Guide to Grants
As one of Indiana’s largest community foundations, Legacy Foundation works for Lake County in multiple ways, playing multiple roles. For donors, the Foundation offers an effective way to manage giving by providing expert philanthropic advice rooted in a deep knowledge of our community and an array of philanthropic vehicles and services. For the community, the Foundation serves as a grantmaker, a civic leader, and awards grants to the region’s nonprofits to help meet community needs, fulfill donors’ philanthropic wishes, and strengthen the nonprofit sector. Using local knowledge, networks, influence, and creativity, the Foundation brings people together to improve the community’s quality of life now and in the future. Founded in 1992, the Foundation has total assets of nearly $52 million and has awarded over $30 million in grants and scholarships in Lake County.
Our Mission is to build a culture of philanthropy across generations that will positively transform Lake County. When making grants, we think about long-term and short term strategies; we understand the importance of immediate assistance to our neighbors; yet we know that lasting social impact requires decades of effort. And because our mission is broad and our resources are limited, we carefully target our support so it can be used most effectively and leverage the greatest amount of impact.
Click on a topic to learn more.
From its unrestricted assets and individual funds, the Legacy Foundation makes grants of over $1 million each year in the local community. Typically, grants are awarded through the Foundation’s competitive grant cycles. In addition, the Foundation Board of Directors may from time to time identify specific community projects or programs that may be funded from unrestricted funds.
In order to fulfill most effectively its philanthropic responsibilities within the limits of its resources, Legacy Foundation’s grant program will emphasize focused and effective types of grants. This grant policy applies only to those funds included in the Lake County Community Fund (Transform Lake County).
Competitive Grant Cycle Areas of Interest:
For grantmaking during Legacy Foundation’s competitive grant cycles, grant requests will be considered which fall into the following general categories:
- Arts and Culture – to support programs and facilities that are designed to establish a diversified cultural program that offers widespread opportunities for participation and appreciation.
- Community Development – to support programs related to community development, e.g. citizen involvement, leadership training, and general community programs and projects.
- Education – to support projects and supplementary educational programs for pre‐school, secondary and post‐secondary students. (See limitations regarding direct funding for schools under Grant Policies in this document.)
- Environment – to support environmental education and activities which help to enhance and maintain a healthy environment.
- Health – to support programs which have direct impact on the health of the community through education and treatment.
- Human Services – to support human service programs which assist residents with day‐to‐day needs such as shelters, food and transportation; and programs that assist residents in becoming more self-sufficient and improving their quality of life.
- Recreation – to provide opportunities in the community for leisure and family friendly activities.
- Youth Development – to support the healthy growth, development, and activities of young people.
Emergency Grant Process:
Prospective grantees are encouraged to apply for grants during the regular competitive grant cycles. Unsolicited grant requests made outside of these cycles will only be considered by the Foundation if it is determined that the request constitutes an “emergency” in the sole discretion of the Foundation. To be qualified for consideration, emergency grant requests must meet one of the following criteria:
- The request is time‐sensitive in nature and could not have been predicted or reasonably planned for during the regular grant cycles.
- The request is to support a true community emergency need or an emergency need of an agency, such as essential equipment repairs, that would prevent it from carrying out its primary mission.
The Board authorizes staff to make initial determination of eligibility for an emergency grant. If staff determines the request is qualified, they may make a recommendation concerning the awarding of the grant to the Board or Executive Committee, whichever is scheduled to meet closest to the requested date.
For grants made through any of these processes, the following policies will apply:
- Grants will be made only to organizations whose programs benefit the residents of Lake County.
- Grants from Legacy Foundation must meet legal and tax requirements and may be made only to 501(c)(3) non‐profit organizations and qualifying programs. Schools, religious organizations, some civic organizations and local government units may be exempt from this requirement. In specific situations and with advance approval the Foundation may, from time to time, issue a grant to a non-°©‐501(c)(3) public charity or exempt organization for which it must undertake expenditure responsibility in order to meet legal and tax requirements.
- Grantees are required to submit a grant application.
- Grantees must submit a final grant evaluation report in the manner required by the Foundation.
- The broad purpose of the Legacy Foundation (herein referred to as “the Foundation”) is to build a culture of philanthropy across generations that will positively transform Lake County.
