Leadership Grant Guidelines and Instructions

Leadership Grants are intended to advance the Community Foundation's Leadership Agenda and positively impact Greater Des Moines. The Community Foundation's Grantmaking Committee is committed to strengthening Greater Des Moines by proactively responding to emerging community needs, trends and opportunities. This grant program seeks to create "tidal waves" around community issues.

Grant Amount

There is no limit on the amount of funding organizations can request; however the range of grants is typically $25,000-$250,000.

Eligibility Requirements

Grants are made only to charitable organizations or causes with 501(c)(3) status, or to governmental agencies serving a charitable purpose.  Geographically, funding is limited to projects that will significantly improve the Greater Des Moines community. It is not the Community Foundation's practice to fund completed projects or proposals. We are focused on the equation of right project + right funder = right time. 

It is required that organizations speak with the Community Foundation's Chief Community Impact Officer, Angela Dethlefs-Trettin, before each Leadership Grant Letter of Intent cycle to discuss the proposal. Your Letter of Intent will not be considered for a Leadership Grant if you have not met with  Community Foundation staff prior to submission each cycle. 

Review the Letter of Intent Narrative Questions and Required Documents.

Grant Cycle Timeline

2016 Grant Cycle Timeline is:

  • Spring Cycle: Letter of Intent due on or before 4:00 p.m., Monday, April 4
  • Fall Cycle: Letter of Intent Due on or before 4:00 p.m., Monday, October 3

The Community Foundation will notify applicants on the status of their proposals within fifteen business days after it is received.  Proposals that advance in the process will receive further instructions at that time.

Leadership Grant applications WILL BE CONSIDERED for projects that

  • Advance the Community Foundation's Leadership Agenda
  • Expand existing, high performing programs.
  • Demonstrate significant community impact, are broad and wide-reaching in nature, and are inclusive of the entire Greater Des Moines community.
  • Include evidence of a strong statement of community need and broad-ranging community support and endorsement, demonstrated by a broad donor base and community buy-in.
  • Show evidence of long-term community planning for the project and an organizational strategic plan that has included the effort.
  • Include a well-developed plan for evaluating success.  Grant recipients may be asked to present project results to the Community Foundation Grantmaking Committee.
  • Have an achievable plan to sustain the program well beyond the grant period.
  • Recognize and celebrate our community's diversity and provide access for underserved populations.  Show planning for outreach and accessibility to underserved populations.
  • Demonstrate evidence of sufficient planning and organizational capacity to suggest a good opportunity for success.
  • Show strong probability for leveraged funding from other sources.
  • Include an opportunity for the Community Foundation to participate in a "signature" program or project within the scope of the entire project.

Funding will be most favorably considered for proposals that

  • Align with the Community Foundation's Leadership Agenda
  • Build social capital.
  • Are collaborative in nature.
  • Are sustainable to ensure community impact
  • Are positioned to leverage additional resources and support
  • Have not received a Leadership Grant in the prior year.
  • Have committed to meeting the Iowa Principles and Practices for Charitable Nonprofit Excellence identifed by the Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center.
  • Connect to community vision and or planning projects (ex.Capital Crossroads, Refugee Planning Alliance and OpportUNITY).

Specific examples of projects eligible for Leadership Grants include

  • New or enhanced programs and projects that will be the result of an expansion or building project.
  • Expansion of high performing, results-driven programs.
  • Seed funding for long-term community betterment project (i.e. annual festival).
  • Projects that will enhance recreational or community economic development.
  • Projects that address a critical issue and build community connections and partnerships.

The Community Foundation WILL NOT CONSIDER

  • Ongoing annual operating expenses or continued program funding.
  • Grants to individuals.
  • Sectarian religious programs promoting a particular faith.
  • Projects not serving residents of Greater Des Moines.
  • Proposals submitted by organizations that have not met with Community Foundation staff regarding the project during the current grant cycle.

For more information

Angela Dethlefs-Trettin

Chief Community Impact Officer


Phone (515) 244-0340