Apply for a Grant: Open Letter of Inquiry Process

Rita Allen Foundation Letter of Inquiry Process Now Open for Submissions, March 30-April 22

For this submission period, the Foundation is seeking letters proposing innovative, early-stage work that advances civic science approaches and knowledge. Inquiries may address issues and challenges such as emerging science on contentious issues, inclusive public engagement to inform science, projects highlighting the role of intermediaries and new alliances, pilots that mitigate the influence of misinformation related to science in public decision-making, and evidence-based initiatives to advance more diverse, inclusive, and equitable engagement.

Ideas that seed or support early-career leaders or early-stage ideas; and proposals that incorporate working with underserved audiences and valuing diverse perspectives, bridging civic science research and practice gaps, and creating new partnerships and alliances are of particular interest.

We welcome two types of inquiries:
Seed grants ($5,000-$25,000), which will be awarded to seed early-stage civic science ideas, pilot projects, and partnerships developed with or by early-career leaders.
Connection grants ($25,000-$150,000 over two years), which will be awarded to support nonprofit organizations to develop civic science projects, build civic science alliances and networks, and foster beneficial knowledge and learning

The Foundation will review all LOI submissions and qualify those that meet the program and eligibility criteria.

The deadline for submitting an LOI is April 22, 2022 at 5:00pm PT. We will respond to all inquiries on or before May 27, 2022.


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

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. In addition, the Foundation may specify other priority factors during specific open submission periods.

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:

  • 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 an LOI (of no more than two pages) in PDF format during one of the Foundation’s limited review periods.

LOI’s 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
  • What funding is needed: In addition to a specific request for 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 review LOI’s 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 inquires.

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 an LOI and strongly encourage careful review of the restrictions outlined above before making a submission.

Click here to submit an LOI.