Grant Guidelines

Below please find the Weingart Foundation’s Grant Guidelines. We suggest you first read the Foundation’s FY 2017 Program Plan and Working with the Weingart Foundation before reviewing the Grant Guidelines. This will provide you with a greater context and understanding of our current strategic grantmaking priorities.

General Grant Focus

The Weingart Foundation believes in inclusion and opportunity for all Southern Californians, and especially for people and communities at greatest disadvantage. Therefore, all of our grantmaking is based on our commitment to advance social and economic equity. For the Weingart Foundation, equity means expanding opportunity by correcting the imbalances we see across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines in our education, health, human services, economic, and criminal justice systems.

The Foundation provides grants and other support designed to improve the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations working to provide greater access, resources, and opportunities in low-income communities in the areas of health, education and human services. We support organizations focused on communities facing the greatest barriers, particularly those due to income level, race, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation, or zip code.

Many organizations providing critical services in low-income communities are small and under-resourced. There is a need to build the capacity of these organizations in order to expand opportunity and strengthen civil society in the communities they serve. Therefore, the Foundation is committed to supporting organizations at all different levels of developing their capacity and infrastructure.

Funding is provided in the form of Unrestricted Operating Support, Capital, and Expanding Opportunity Fund (formerly the Small Grant Program) grants.

Note: At this time, the Weingart Foundation is currently not accepting new letters of inquiry for Capital funding (for more information, click here)

Successful Weingart Foundation grantees will have and/or demonstrate a commitment to achieving:

  • Strong leadership and management;
  • A qualified, engaged and supportive board of directors;
  • Effective financial management;
  • A funding model that supports the organization’s infrastructure and core programs, which includes an appropriate level of cash reserves to sustain the organization;
  • A well-trained and supported staff;
  • A process to solicit and utilize client/constituent feedback;
  • A board of directors and staff that reflect the diversity of people and key interests of the communities served;
  • Programs and services that are responsive to the cultural and linguistic needs of its clients/constituents;
  • An effective strategy to accomplish the organization’s mission that results in positive and desired outcomes;
  • The capacity to measure and communicate impact and learn from results; and
  • The ability to identify and adapt to internal and external changes.

Geographic Area of Grant Focus

The Weingart Foundation supports organizations providing services in the following six Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

In addition, we have identified the following communities as areas of designated focus: Southeast Los Angeles County; Watts and Willowbrook; and the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone. For more information, please click here.

Applicant Eligibility
An organization that is certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and is not a private foundation as defined in section 509(a) of that Code is eligible for consideration. The Foundation does not fund Section 509(a) (3) Type III non-functionally integrated supporting organizations.

Financial Documentation

      • Audited financial statements for the most recently completed fiscal year are required of all organizations in existence for more than five years and with operating income of $500,000 or more.
      • Organizations with annual income under $500,000 or agencies founded within the last five years must submit an independent review of their financial statements, completed by a Certified Public Accountant.
      • Applicants to the Expanding Opportunity Fund (formerly the Small Grant Program) that cannot meet the financial documentation requirements may be eligible for an exemption on a case-by-case basis upon review of the full application.

Board Governance. The role and function of each applicant’s governing board of directors is an important element of our review process. We also believe that it is important for boards to reflect the diversity and key interests of the communities they serve. Please click here for more information on the Weingart Foundation’s perspective on nonprofit board best practices and our assessment of board governance.

Types of Support
The Weingart Foundation offers the following types of grants:

Unrestricted Operating Support Grants

Our Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) grant program is the Foundation’s primary vehicle for supporting nonprofit organizations’ capacity and effectiveness.

Unrestricted Operating Support is unrestricted funding that enables an organization to carry out its mission by strengthening organizational capacity and effectiveness. It can be used to underwrite administrative infrastructure and/or to maintain core programs and essential staff.

