Vision Grants

Applications are now closed

*There will be no LOI process for this round of Vision Grants.

Read about past Vision Grantees.

Please visit for information about other grant opportunities.

  • Purpose: To support interventions and initiatives that will address community challenges. The approaches should demonstrate boldness, innovation, and collaboration, and be moving beyond “business as usual” or the status quo. Applicants will be asked to articulate a future state for Delaware, and how the proposal will achieve that vision.
  • Stage of Execution: This grant round will focus on Planning efforts, and may support efforts to:
    • Build the capacity to innovate among organizations addressing social issues
    • Create collaborative networks and promote scaling and sustainability of innovative programming approaches
    • Design and test prototypes of promising, sustainable innovations

This Vision Grant opportunity is a fit for you if you and your partners have developed your idea and need support to create an implementation plan, complete with resource requirements, systems, legal, governance, and budget.

  • Vision Grants: Will support building and designing implementable, sustainable plans, typically by funding a consultant to help the organizations develop a full plan. Grants will range from $20,000 to $30,000. Grants will not be given this round to support implementation.
  • Funder Panels: Grantees will be invited to meet with a panel of funders (including the Vision Grant Council) to workshop their idea and gather feedback and input. The purpose of the panel is not to receive additional dollars in the immediate term; it is for the Vision grantee to gather feedback and begin building relationships for potential future funding.

The Strategic Response Fund Vision Grants Program seeks applications for innovative solutions to emerging and evolving needs arising from or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications submitted to the Strategic Response Vision Grants program should identify investable strategies to strengthen the participating organizations’ ability to serve the community.

Applications will be evaluated based upon specific criteria, which will be defined in a rubric. Successful applications will:

  • Be high-impact and outcomes-oriented, indicating how the client(s) or community will benefit.
  • Be collaborative, in which two or more organizations align, join forces, consolidate, and/or leverage strategic alliances to better fulfill their missions (for-profit, government and nonprofit entities are eligible in this initiative). The Strategic Response Fund is not likely to invest in proposals that only involve one organization (e.g., internal reorganization/repositioning) or any short-term activity (e.g., partnering to organize a conference).
  • Demonstrate how they will significantly improve measurable efficiency, quality, and effectiveness of systems/delivery models.
  • Present innovative, systems or sector-changing initiatives.
  • Define desired outcomes for the initiative.
  • Have approval of boards of each organization.
  • Have a lead organization with proven leadership, and a good governance plan that describes the organizations’ capacity to undertake the initiative.
  • Define a concept that has merit that can be developed into an executable program/project.
  • Define opportunities for sustained, long-term impact among partners and/or the community.
  • Define how the Strategic Response Fund can play a catalytic role in the process.
  • Where possible, be supported by evidence-based success stories and national best practices.
  • Define opportunities and potential for serving as a model for other nonprofits and funders.

  • An application must be submitted by a “Lead Organization” that will serve as the grantee for the initiative.
  • The Lead Organization must be a 501c3 public charity, religious organization or government agency. Private and/or for-profit entities and agencies of other statuses may be partners, but they cannot serve as the Lead Organization.
  • A Lead Organization must only submit one application in a given round.

Ineligible Use of Funds

The Vision Grants Program does not fund:

  • Ongoing staffing, programmatic, operational, or capital costs of the organization(s).
  • Program-level only collaboration that does not involve a fundamental shift in organizational service models. (e.g., a nonprofit that provides afterschool programming that works with a school is not likely to be awarded a Vision Grant).
  • Grants directly to individuals.
  • Political campaigns or lobbying activities.
  • Proposals that exclusively serve religious purposes, although religious organizations providing non-religious community services will be considered.
  • Capital expenses, unless they are key part of the transformative initiative.
  • Endowments.
  • Previously incurred expenses.

The Strategic Response Fund’s Vision Grants Program seeks to invest in innovative solutions across a variety of topic areas that address the emerging and evolving needs arising from or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the full impact of COVID-19 is yet to be seen, we know the challenges include high rates of unemployment, stresses on our healthcare system, a difficult small business environment, and diminished government and philanthropic dollars. Nonprofit and social sector organizations must rethink and reimagine how to be effective, equitable, and sustainable in providing services and programs. Communities will be best served if leaders respond to the challenges that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating innovative solutions such as, but not limited to organizational efficiencies, improved service delivery models and frameworks, robust partnerships and collaborations, and enhanced use of technology.

The goal of the Vision Grants Program is to improve service to Delaware communities by helping organizations:

  • Institute innovative approaches to address systemic issues that impact Delaware and that no one organization could solve independently. This could include for-profit/nonprofit joint ventures, public-private partnerships, coordination in a geographic area, and/or issue-area collaborations.
  • Reposition and/or integrate services across multiple agencies where current operating models no longer fit or can be improved, creating catalytic impact on the partners’ capacity, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and financial health.
  • Merge in cases in which two or more organizations can increase effectiveness, sustainability and better serve their constituencies by joining together than remaining separate.

Please email questions to Sarah Hench.


Q: Is there a different application for each stage of execution?
A: It will be the same application, no difference for each of the stage of execution.

