Apply for a Grant: Open Letter of Inquiry Process

The Rita Allen Foundation accepts Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) that fit with our guidelines during specific review periods. We anticipate updating this page in early 2022 with announcements about potential open submission windows, after the Foundation completes a strategic review. Please check this page regularly.

While the majority of our grantmaking is conducted through the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Program, including the Rita Allen Foundation Award in Pain, and through the Foundation’s research and consultation with sector experts in areas related to civic science, communication and engagement, and effective philanthropy, our open LOI process welcomes a diverse pool of organizations. Organizations that submit LOIs through this process then may be invited to submit full proposals for further consideration.

During open submission periods, applicants may submit Letters of Inquiry using the process below.


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:

  • 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 the Foundation’s limited review periods.

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 review Letters 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.

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.