Working with the Weingart Foundation
At the Weingart Foundation, we strive to provide our applicants with clarity and transparency regarding our grant guidelines and the grantmaking process. The Foundation utilizes our website as the primary vehicle for communication in these areas.
The following information is intended to complement our grant guidelines and designed to provide applicants with a better understanding of the application assessment and review process.
How Our Grantmaking Works
Prospective applicants should review our grant guidelines thoroughly to see if your organization might be a fit for funding. Below is a brief summary of our overall approach.
WHO we fund: The Weingart Foundation seeks to achieve inclusion and opportunity for all Southern Californians, especially for those who have historically been at the greatest disadvantage due to their income level, race, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation, or zip code. Therefore, we support nonprofit organizations, collaboratives, and coalitions working to meet essential needs, expand opportunity and eliminate structural barriers to equity.
Priority is given to requests that address at least one of the following strategies:
Address a critical need for a historically marginalized population or community;
Build cross-sector coalitions, networks and/or movements to advance positive change and build public will for greater equity;
Promote youth and grassroots leadership development and civic engagement for individuals from under-resourced communities and those historically under-represented;
Engage in system or policy change aimed at addressing the root causes of inequity through community organizing and advocacy;
Promote local leadership and leaders of color;
Engage in multi-racial organizing and coalition building;
Implement strategies to improve community capacity and advance sustainable economic growth; and
Strengthen the capacity of smaller grassroots organizations located in low-income communities focused on advancing social and economic equity.
WHAT our funding is designed to do: Once we’ve determined that applicants are in alignment with our focus on advancing equity, we make grants designed to strengthen these organizations’ capacity and effectiveness. We believe that effective nonprofits and leaders rooted in the communities they serve are the best agents for lasting change, and should lead the way in fighting inequity. By strengthening the nonprofit infrastructure within the communities we aim to uplift, we can change the dynamics of inequity and expand opportunities for generations to come.
HOW our grantmaking works: Multi-year Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) is our primary vehicle for supporting and building the capacity and effectiveness of organizations, collaborative and coalitions that are working to achieve equity in our most under-resourced communities. We have learned that when multi-year unrestricted funding is provided to organizations with clear and reasonable capacity goals and strategies, leaders are able to make the important investments in organizational infrastructure that are critical to their ongoing effectiveness. The Foundation believes that unrestricted funding is also essential to providing nonprofit leaders with the flexibility and nimbleness needed to effectively manage and respond to a dynamic environment. We support the goals and priorities that the organization identifies will help build and strengthen its capacity to be more effective. UOS is completely unrestricted funding. In addition to UOS, we also provide limited funding for Program Related Investments, Capital support, and Special Opportunity Fund grants.
Throughout our grantmaking, we understand that every nonprofit operates in its own distinct context, and the even the strongest organizations have challenges. The Foundation recognizes that capacity needs may differ depending on where nonprofits are in their organizational lifecycle, as is therefore committed to supporting organizations at different budget sizes, levels of capacity, and infrastructure. In addtion, 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.
What to Expect When Working With Us
At the Weingart Foundation, we strive to provide excellent “customer service” to our nonprofit applicants and grantees. That means that our program staff are available to provide guidance and answer questions organizations might have about our grantmaking priorities, guidelines, and application processes. Although all of the Foundation’s program staff have prior experience working in the nonprofit sector, we all serve as generalists at the Foundation and believe nonprofit organizations understand best how to address the needs and opportunities facing the communities they serve.
Given the large volume of applications we review, we are typically unable to meet in person with organizations outside of the formal grant application process or attend nonprofit events. We are also unable to review drafts of letters of inquiry (LOIs) or applications before submission. Organizations with a question related to our process or guidelines should feel free to call or email us.
If, however, your organization has reviewed our guidelines and is comfortable applying without contacting us, please feel free to do so – we review each application on the strength of its fit with our Grant Guidelines, and there is no special advantage for agencies that have called first.
For information on how to apply, click here.
Letter of Inquiry
After submitting an online LOI, organizations can expect to hear back from us within approximately three to four weeks. During that time, the Foundation’s program staff may contact organizations for clarification or additional information regarding the LOI. If it is determined that the request meets the Foundation’s general guidelines and priorities, you will be provided with the instructions and forms required to prepare and submit a formal application.
Requests of $25,000 and under are reviewed through a streamlined application and review process that starts with the online LOI.
Please note that due to the high-demand for our grant dollars, LOI’s requesting $500,000 or more will be previewed with our Board of Directors before being invited to submit a full application.
The formal application will be screened for its completion and fit with Foundation guidelines. If the application is deemed a fit with the Foundation’s guidelines and priorities, the application will be assigned to a Weingart Foundation program officer who will conduct a site visit of the organization. The site visit, which typically takes under two hours, is an opportunity for the Foundation to learn more about the organization and the request, as well as for the applicant to learn more about the Weingart Foundation. The program officer will then prepare a written assessment of the application’s fit with Foundation guidelines and present it to our team of program staff as part of a peer review process. Ultimately, this information is shared with our Board of Directors for a final determination at one of five grantmaking Board meetings each year. Due to the high volume of requests, the entire process from LOI to Board meeting typically takes approximately six months. Grant requests of $25,000 and under are reviewed through a streamlined process that typically takes three to four months, starting with the online LOI.
After the Grant Has Been Awarded
Once a grant has been awarded, the grantee organization will receive a grant agreement for signature and specific information on report requirements and due dates. These reports are an important way for us to learn about the organization’s progress, as well as about any challenges. At a broader level, the reports also help us better understand and assess our funding and how we can strengthen our grantmaking to support the capacity and effectiveness of grantees. We do not require additional communication from grantees. At the same time, we welcome timely updates regarding major organizational changes or requests for grant modifications.
Learning & Assessment
The Foundation began implementation of our Learning and Assessment Framework at the start of FY 2016. The framework is designed to assess how the Foundation’s unrestricted grants contribute to strengthening our grantees’ organizational effectiveness. What we learn through this framework will be used to inform our practices as a grant maker and contribute to learnings for the field. As part of the framework, executive directors from grantee organizations will be asked to complete a Grantee Survey as part of their Grant Reporting requirements, described below.
For Unrestricted Operating Support grants over $25,000, executive directors from grantee organizations are asked to complete a Grantee Survey and engage in a close-out phone conversation with their Weingart Foundation program officer in lieu of a final report at the end of the grant period, which is typically two years. There are no interim reports required for Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) grants.
For Unrestricted Operating Support grants under $25,000, a brief final narrative report along with the agency’s most recent financial statements is required at the end of the one-year period.
When we decline LOIs or grant requests, we encourage applicants to call the Foundation for information regarding our decision. We strive to be as transparent as possible and can share where an application may simply be outside of our funding guidelines or where it can be strengthened for a more competitive request in the future.