Grant Guidelines

The Grant Process

The Americana Foundation supports partner organizations primarily through financial grants. Grants typically range between $10,000 and $25,000 and usually are awarded for a one-year period. In limited cases, we will consider larger or multi-year grants when necessary to the success of a project or program, and the grant directly aligns with the Foundation’s priority interest areas. Requests for general operating support are approved only in extraordinary circumstances.

Eligibility Criteria

Americana awards grants only to

  • Nonprofit organizations that have been recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code.
  • Nonprofit organizations under the fiscal sponsorship of an organization recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code.
  • Municipal government entities, such as cities, townships, and villages.

To be successful, a request for support must align with our mission and program areas. Before contacting us or submitting a concept letter, please review our program areas, current priorities, and eligibility criteria carefully.

We do not buy tickets or tables, contribute to capital projects or campaigns, advertise fund-raising events, or fund research or sabbaticals. We do not provide scholarships or other financial support directly to individuals. We generally do not sponsor conferences. Grants may not be used for political purposes.

Geographic Focus

Only nonprofit organizations doing work that impacts Michigan are eligible to apply for grants under our Agriculture and Food Systems and Natural Resources program areas. Nonprofit organizations from anywhere in the US are eligible to apply for grants under the American Heritage program area.

Step 1: Submit a Concept Letter

Although a concept letter is not required, we strongly encourage interested organizations to submit a concept letter to help us determine whether a project is aligned with our current priorities. The online concept letter requests the following information:

  • Basic information about your organization,
  • A brief description of the need for the project or program, how the project or program will fill the specified need, and the expected outcomes, and
  • The amount requested.

You can access the online concept letter at the button below. We review concepts on a rolling basis and typically respond within two weeks after submittal. We may contact you to schedule a phone call, virtual meeting, or site visit to learn about your organization or project idea.

Step 2: Apply for a Grant

When you are ready to apply for a grant, you can access our online application portal here. Applications must include a current IRS determination letter indicating the applicant’s tax-exempt status, an annual operating budget, most recent financial statements, and annual report (if available). Applications also must include a grant budget that details information about how funds would be used if a grant is awarded. You can review our preferred grant budget format in advance, either as a PDF or an Excel document.

To maximize the possibility that requests will be successful, we encourage applicants to contact us with any questions about the application form or the content of the request. Likewise, we may contact you after the application is submitted for clarification and context. We may request an in-person interview or site visit so we can get to know you better.

Step 3: Review and Decision

We accept concept letters and grant requests on a rolling basis. The Board makes grant decisions of Trustees at meetings that occur four times per year (generally in February, May, August, and November). To allow for mutual learning and discussion, we ask applicants to submit grant requests well in advance of Board meetings, as shown in the following schedule.

  • February meeting – requests must be received by January 8
  • May meeting – requests must be received by April 8
  • August meeting – requests must be received by July 8
  • November meeting – requests must be received by October 8

Please contact us if your request is time-sensitive or if you need an extension of these dates. We will notify applicants of the Board's grant decision. If your grant is approved, we will email you an award letter, grant agreement, and other documentation for review and signature." Once we receive signed documents, we can release the grant award via check or ACH distribution.

Step 4: Implementation and Reporting

We welcome check-ins and conversations with grantee partners at any time and enjoy receiving newsletters, emails, and other updates. At the end of a project, grantees are asked to report on outcomes, lessons learned, and future plans regarding an approved project or program. We also request a report on how the grant funds were used. Depending on the type of grant or length of the grant period, we may also ask grantees to submit a progress report at the mid-point. Reporting requirements are included in the grant agreement and are usually submitted using an online report form.

We understand that the circumstances of a project may change as work takes shape, so grantees should feel free to reach out to us at any time to request a grant modification or extension. We generally respond quickly to such requests.

A Note about Indirect Costs

The Americana Foundation aims to structure grants in a way that makes financial sense for the grantee, encourages grantees to deliver project outcomes efficiently, builds strong partnerships based on trust and transparency, and maximizes the impact of our grant funding.

With this aim in mind, Americana may award grants that include expenses directly attributable to project outcomes and outputs (direct costs) and a reasonable amount of the grantee’s administrative and general expenses (indirect costs). The Foundation typically limits the award of indirect costs to a maximum of 15% of direct costs, but the actual indirect cost rate applied in a grant award may be higher or lower depending on the type of project, the level of administrative effort required, the grantee’s organizational cost structure, overall grant size, and other factors. Grantees that seek to include indirect costs as part of a grant award must separate direct costs from indirect costs in the project budget. Americana generally does not provide general operating support, but exceptions may be made in extraordinary circumstances.

CONTACT US

If you have reviewed our mission, program areas, priorities, and guidelines and still have questions, feel free to contact us or schedule a 30-minute intro meeting with the Executive Director. We will be happy to address any inquiries you may have.

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