- The Foundation will strive to maintain both a proactive focus and an ability to respond to creative ideas from grant seekers.
- Grant funding will encourage programs that enhance cooperation and collaboration among organizations within our community.
- Only one application per 501(c)(3) organization will be accepted per grant cycle. If an organization chooses to act as a fiscal sponsor for another organization applying for a grant, the fiscal sponsor may not also apply for a grant on its own behalf during the same grant cycle.
- Grantees that are unable to spend or encumber the entire amount awarded or complete a majority of the funded activity within the funded grant period are required to either refund any remaining balance with an explanation or submit a grant period extension request. Extensions must be requested before the current grant period ends. Failure to provide a timely extension request could result in forfeiture of all remaining funds, at the Foundation’s sole discretion. Timely filed extension requests shall be approved or denied in writing by the Foundation in its sole discretion. Upon the Foundation’s receipt of an extension request, grantees will be notified of our decision within 10-14 business days. If approved, all funds must be expended within the time period approved and a final report filed with the Foundation in writing. If denied, all remaining funds must be returned within 30 days of notification to the Foundation.
- In reviewing grant applications, the Foundation will give careful consideration to:
- The potential impact of the request and the number of people who will benefit;
- The innovative and experimental nature of the request;
- Local volunteer and other support for the project;
- The commitment of the requesting organization’s governing board;
- The degree to which the request works with or complements the work or programs of other community organizations in an attempt to eliminate duplication of services;
- The organization’s fiscal responsibility and management qualifications;
- The possibility of using the grant as seed money for matching funds from other sources;
- The ability of the organization to obtain any additional funding that may be needed to complete the project; and
- The organization’s ability to provide ongoing funding after the grant has expired.
- The Legacy Foundation does not typically fund:
- Annual appeals, endowment funds, membership contributions or fundraising events
- Existing obligations, loans or debt retirement
- Long-term operating support
- Multi-year grants or repeat funding for the same project or program
- Medical, scientific or academic research
- Schools, universities and private academies unless there is a significant opportunity for community use or collaboration
- Projects aimed at promoting a particular religion or construction projects of churches and other religious institutions
- Political campaigns, advocacy or direct lobbying efforts by 501(c)(3) organizations
- Services commonly regarded as the responsibility of governmental agencies, such as fire and police protection
- Travel for individuals, bands, sports teams, classes and similar groups
Grants are typically made for activity undertaken in one year. Grant recipients may apply in future years for funding but are not given priority or guaranteed additional funding. Legacy Foundation encourages organizations to diversify their funding sources and to seek gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations. You may only submit one application per type of grant per grant cycle. If awarded, organizations may be awarded one grant from each type of grant we offer in any 12 month period. Further, even if the twelve month period passes, you may not apply for the same type of grant if you have not submitted a final grant report from the last grant received.
- Example 1: If you receive a Transform Lake County grant, you cannot receive another Transform Lake County grant for up to 12 months after the first grant was submitted. In addition to waiting 12 months, you must also complete all conditions stated in your grant agreement such as scheduling a site visit and completing a grant report of your program activities and financial expenditures. However, if the organization is current and compliant with their grant activities, they may apply for an additional grant such as the Thriving Hobart Seniors grant.
- Example 2: You may not submit 2 different applications for Transform Lake County during the same grant cycle, but you may submit 1 application for TLC and 1 application for Thriving Hobart Seniors.
Please note: if your organization does not comply with grant guidelines, your organization may jeopardize the potential for future funding.
501(c)(3) grantees must be in compliance with all state and federal guidelines and adhere to best practices for non-profit organizations. As such, organizations must comply with the following prequalifying questions in order to be eligible to apply:
- Does the board of directors meet at least four times per year with a majority in attendance?
- Is the board of directors comprised of a minimum of 5 non-paid voting officers, including a President, Secretary, and Treasurer?
- Does the board of directors approve an annual organizational budget?
- Does the board of directors receive and review, at least quarterly, financial reports that detail approved budget to actual revenue/expenditures?
- Does the board treasurer (or someone not involved in transactions) review and sign off on monthly expenditures?
- Does the board have a conflict of interest policy?
- Is the organization in compliance with all requirements of the IRS and the Indiana Secretary of State?
