Apply for a Grant: Open Letter of Inquiry Process

The Foundation periodically hosts open Letters of Inquiry (LOI) processes to source and support innovative ideas around specific topic areas. We’ll be sending out more information later this year about our next LOI and invite you to join our mailing list via the form at the bottom of this page.

Through the Civic Science Fellows Program, innovative organizations across sectors are invited to apply for 2024 Civic Science Fellow host partner opportunities by September 1, 2023. Organizations that would like to host and engage with Fellows and partners among three broad, cross-disciplinary streams: diverse intelligences, changing ecosystems, and practice of science, please find more information at

Funding partners with this cohort include the Dana Foundation, The Kavli Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Morgridge Institute for Research, and others. All inquiries related to this opportunity should be directed to

Details regarding future opportunities will be available here as they are announced. Please continue to visit this page and follow us on LinkedIn for updates.


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.