Goal:  Innovation and Impact Grants are competitive awards to those Shiawassee-based nonprofits who are committed to the hard work of becoming a more efficient, effective, and sustainable organization. The intent is to help local organizations achieve a long-term, significant improvement goal.  This “stretch” effort requires identifying–and making–changes in governance, management, and operations, as well as seeking out collaboration with others. The goal of this program is stronger capacity for the nonprofit to meet its mission and have a measurable impact on the community.

Support: Staff from the Nonprofit Network will assist members of the NonProfit Capacity Building Program determine whether to apply for an Innovation and Impact Grant and help with the application.  Intensive support and technical assistance will be provided to those nonprofits selected and on-going coaching will be a part of the grant.

The Visioning Process:  Grantees will first conduct an internal assessment or a visioning session to determine organizational readiness and to identify any particular capacity-building needs or barriers to progress.  The Nonprofit Network will assist the nonprofit (and any partners) to identify ways to be more efficient, sustainable, and impactful in carrying out a mission. In some cases, this may require reimagining long-held beliefs and ways of functioning. This could take several weeks or months to complete.

The Stretch Process:  The second part of the program will be to implement the identified changes or to institute a new program or approach.  The Stretch process will not only help the organizations take the necessary steps forward, but also assist in “seeing around corners” and identifying and mitigating the issues that might prevent success.  Examples of this activity might include development of leadership, enhancing internal or partnership procedures, adding new technology, exploring new funding streams, re-assigning staff roles and responsibilities, or adding volunteer capacity.  This consulting, as well as on-going coaching, to support change is a major part of the grant. 

Funding:  the Cook Family Foundation will provide funds to help implement internal changes and/or initiate new programs.  Funds could be used for staffing, technology upgrades, facility improvements, professional services, public promotion, or other additions of capacity. The Foundation will expect some level of financial contribution or match from either outside grant sources, new fundraising, savings from combined programs (with a partner) or re-allocation of existing resources.  Assistance in identifying these funding sources will be part of the program.

Eligibility: open to any nonprofit who is a member in the Cook Family Foundation’s NonProfit Capacity Building Program; preference will be given to those agencies that have reached Partner status. Other nonprofits, including those located in Shiawassee County and others based outside the community, local governments, agencies, school districts, civic groups, and other associations can participate in the program in partnership with a lead nonprofit.

Application:  this will be a competitive grant process with up to four (4) nonprofits being chosen based on the following criteria:

  1. Potential for community improvement and impact
  2. Potential for organizational growth and sustainability of effort
  3. Proven organizational effectiveness and readiness  
  4. Partnership opportunity or participation in existing collaborations

Applications will be due April 3 at noon, with grant announcements made by the end of April. Depending on participation and resources available, another round of applicants may be sought later in the year.  Assistance is available from the Nonprofit Network to help develop grant applications.  Also, the following link: (click here for a Guide to Stronger Innovation & Impact Grant Applications),  will give you guidelines for completing a stronger application.  A copy of the application form is available from the Foundation office.