Application process

An important message to our nonprofit partners:

We understand the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting nonprofits in many ways. The Cleveland Foundation is here to support our partners across Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. In addition to funding available through the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, we continue to accept grant inquiries through our regular grantmaking process. Please note that we have temporarily adjusted some of our grantmaking practices and reporting requirements in response to the crisis. You can learn more here

1. Review our grantmaking guidelines:

The Cleveland Foundation is the community foundation serving Greater Cleveland, including Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. It is made up of more than 1,300 funds representing individuals, families, organizations and corporations. Its mission is to enhance the lives of all residents of Greater Cleveland, now and for generations to come, by working together with our donors to build community endowment, address needs through grantmaking, and provide leadership on key community issues. 

The Cleveland Foundation is a community trust. Community trusts are designed to serve the charitable and educational needs of tax-exempt organizations in a local community. As such, our scope of activities is limited to organizations that carry an IRS designation of 501(c)3 - Public Charity and government agencies.

Priority is given in the following areas:
  • Arts & Culture
  • Economic & Workforce Development
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health & Human Services
  • Leadership Development
  • Neighborhood Revitalization & Engagement
  • Youth & Social Services
We generally do not make grants to:
  • Individuals
  • For-profit/commercial organizations
  • Endowment campaigns, annual appeals or membership drives
  • Religious organizations for religious purposes
  • Travel for individuals or groups when travel is the proposal’s primary focus
  • Community services such as police and fire protection, road repair or snow removal
  • Staff positions for government agencies
  • Capital projects for hospitals, nursing homes or institutions of higher education
  • Publications, audiovisual projects or video productions. However, consideration may be given when they fall within a promising project.
Capital Requests

Capital requests, such as those for buildings, land or equipment, are supported when they meet certain stringent criteria. Capital projects must help to meet a compelling community need and offer a broad social benefit. When the foundation participates in a capital project, its support is contingent on funding from other sources. We generally do not authorize payment until the organization has raised a significant amount of its total goal.

Funding Levels

The foundation does not predetermine funding levels. Applicants should request the amount that meets the needs of the program and that is consistent with the organization’s capacity and other anticipated or received support.

Generally, grants are made for one to two years; although they may be longer, given program priorities. Unless specifically notified by the foundation, applicants may apply for continued support of a previously funded purpose or project. The foundation cannot fund projects already underway or projects that have already been completed. Please submit your request well in advance of your project’s start date.

2. Obtain a username and password by completing our online request form, which will require the following information:
  • Organization name
  • Organization address
  • EIN number
  • Name of organization’s executive director
  • Executive director’s email address
  • Authorized users (including name, title and email address for each)

Register for Access

3. Establish or update your organization profile:

Your organization profile must be completed before submitting a grant inquiry or full application. Your profile helps to showcase your organization before foundation staff. You may update your organization profile on our Grants Login platform.

Grants Login

4. Submit a grant inquiry:

The foundation requires all grant applicants to first submit an online grant inquiry, outlining basic information about the proposed project. Inquiries may be submitted at any time and will be reviewed on a rolling basis according to the calendar below. We recommend submitting one inquiry per proposed project. If it is determined that your project fits the foundation’s guidelines, you will be asked (within a few weeks) to submit a full application. Please note that an invitation to submit a full application does not guarantee funding at any level.


The deadlines below reference full application submission.

Under $200,000 (Monthly Decision)


Full Application

Decision Date*

Any time

15th of the month

End of the following month

*Applications that involve complex or new programs, or those that have significant unanswered questions, may require a longer review period.

Over $200,000 (Quarterly Decision)


Full Application

Decision Date

January 15

January 31

March 27

April 15

April 30

June 27

July 15

July 31

September 27

October 15

October 31

December 19

Grants Login

Affiliated Funds Application

The foundation has developed a separate application process for individual Affiliated Funds (supporting organizations). Applications will be reviewed biannually with standard deadlines of August 1 and March 1 of each year. The application will be a one-step process, meaning there will not be a separate inquiry submission. You will be notified of the grant award or decline after the board meeting for the fund to which you have applied. 

Contact Us

Our Grants Management staff is available to answer questions and guide you through the process. Click here to see a preview of the inquiry and application questions. Feel free to contact us at 216-615-7254 or