Qualifying for Kresge Foundation Grants: A Guide for Applicants

November 29, 2023

As a nonprofit organization seeking funding for an innovative project, you likely have many options to consider. One compelling choice is to apply for a grant from The Kresge Foundation, a private foundation that funds nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions across the United States. However, to qualify for one of their competitive grants, you must meet specific eligibility criteria and follow an application process tailored to their funding priorities. This guide provides an overview of The Kresge Foundation, details their grant opportunities, outlines the qualifications and application process, and offers tips for crafting a compelling proposal to maximize your chances of securing funding from this prestigious foundation. With the right planning and preparation, you can position your organization to become one of the many beneficiaries of The Kresge Foundation’s generous grants.

Kresge Foundation Grants

Overview of the Kresge Foundation and Grant Programs

The Kresge Foundation is a private foundation that funds nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the United States and internationally. They award grants for projects focused on arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development. To qualify for funding, applicants must be recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and serve and support disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.

Overview of Grant Types

The Kresge Foundation offers three types of grants: operating support, project support, and planning grants. Operating support provides unrestricted funding for day-to-day functions and general operating expenses. Project support targets specific programs and initiatives. Planning grants assist organizations in developing a project concept and proposal.

To apply, submit a concept paper or proposal through the Kresge Foundation’s online grants management system that outlines key details including the amount requested, population served, measurable outcomes, and organizational capacity. The review process typically takes 3 to 6 months. If selected to advance, the organization will be invited to submit a full proposal for consideration. Awards range from $25,000 to $500,000 per year for up to 5 years.

The Kresge Foundation receives thousands of submissions annually, so take time to carefully craft a compelling concept that aligns with their funding priorities. Do your research, follow the guidelines explicitly, get feedback from others, and highlight your organization’s strengths and impact. With a well-written proposal focused on improving life outcomes for underserved groups, your nonprofit has a chance to receive vital support to expand its mission.

Eligibility Requirements for Kresge Foundation Grants

To be eligible for a Kresge Foundation grant, your organization must meet several requirements.

Tax-exempt status

Your organization must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as designated by the IRS. This means you are registered as a nonprofit organization. Public charities, private operating foundations, and private non-operating foundations may apply.

Mission alignment

Your organization’s mission and programs must align with the Kresge Foundation’s priorities in community development, environment, health, and arts & culture. The Foundation seeks to support organizations that improve the life circumstances and opportunities of poor and disadvantaged people.

Financial stability

Applicant organizations must demonstrate sound financial management and stability. The Kresge Foundation prefers organizations with diversified funding from multiple sources, including individual donations, corporate giving, and other grants.

Organizations should have at least 2 years of operating experience after receiving their 501(c)(3) determination letter.

Geographic focus

The Kresge Foundation prioritizes organizations located in and serving disadvantaged communities in American cities, especially the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. However, the Foundation considers requests from across the United States and internationally.

By meeting the eligibility criteria, your organization has a strong chance of obtaining a Kresge Foundation grant. Be prepared to provide details on your programs, impact, financials, and strategic plans in your application. With a compelling case for support and by following the application guidelines, your nonprofit can join the hundreds of organizations that receive Kresge funding each year.

How to Apply: Tips for Submitting a Successful Kresge Grant Proposal

To qualify for a Kresge Foundation grant, you must first ensure your organization and project align with their funding priorities. Kresge supports nonprofit organizations in six areas: arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development. They fund organizations that are working to improve opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Proposal Requirements

If your mission and work match Kresge’s funding areas, you are ready to submit a proposal. Their application process is through their online grants management portal. You will need to provide:

  • A brief organizational history and description of your current programs. Include details on the populations you serve and your impact.
  • A project description that outlines the issue you aim to address, who will benefit, and your solution. Explain how it aligns with Kresge’s funding priorities. Discuss goals, activities, timeline, and expected outcomes.
  • A budget for your request including a budget narrative to justify costs. Kresge does not typically fund an organization’s entire budget, so focus your request on a specific project or program.
  • Information on your organization’s financial health, including audited financial statements from the last two years. Kresge likes to see organizations with diverse revenue sources and at least 3 months of cash reserves.
  • Letters of support from community partners, beneficiaries, or others familiar with your work.

Helpful Hints

Some tips to keep in mind for your proposal:

Focus on outcomes over activities. Discuss the measurable impacts and benefits to the community.

Highlight partnerships or collaborations. Kresge values organizations that work with others to solve problems.

Follow all instructions and provide a complete, compelling proposal. Incomplete or disorganized submissions are rarely funded.

Apply at least 6-9 months before your project start date. The review process can take 3-6 months. Plan ahead!

With a well-written, thoughtful proposal highlighting your important work, you have a strong chance of qualifying for a Kresge Foundation grant. Best of luck!

READ ALSO: Qualifications and Application Tips for the Prestigious Andrew Mellon Foundation Grant


As you have seen, qualifying for funding from the prestigious Kresge Foundation is challenging but achievable for organizations focused on improving the human condition. With a rigorous application process and strict eligibility criteria, only the most dedicated nonprofits with compelling missions and innovative approaches will receive grants. However, for those able to make a persuasive case and demonstrate a track record of real impact, Kresge Foundation funding can be transformative. If you believe your nonprofit has what it takes to qualify and help the Foundation meet its goals, start preparing your application today. While the road ahead is long, the potential rewards of securing a Kresge grant make the effort worthwhile. Stay focused on your mission, build a strong application, and you could soon join the ranks of Kresge grantees shaping a better future for communities across the United States and around the world.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *