Grant Criteria

Organizations must meet our basic and regional criteria to be eligible for a Service Grant. Please review these criteria before you apply. For questions, please contact your local office.

The next application deadline is September 2015. Check with your local office below for the exact deadline. The Taproot Foundation will notify all March-round nonprofit applicants of next steps via mail or email by the end of April.


To be eligible for a Service Grant, an organization must:

  • Be headquartered in one of our service areas:
    • CHICAGO — Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will counties
    • LOS ANGELES — Downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, South LA, Commerce/South Gate, East LA, San Fernando Valley, and Santa Monica/Venice Beach.  We have now expanded into Orange County! (check back in each grant round for expanded geographic coverage)
    • NEW YORK CITY Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island or Brooklyn
    • SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA — San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa or Marin counties
    • WASHINGTON, D.C. AREA — District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland; and Arlington and Fairfax counties and the City of Alexandria in Virginia
  • Be classified as a 501(c)(3), be under the fiscal sponsorship of a 501(c)(3), be a program of a 501(c)(3) -or- be a public school.
  • Have at least three full time employees and a budget over $350,000. (Most organizations must be at least this large to take advantage of a team of five professionals.) Three of our Leadership Development & Strategic HR grants are best for larger organizations (see the grant catalog for more information).
  • Work within one of our issue areas:
    • ARTS — Providing leadership or education in the art community, while making the arts more accessible to everyone.
    • EDUCATION — Strengthening our public education (pre-K and K-12) system or enhancing the educational success of students.
    • ENVIRONMENT — Preserving and restoring our environment or caring for animal welfare.
    • HEALTH — Improving people's physical or emotional health.
    • SOCIAL SERVICES — Providing social services to those who have been unable to participate fully in the social and economic life of the community. Services usually target children and families, employment and training, the elderly, immigrants, the disabled, housing and homelessness or foster and adoption services.

We do not provide services to:

  • Organizations that promote religious doctrine. (We may support agencies operated by religious organizations that serve secular needs.)
  • Organizations that lack written policies about discrimination or have a track record of discriminating on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity, disability, national origin, political affiliation or religious belief.


Los Angeles

Please visit our Los Angeles Nonprofit page for updates on Los Angeles deadlines, service area expansions, and other city updates.

San Francisco Bay Area

Please visit our Bay Area page for specific information. (Seriously, there are tons of great tips. You don't want to miss out.)


Taproot Foundation Chicago is now accepting applications for the December grant round. Applications are due by end-of-day December 3rd. To sign-up for a 20 minute consultation prior to submitting an application please contact Alexander George, Associate Program Manager, prior to submitting an application at or (312) 635-1122. Please contact the Chicago staff at if you would like more information about the Service Grant offerings in Chicago.

Grantees of the following foundations are especially encouraged to apply for the December 3rd deadline: UPS Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase. 

New York City

The New York office will not be accepting applications for the September 2015 grant round.  The next round will be in December. If you have any questions, please contact Alanya Green, Associate Program Manager, at or (212) 257-7655.


Washington D.C. Area

The DC Metro Area office will be accepting applications from all nonprofits that meet our basic eligibility requirements. Please check these requirements before completing an application to ensure your organization is a fit.

We regret that we will not offer a September 2015 grant round in the Washington, DC office.  Our next round will be in December. 

Should you have any questions before submitting your application, we invite you to contact our Program Manager to schedule a 20 minute consultation.


In addition to our basic and regional criteria, we also review an organization's readiness to take on a Service Grant:

  • INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTH AND STABILITY — We seek organizations with healthy finances, strong mission and programs, proven results and stable staff.
  • FITNESS FOR THE GRANT — Organizations need to demonstrate a clear need for the Service Grant and request support that is consistent with our defined scope for that particular Service Grant. Review the Service Grant Catalog pages to understand the scope for each grant.
  • READINESS FOR THE GRANT — Readiness includes sufficient board and staff time for the Service Grant, a good decision-making structure, and internal resources to execute the work.
  • STRATEGIC PLAN — For Key Messages and Brand Strategy, Naming & Visual Identity, Visual Identity & Brand Strategy, Performance Management, Board Recruitment, or Strategic Scorecard grants, organizations must have a strategic plan.


Taproot Foundation staff will use their discretion to award all Service Grants. All criteria are subject to changes or additions. If you have specific questions about whether your organization should apply in this round, please contact your local office:

San Francisco Bay AreaChristine Auwarter415-359-1423 x323
Los AngelesBari Goldsmith213-620-0173
ChicagoAlexander George312-635-1122
New YorkAlanya Green212-257-7655
Washington, D.C.Isioma Orewa202-223-1145 x100