        • The size of an Unrestricted Operating Support grant will generally range between $75,000 and $200,000 over two years, depending on a number of factors including the budget size of the organization, and the specific needs and opportunities facing each applicant.
        • Aligned with our commitment to equity, the Foundation may choose to make larger UOS grants to organizations that will bring new or expanded services in designated Geographic Areas of Focus and in other communities that are under-resourced.
        • In addition to meeting normal screening requirements, applicants for Unrestricted Operating Support funding will be evaluated against the following criteria:
          • Operate quality programs that provide greater access, resources and opportunities to low-income individuals and under-resourced communities;
          • Have developed specific and realistic short and long-term strategies for addressing identified organizational needs;
          • Demonstrate how a UOS grant could have a measurable impact on organizational and programmatic capacity and effectiveness;
          • As appropriate, provide the opportunity to build upon prior Weingart Foundation grants.


Operating Reserves: On a case-by-case basis and after consultation with the applicant organization, Foundation program officers may recommend restricting a portion of a UOS grant for the organization’s operating reserve. Operating reserve set-asides are typically recommended when an applicant is seeking to seed or build its reserve fund, and are usually conditional on a match in private fundraising and the existence of a board-approved organizational policy on the use and maintenance of the reserve. For more information about operating reserves, please see this toolkit created by the Nonprofit Operating Reserves Initiative Workshop

Capital Grants (Currently Closed)

Given the large volume of Capital requests currently being reviewed, we are not currently accepting new Capital letters of inquiry (LOIs). We expect to re-open our Capital program later in FY2017 for payout consideration in FY2018. The Capital program’s re-opening will be shared by email and posted on our website. For more information, click here.

When reopened, the Capital program will be better aligned with the Foundation’s commitment to equity by only considering grant requests that:

      • Will bring new or expanded services to under-resourced communities; and
      • Where project completion is unlikely without Weingart Foundation support.

Expanding Opportunity Fund (formerly the Small Grant Program)

Effective FY 2017, the Small Grant Program has been renamed the Expanding Opportunity Fund (EOF) and has new targeted approaches (explained below) to focus on supporting people and communities currently facing the most obstacles to opportunity.

All requests of $25,000 and under are considered through our Expanding Opportunity Fund (EOF). The primary purpose of the EOF is to increase access to funding and strengthen the capacity of small, community-based, and developing organizations, with strong priority given to organizations with operating budgets of $1 million or less.

The Expanding Opportunity Fund provides only Unrestricted Operating Support grants. All grants are for a 12 month period. The program is an avenue for smaller or newer organizations to introduce themselves to the Foundation, and allows us to expand the availability of our resources to nonprofits and geographic areas we might not otherwise reach. We believe that these grants provide important support for much-needed direct services, community organizing and advocacy for systems change, and infrastructure-building in low-income communities throughout Southern California. This work is in strong alignment with our commitment to advance social and economic equity.

As part of the Foundation’s desire to increase impact in specific areas related advancing to social and economic equity, the Expanding Opportunity Fund employs an issue-based approach. Nonprofits that focus their work on the activities identified under one or more of the following issue areas are eligible to apply for an EOF grant: Reentry, Immigrant Integration, Education, Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Youth, and Basic Needs.

For more information on the Expanding Opportunity Fund, please click here

Program Related Investments — Below Market Loans

The Foundation is in the process of developing a revolving Program Related Investment (PRI) Fund to augment grant distributions for select organizations and on a case-by-case basis. The goal of the PRI fund is to provide the capital needed to maintain or expand facilities and/or services to underserved individuals and communities. The fund will support a limited number of PRIs that will be restricted to loans with an interest rate that is lower than prevailing market rates for loans of similar duration, credit quality, and risk. The fund will provide the Foundation with the flexibility to extend the impact and scale of our normal grantmaking in designated Geographic Areas of Focus and other communities that are under-resourced. Organizations interested in a potential PRI should contact Angela Carr, Grants Management Associate, at

Grant Limitations
Grants are not made:

      • To organizations that discriminate against certain groups or individuals in the delivery of programs and services on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability;
      • For influencing legislation and/or elections; for political candidates, political campaigns;
      • For social or political issues outside the United States;
      • To individuals;
      • For temporary exhibits, travel, surveys, films or publishing activities;
      • For endowment funds;
      • For fundraising dinners or events;
      • For research;
      • For animal welfare.

Grants generally are not approved for:

    • National organizations that do not have local chapters operating in the Foundation’s geographic area of grant focus;
    • Religious programs, or consumer interest;
    • Feasibility studies.