Apply for a Grant

Note: Please stay tuned to this page for updated information on our next open submission process, likely to occur in the second half of 2019. We will share on this page additional details, timing and guidelines about that process, which will likely encourage submissions for proposals for innovative approaches to bridge research and practice in the civic science field.

The Rita Allen Foundation currently makes grants for charitable purposes in two primary domains:
Within these domains, the Foundation identifies organizations for funding based on its goals and strategies. While the vast majority of our grant making is conducted through the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program and through the Foundation’s research and consultation with sector experts, we also provide an opportunity for nonprofit organizations to submit unsolicited Letters of Inquiry if they believe they are an excellent fit for our portfolio. This process allows us to open lines of communication with a diverse pool of organizations.

Scholars Program

The Foundation’s support for biomedical research is granted through the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program. Only invited institutions are eligible to submit a nomination for consideration for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program. See the FAQs about our Scholars program for more information.

If you are from an invited institution preparing an application for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program, please follow the instructions in the materials sent to your institution (not those on this page for other opportunities). If you have questions, please contact Nancy Kovacevich, Grants Administration.

Other Opportunities

Currently, the Foundation accepts Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) twice each year during limited review periods and invites a very small number of organizations submitting LOIs to submit full proposals for further consideration. We accept unsolicited Letters of Inquiry during limited open submission periods each year using the process below. Please watch this page for updates about our next open submission period.

Please read the information on our website about the Rita Allen Foundation’s programs, goals, approaches and Guiding Principles.

Additionally, please review our list of recent grants for examples of the Foundation’s current focus within each of its funding domains. The Foundation gives priority to organizations working on early-stage, innovative, collaborative projects within its grant-making domains. Often, these projects incorporate the use of technology.

The Foundation supports only United States-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations conducting work primarily in the United States. In general, it does not fund:

  • General operating support (except, in limited cases, for smaller startup organizations)
  • Civic education, including both K-12 and postsecondary civic education, either in or out of school
  • Building construction
  • Capital campaigns
  • Fundraising events
  • Endowments
  • Scholarships
  • Direct grants to individuals
  • For-profit organizations

In addition, the Foundation’s funds can be used only for purposes that are consistent with its status as a charitable organization. Excluded purposes include, but are not limited to, lobbying activities.


After reviewing the information above, if your organization or project falls within these guidelines, you may submit a Letter of Inquiry (of no more than two pages) in PDF format during one of two limited review periods each year. (Note: Please watch this space for updates about our next review period.)

Letters of Inquiry must be submitted through our online form, available here during review periods:

Letter of Inquiry Online Form

In order to ensure timely review and reply, Letters of Inquiry must be submitted through the online form by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on the final day of each review period. For a given project, only one Letter of Inquiry will be considered within a 12-month period.

Letters of inquiry that make a compelling case for early-stage support from the Rita Allen Foundation typically include some or all of the following elements:

  • Background: A very brief summary of relevant background on your organization, such as mission, leadership and history
  • What you are doing: A description of the work of the proposed program, including how it is early stage and innovative, and including any key partners with whom you will collaborate
  • What you want to achieve: A description of the impact you hope to have — how you anticipate your program will foster change
  • Why you are prepared to succeed: A description of why your organization/leadership has, or can access (through partnerships or otherwise), the outstanding skills, experience, capabilities and/or talent necessary to achieve these goals
  • What evidence you have so far: If applicable, any early evidence of success or potential for success
  • How you will fund the work: Beyond early-stage support from the Rita Allen Foundation, how you plan to secure funds for the work now and in the future
  • What you hope to learn: What you intend to learn and how you will share what you learn with others

We will review your Letter of Inquiry and respond via email within eight weeks following the end of each submission period. Unfortunately, we cannot respond to phone calls or emails requesting the status of a submitted Letter of Inquiry, nor are we able to give feedback on specific Letters of Inquiry.

Finally, please note that the number of requests for support far exceeds the Foundation’s available funding. We are mindful of the resources required to prepare a Letter of Inquiry and strongly encourage careful review of the restrictions outlined above before making a submission.