Guidelines & 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 community-led organizations where leadership and staff reflect the demographics and share lived experiences with the young people they serve and have unique program offerings and relationships with the youth they serve.

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.

Community-led Youth Development Funding Overview
We started our Community-led Youth Development funding category to support community-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 community-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.

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

  • Provide high-quality youth development or leadership training as described on the Youth Engagement Continuum.
  • 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.
  • Long-term programs where young people can begin in middle school and continue participating and remaining connected over multiple years.

Community-led Youth Development Grant Cycle Guidelines & Priorities
In addition to the above-listed research-based criteria, we will prioritize community-led youth development organizations with annual budgets of ~ $1 million or less.

Grantseekers 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, 2024. Grants will be paid in January 2025.

The grant application will open on June 15, 2024. Follow this link to apply.