Q: Does each submission need to achieve all three of these outcomes?  
A: No, the application is eligible if the proposal aims to achieve one outcome, but is not limited to one outcomes. The goal of the Vision Grants Program is to improve service to Delaware communities by helping organizations: (1) Institute innovative approaches to address systemic issues (2) Reposition and/or integrate services across multiple agencies where current operating models no longer fit or can be improved, creating catalytic impact on the partners’ capacity, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and financial health. (3) Merge in cases in which two or more organizations can increase effectiveness, sustainability and better serve their constituencies by joining together than remaining separate.

Q: How do we get help firming up our big idea? What if we have a big idea but need help figuring out if it will work?
A: : DANA is offering assistance and consulting for the projects. Request assistance.

Partnerships & Collaborations

Q: How formal does the partnerships and/or collaboration need to be?
A: The application requires an agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), that is signed by the Board of each of the partners.   DANA has information and resources on fostering collaboration and things to consider when collaborating.

Q: What if a partnership/collaboration has not yet aligned formally, will they be able to submit an LOI? 
A: Yes, an organization may submit an LOI and this would fall in the Discovery or Planning stage to help create the legal structure and formalize the partnership / collaboration, if needed.

Q: Does DANA help organizations formulate the plan before or after submitting the LOI? 
A: Before an LOI is submitted, DANA has an interest form for the support to gauge the level of assistance needed and the best options for each project.  If an LOI is submitted and is determined to be in the discovery or planning phase, the project may be directed to DANA to assist as needed.
Find more information on DANA’s assistance.

Q: Are multiple or dual collaboration essential? Can a nonprofit be considered for funding on its own?
A: An application that is a solo venture is not likely to be funded. The intent of the Vision Grants Program is to collaborate with others and achieve bold solutions that no one organization could solve independently.

Q: Would the Council expand or support an existing collaborative?
A: The collaborative will need to show how the initiative is shifting to better serve clients in light of COVID-19. Ineligible use of funds under the Vision Grants Program include “Ongoing staffing, programmatic, operational, or capital costs of the organization(s).”

Q: How should the collaboration be constructed? For example if the lead applicant is housing-focused and the collaboration also includes arts, health care, etc., does the overarching outcome need to be housing or some other single area with the partners playing a supporting role
A: The proposed initiative may be across sectors. Each proposal will be evaluated on what is best suited to achieve the outcomes and best serve the clients.

Q: If a “Big Idea” is at the Discovery Stage of execution, how does that idea move forward to the Planning and Implementation Stages? Automatically or new application needed? 
A: There should be ongoing conversations and updates as the initiatives progress. Once an initiative is ready to move forward to the next stage, an updated application will need to be submitted.

Timeline and Process

Q: Who is on the Vision Council? 
A: Vision Council is comprised of philanthropic and community leaders:
– Stuart Comstock-Gay, president & CEO, Delaware Community Foundation, chair
– H. Raye Jones Avery, retired CEO, Christina Cultural Arts Center
– Jeff Banning, Trinity Logistics
– Jennifer Cho, Barclays Bank
– There Du Pont, Longwood Foundation
– Chris Grundner, Welfare Foundation
– Daniel Okonkwo, JPMorgan Chase
– Karen Speakman, NCALL

The Community Needs Grant has a separate Council.

Do not contact members of the Council to discuss your application. Questions should be directed to [email protected].

Q: What is the timeline for future rounds?
A: LOI deadlines will be Aug. 21 and Oct. 16. Please see for the full schedule.

Q: How are LOIs chosen to be invited to the full application? 
A: The Council will determine which LOIs are chosen to submit a full application.

Q: Who is on the Funder Panel? 
A: Selected projects in the Implementation Stage of execution will be invited to present to the Funder Panel. Representatives of family foundations, corporate philanthropic entities, as well as governmental entities are invited to.  Approximately 20 entities are represented on the Funder Panel.

Q: How does the Funder Panel work? 
A:   In light of COVID-19, all presentations will be virtual. Panel members will have the application, the presentation slideshows, and all information before the presentation.  Applicants will give a presentation of approximately 15 minutes, followed by questions and answers. The Panel’s feedback and comments will be summarized and provided to the applicant.

Q: Is the $50,000 limit over six months for ALL Phases or could you potentially receive up to $50,000 for EACH phase of project from Discovery, Planning, to Implementation?
A: The potential financial investment from the Vision Grants Program will vary based on the proposals. The $50,000 maximum grant is for the Community Needs Grants Program, not the Vision Grants Program.

Q: Can an organization apply for this grant AND the Community Needs Grants Program
A: An organization can apply for each program.

Q: Can small organizations apply for the Vision Grants Program? 
A: Yes, the size of the organization does not matter.

Q: Can we connect with already funded projects? 
A: Yes, contact Philanthropy Delaware and/or DANA to be connected to one of the projects underway.

Q: And would that be a “sub-award” situation? Or would we submit another application to further support the program?
A: If there is much difference between the initiatives, a separate LOI may be submitted. However, collaboration is encouraged to address related social issues.

Q: Do the responses to COVID-19 need to be programs specifically in response to COVID-19?
A: The proposals must address emerging and evolving needs arising from or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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