Innovations and Collaborations

Some of the best work being done by nonprofits across Vermont happens through collaboration and in a culture of learning, reflection, and excellence. Organizations involved with this kind of work strive for innovation and find new ways of working to develop common solutions to community needs. In our work throughout the state, Foundation staff members have time and again seen that collaborative nonprofits are among the most powerful agents of community change. Part of our Community Fund grants program, Innovations and Collaborations grants support the best projects working across issues, sectors, and/or regions.

This program funds projects that:

  • collaborate with other organizations across issues, sectors, or regions
  • create a learning culture that strives for constant improvement and innovation
  • work to understand and evaluate the impact of their work
  • look at and address the root causes of issues or problems in Vermont
  • engage their constituencies in ways that are new to their organizations
  • involve their constituents in direct decision-making and leadership roles

This program will not fund:

  • capital campaigns
  • debt reduction
  • expenses that have already been incurred
  • programs with religious purposes
  • indirect expenses beyond 10% of the cost of the project

Who May Apply

Applications will be considered from nonprofit organizations, schools, or municipal entities for projects that address the above purposes.

Grant applications will be accepted from organizations that are located in or serve the people of Vermont. Organizations must be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or be a public agency or municipality in the state of Vermont. Nonprofit organizations or community groups who do not have 501(c)(3) status may apply for grant awards if another tax-exempt organization acts as a fiscal sponsor. Applicants must employ staff and provide services without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Typically, applications will be accepted from one lead organization in association with one or more additional partner organizations. Under exceptional circumstances, organizations may apply without partner organizations; their proposal will be considered if it otherwise meets the criteria above.

Click here to view the Spring 2016 Innovations and Collaborations grants.

Note: Given the focus of our resources on Food and Farm issues in our Big Impact program, we are providing limited funding through our other grant programs towards local food sourcing to low income Vermonters.  If you have a project related to local food, food insecure populations, or Farm to School, please contact one of our grant staff to discuss its eligibility before applying.

Grant Size

The Community Foundation will award approximately one-third of this year’s discretionary resources to Innovations and Collaborations projects. Grants will likely be in the range of $10-$20,000. Multi-year funding is available but not guaranteed.


Watch the 14-minute section of a video from our winter Grantseeker Forum that gives an overview of this grant program. Information about Innovations and Collaborations begins around 34 minutes in. Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the powerpoint slides. Thanks to CCTV/Common Good Vermont for producing this video that summarizes the goals, eligibility, and indicators of success for this program.

Application Process

Because this grant program is highly competitive, we developed a two-stage application process using our Online Grants Manager. Applicants submit a short Letter of Interest (LOI) online that requires a 2,000 character (@300 word) summary. These are evaluated by our staff, and a limited number of organizations are invited to submit a full application (funding is not guaranteed).

Organizations may be part of applications as a partner organization for more than one project during a single grant round, or multiple projects within a calendar year, but may only receive funding as lead applicant once in a year.

Click here to preview the LOI guidelines.

All LOIs must be submitted electronically via the Online Grants Manager. Visit our Online Grants Center to learn more about how to use the Grants Manager, including accessing your existing account or registering for the first time. The electronic LOI form will be available approximately 6 weeks in advance of the deadline after logging in to your account. 

First Round Deadlines for 2016

Letter of Interest due 5:00 p.m. January 12, 2016. Full application due 5:00 p.m. February 19, 2016. Notification will be at end of May.

Second Round Deadlines for 2016

Letter of Interest due 5:00 p.m. May 25, 2016. Full application due 5:00 p.m. July 1, 2016. Notification will be at end of September.

Apply for a Grant