Community Fund Grant Programs

The Community Fund is an unrestricted endowment held by the Heritage Fund.  Each year, through generous contributions from community members, this fund distributes approximately $500,000 to be used for grants and awards that will enhance the Bartholomew County community.

Heritage Fund seeks to fund catalytic projects and programs that will have a significant impact on at least one area of initiative (see below).  Favorable grant requests will include new and innovative projects, pilot programs, collaborative efforts, capacity building initiatives, and/or a creative solution that addresses a pressing need in the community.  Strong requests will have the capability of impacting a broad segment of the community and/or have a positive effect on the community as a whole.  Requests should include measurable outcomes as described in the grant application.

The Areas of Initiative provide the framework for the Community Fund Grants Program.  Heritage Fund will consider grant proposals which will positively impact one or more of the following areas:

  • Learning Systems
  • Welcoming Community
  • Economic Growth
  • Bridging the Economic Gap

*For additional information about the Areas of Initiative see the ABOUT US section.

We encourage all applicants interested in submitting a grant proposal within any of the four grant programs to contact the Community Grants & Outreach Manager to discuss the request prior to submission.

For additional information on each of the grant programs including guidelines, submission deadlines, and applications – please see below.




The Community Investment Program is designed to offer support for programs and initiatives that provide a strategic and innovative approach that will positively impact the community and deliver measurable results.

Additional Community Investment Grant Information



The Positive Change Grant Program is designed to support community programs and projects that strengthen and improve the quality of life in Bartholomew County. The grant program is designed to support programs and initiatives that offer solutions for positive change for our community and its residents.

Additional Positive Change Grant Information



The Targeted Grants Program provides an opportunity for not-for-profit organizations to apply for funding in a specific area of initiative or to address a soecified need in the community through a Request for Proposals (RFP).  There are no Targeted Grant opportunities available at this time.



The Opportunity Grants Program provides an opportunity for not-for-profit organizations to seek funding support for governance and effectiveness projects, staff training programs or urgent needs.




Organizations interested in submitting a grant request should make initial contact with the Heritage Fund’s Program Officer by phone or by letter of inquiry. If the grant request meets funding guidelines, the organization will be invited to submit a formal request.

The Grants Committee, which consists of Heritage Fund Board members and community advisors, meets quarterly to review grant applications. Grant requests receive final approval from the Board of Directors. The Heritage Fund is unable to fund every application received. Applicants are requested not to publicize their funding request until it has been approved. An organization can expect a decision regarding its application within 60-90 days of the grant application deadline. All grant applicants will be notified in writing of the Heritage Fund’s funding decision.

The Heritage Fund periodically will review each grant awarded and will require a final evaluation report from each grantee. Grantees are asked to enclose copies of news releases, program brochures, and/or publicity and photographs (when appropriate) with their reports.


The Heritage Fund is able to consider some grant requests of up to $3,000 as Discretionary Grants. If such an application meets all funding requirements it could be reviewed outside of the regular funding cycle. This possibility should be discussed with the Community Grants & Outreach Manager.


Applications should be sent to the Community Outreach and Grants Manager by 5:00 p.m. on the following dates:

  • June 1st
  • September 1st
  • December 1st

If a grant deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, applications are due at the end of the next working day. Additional items listed on the Grant

Application form should be mailed, e-mailed  or hand delivered to:

Commmunity Grants & Outreach Manager
Heritage Fund-The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County
538 Franklin Street
Columbus, IN 47201


The goal of the Heritage Fund’s grant program is to achieve the maximum impact with the available resources. The Heritage Fund will consider grant applications that:

  • Are change-orientated and problem-solving in nature. The Heritage Fund provides “seed” money or support for the pilot phase of a program. The Heritage Fund does not generally provide operating support.
  • Strive to anticipate the changing needs of the community and to be flexible in responding to them.
  • Address the needs of a significant number of community residents and provide the greatest benefit per dollar granted.
  • Encourage support from the community by using matching, challenge and other grant techniques.
  • Have a broad funding base, with additional support being sought from the government, foundations, associations and other funders.
  • Enable grant recipients to achieve certain objectives such as capacity building, and/or increasing efficiency, effectiveness and fundraising capabilities.
  • Request technical assistance or specialized help with projects that respond to community needs.
  • Positively impact the Heritage Fund’s Areas of Initiative.

Grants Are Made…

  • To not-for-profit organizations whose programs benefit the residents of Bartholomew County.
  • To qualifying organizations that provide a responsible fiscal agent.

Grants Are Not Made…

  • To individuals.
  • For events, performances, seminars or trips unless there are special circumstances which will benefit the community.
  • For individual school needs.
  • To faith based organizations unless the project in question is not religious in nature, is not restricted based on faith, and involves no faith based proselytizing.


How do I know if I would be eligible to apply for a grant from the Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County?

We make grants to tax-exempt agencies classified as 501 (c)(3) organizations, which are public charities as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. The Heritage Fund will consider only grant requests that serve residents of Bartholomew County. Not-for-profit organizations without a 501 (c)(3) classification may seek funding with the support of a fiscal agent.

Can I apply for a grant from the Heritage Fund if I have a personal need?

The Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County does not make grants or loans to individuals. As a community foundation we support the charitable needs of not-for-profit organizations in Bartholomew County.

How do I apply for a grant?

The first step is to call the Community Grants & Outreach Manager to discuss your proposed project. The Community Grants & Outreach Manager will determine whether your proposed project fits within the Heritage Fund’s funding guidelines and will discuss the application process with you.

How can I reach the Community Grants & Outreach Manager?

Call (812) 376-7772 and ask to speak with the Community Grants & Outreach Manger.

Can anyone at the Heritage Fund help me write a proposal?

No, the Foundation does not provide assistance with writing proposals. However the program officer may give advice or suggestions regarding information to include in your proposal.

What are the deadlines for submitting proposals?

Proposals are accepted quarterly with deadlines June 1, September 1 and December 1.

Is there a specific application form that must be used?

Yes. See above.  If you experience any problems contact the Community Grants & Outreach Manager.

What is the amount of the average grant?

There is a wide range in the size of grants awarded.  In an average year, most grant awards range from $1,000 – $20,000, grants are occasionally awarded for $40,000+.  Multi-year grants are considered.  Applicants should request the amount needed to successfully complete the proposed project.

Are grants funded over multiple years?

Grant requests are generally funded for one year. However multiple year grants may be awarded to support new programs.

How long does it take once a proposal is submitted to go through the approval process and to receive funding?

The time from submission to approval is 2-3 months. Once the grant is approved, it takes up to 14 days after returning the appropriate forms to receive a check. Release of the check is triggered by returning the signed grant agreement.

Can I get a grant from a donor advised fund?

Donors that have established donor advised funds make grants to not-for-profit organizations based on their own areas of interest. Donors make grant recommendations to the Heritage Fund Board for final approval. Donor advised funds do not accept requests.

Can you refer me to anyone else for funding?

If your proposal doesn’t fit the funding criteria for the Heritage Fund’s Unrestricted Fund, the program officer may be able to suggest other funding sources.

I recently received a grant from the Heritage Fund, how long do I need to wait before submitting another grant request?

The Heritage Fund generally awards only one grant to an organization per year. We recommend that not-for-profit organizations prioritize their funding needs.

What is an Opportunity Grant?

The Heritage Fund is able to consider some grant requests of up to $3,000 as Opportunity Grants.  Funds are limited for these types of grants.  If such an application meets all funding requirements it could be reviewed outside of the regular funding cycle. This possibility should be discussed with the Community Grants & Outreach Manager.