Does New Haven really mean just New Haven? (What about metro area and surrounding communities?)  Yes. Due to the current demand on our limited resources, we have narrowly focused our grant making in the city of New Haven excluding suburbs. The exceptions to that 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 New Haven.

What do you look for in grant proposals?  A clear straight forward description what you do and what difference it makes.   Please just tell us your story.  Briefly identify the local need you are addressing, make it clear.  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 does what you do make?  How do you know you are making a difference?

Do youth programs have to focus directly on young people?  Generally yes.  We look for youth outcomes.  So we may fund a parent education program but what we will want to know what difference does it make for the children and youth in their families.  We understand that poverty is a huge issue and there may be programs to address family issues, such as food, housing, employment etc. that may have a residual impact on young people but that is not our focus.


The Grant Deadline falls on a holiday or weekend when do you need to receive the application?  Applications are due no later than 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 five months. The deadlines for our grant cycles are email dates by February 1 and August 1.  Grants are paid in June and January.

If I’ve received a grant from the Carolyn Foundation, when can I apply again? What is the 36 month funding bar about? How does it impact the grant review process?  You may apply three years after your successful application was submitted. If you successfully applied in July of 2012 for a grant made in January 2013 you may apply again in July of 2015 for potential funding in January 2016. If you applied in January 2013 and received a grant in June 2013, you may apply again in January of 2016 for a potential grant in June of 2016. This restriction is based on organization not program. Given the three year funding bar, the foundation is often most interested in situations where our one-time funds can fill a unique niche without creating an ongoing funding need. We will also be very interested in how a program will be sustained after our funding is completed. This is particularly true if the request is to add new staff.

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.  Because of the breadth and depth of the proposals we receive in New Haven it is impossible to predict or advise grant seekers regarding the likelihood of funding.

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.  We post approved grants on our website the day after the board meetings in June and December.

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 email and other mailing lists?  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 and we do not participate in fundraising events. 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 email or other mailing lists.

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 application and we will seek their feedback as part of the review 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? How is it allocated between priorities?  In recent cycles we have made grants of approximately $170,000 in New Haven.

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.