding category to support BIPOC-led organizations which are often underrepresented in foundation funding, make unique and valuable connections with young people, and may not be familiar with Carolyn Foundation. Most of the grant review team for this cycle are young people from the New Haven area who are aware of and familiar with community needs, organization reputations, etc.  Some of these organizations are small, meeting the unique needs of smaller groups of young people, while others are large organizations. Some successful applicants may be invited to apply to become a core partner. An invitation to apply does not assure funding, merely the opportunity to be considered.

We hope that these two categories come to provide both broad youth development support for many young people in New Haven and unique support for young people whose needs and desires are not met by larger organizations. A secondary hope is that this helps build the capacity of BIPOC-led nonprofit organizations that mirror their students and provide compelling role models.

Guidelines & Priorities
Our goal is to fund organizations providing high-quality youth development for underrepresented youth ages 13-18, grades 7-12, in New Haven, CT.

When evaluating proposals, we use research-based criteria, looking for organizations and programs that:

  • Provide high-quality youth development or leadership training as described on the Youth Engagement Continuum
  • Are “high dosage.” Programs meet often, for a significant time and extended duration. For example, a program that meets several times a week for two hours throughout the year will be rated more highly than a program that is one hour a week for six weeks.
  • Are long-lasting. Programs that work with young people over multiple years will be rated more highly than those that don’t.
  • Include meaningful, supportive relationships between young people and caring adults will be rated higher than those that don’t. Organizations with stable, well-trained youth development staff will be rated more highly than those with revolving volunteers.
  • Develop skills and spark interests or passions vs. merely provide safe places to hang out.
  • Have leadership and staff who reflect the students they serve. Students benefit from seeing leaders that look like them and share lived experiences.

BIPOC-led Youth Development Grant Cycle Guidelines & Priorities
In addition to the above-listed research-based criteria, we will prioritize youth development organizations that are BIPOC-led for the upcoming responsive grant cycle. We define BIPOC-led as either senior management or the majority of the board. In addition, organizations should:

  • Serve a large percentage (>70%) of BIPOC youth community members;
  • Have annual budgets of ~ $1 million or less; and
  • Operate programs in the City of New Haven, CT

Grant seekers can apply for one-year grants between $5,000 and $20,000. This is a competitive grant process. The grant application deadline is August 15, 2023. Grants will be paid in January 2024.

The grant application opened on June 15, 2023. Click here to preview the application form, and follow this link to apply.

(Updated July 10, 2023)