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Unrestricted Operating Support Grants

Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) is the Foundation’s primary vehicle for supporting and building the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofits, collaboratives and coalitions that are working to achieve equity in our most under-resourced communities.

The Foundation provides flexible, multi-year unrestricted support to carefully selected nonprofits that demonstrate an interest in and an ability to increase their organizational capacity and effectiveness in order to advance equity in our region. This includes nonprofits providing essential, quality services in the areas of health, education and human services, as well as those engaged in community organizing, advocacy, civic engagement and movement building.

Guidelines: Successful UOS applicants will meet the following criteria (in addition to the criteria outlined above under General Grant Focus):

  • Organization’s mission, goals, and programming are aimed at reducing disparities and barriers, increasing opportunity and/or meeting the essential needs of individuals and communities most impacted by historic inequities;
  • Has clear and promising strategies and the ability to demonstrate positive impact and progress toward desired goals;
  • Meaningful engagement with clients, constituents and individuals most impacted by inequities that inform the organization’s work and decision making; 
  • View the work of their organization as part of a larger ecosystem, engaging in meaningful collaboration and partnership to leverage resources and increase the impact of their work to meet shared community goals;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in their governance, staffing, organizational practices and collaborative relationships;
  • Evidence an ability to make progress in one or more of the following areas of organizational effectiveness:
    • Executive leadership
    • Financial operations and management
    • Fund development
    • Staff and infrastructure
    • Client/Constituent engagement
    • Diversity
    • Cultural competence
    • Organizational strategy and adaptability
  • Are able to describe how a UOS grant could have measurable impact on organizational and programmatic capacity and effectiveness.

The size of an Unrestricted Operating Support grant will generally range between $20,000 and $200,000 over one to two years (typically one year for grants under $25,000), depending on a number of factors including the budget size of the organization, and the specific needs and opportunities facing each applicant.

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 the existence or creation of a board-approved organizational policy on the use and maintenance of the reserve. When appropriate, the Foundation will consider adding a condition on the reserve portion of the grant requiring a one-to-one match from the agency’s board or a one-to-one match from other private sources, in order to encourage board engagement or additional private support. For more information about operating reserves, please see this toolkit created by the Nonprofit Operating Reserves Initiative Workshop.

PLEASE NOTE: Expanding Opportunity Fund (formerly the Small Grant Program)
In alignment with our focus on advancing equity, we have changed the Expanding Opportunity Fund (EOF) program strategy. The EOF had provided one-year grants of $25,000 and under to organizations with budgets of $1 million and under. Effective July 2017, the EOF will no longer be a separate program, but will instead be integrated into our Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) program. This change allows our Foundation additional flexibility and efficiency in supporting smaller organizations focused on advancing social and economic equity. Smaller, one-year grants of $25,000 or less will now be made out of our UOS program through a streamlined application process beginning with a UOS letter of inquiry for organizations with operating budgets under $1 million.

CLICK HERE to access the How to Apply page and begin a new UOS grant request.