- My organization can answer “Yes” to one of the following statements:
- We are a church or other house of worship
- We file a Form 990, 990 EZ, or a 990 N
- We file an audited financial statement
- We have been in existence less than two years and have not yet had to file
Application Review Process
- Staff reviews applications and provides preliminary recommendations
- Staff recommendations are presented to the Grant Committee for review and funding decisions (Transform Lake County and Thriving Hobart Seniors)
- Staff provides recommendations to the Knight Foundation for review and approval (Informed and Engaged Urban Communities)
- The Board of Directors reviews and votes on all final funding decisions
- Funding decisions are communicated to the applicants via e-mail
The following are reviewed to determine the strength of the request and/or the potential fit for the particular funding source.
- Capacity of Applicant Organization
- Impact of Proposed Project
- Investment of Funds
- Partnership and collaborations
Organizations that are declined can reapply for funding during the next grant cycle. We suggest that you speak with a Legacy Foundation employee before reapplying.
Personal solicitations to grants committee members or Legacy Foundation Board of Directors are strongly discouraged and may result in the disqualification of the application. All board members and grants committee members are required to declare any personal interest in any grant application. This declaration eliminates their participation in voting on the grant application and will be recorded in the minutes as an abstention. Grants committee members may not assist applicants in any way with the preparation or direction of their submissions.
The Legacy Foundation Board of Directors has the final authority and responsibility for approving all grant applications. Legacy Foundation staff, grants committee, or Board members are not authorized to release any information on the status of a grant application prior to final board approval.
To ensure the appropriate use of our grant funds and compliance with state and federal regulations, the foundation has procedures for making and monitoring all grants. These include the following:
Grant Review: All grant applications are reviewed by staff and the Grants Committee. Recommendations are then presented to the Board of Directors and they determine their actions based on majority vote.
Signed Agreement: Failure by a grantee to sign the Statement of Conditions (SOC) or comply with any provision of the content may result in forfeiture of the grant award. The signed SOC must be returned within 30 days of notification of award.
One or More Site Visits: Program staff will visit the grantee during the term of the grant. Site visits usually occur 6 months after the grant notification, however, the organization is encouraged to reach out to Legacy Foundation staff to schedule a site visit during the time project activities are occurring.
Financial and Narrative Reports: At the close of the grant term, grantees are required to submit a final report reviewed by program staff for compliance with the grant agreement. Final reports are due exactly 13 months from the date of the signed SOC (1 month after the close of the 12 month grant period). Any grantee with overdue reports will not be eligible for future grants until in compliance and may be prohibited from applying for any funding for the six month period beginning the day after the overdue report was submitted. Reports should be submitted online through our website.
The Legacy Foundation seeks to promote respect for all people. The Legacy Foundation will not knowingly support organizations whose programs or services are not open to all without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, ancestry, age, medical condition, disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law. We recognize that organizations may identify special needs in the community and target programs or services to a specific population based on those needs; however, the programs must be open to all people in those targeted populations to be eligible for grant consideration.
Each grant is assigned a grant number (see grant agreement). Please refer to this number in any grant-related correspondence.
Payment is provided once Legacy Foundation receives a signed grant agreement. Please allow three weeks following the submission of the signed grant agreement for the processing of your payment.
Some payments may be contingent on the attainment of certain goals rather than a specific date. If the payment is based on reaching a certain goal or other stipulations, proof of meeting those requirements must be submitted in writing to Legacy Foundation staff prior to payment processing.
Documentation of Matching Funds
The Board of Directors of the Legacy Foundation may impose a matching requirement so that you can use the Foundation’s grant as leverage for new gifts or increased gifts from donors. Therefore, matching funds must be new money raised and received specifically for the granted project during the time period outlined in your grant letter.
For all grants requiring a match, qualifying matching funds must consist of irrevocable contributions of cash or equivalents (i.e. stocks or bonds) or property.
Reporting Your Match
Your report indicating you have raised your required matching funds should consist of a letter restating your grant number and matching terms and indicating the total amount you are requesting from the Foundation. You should attach firm documentation of the matching funds such as copies of checks from donors or grant letters from foundations, government agencies and corporations. Gifts under $250 may be listed on a spreadsheet indicating the name of the donor, amount received during the matching period, nature of the contribution (cash, planned gift, in-kind) and date of gift.
Valuation of In-Kind Match
If your grant letter allows an in-kind match, please follow these accounting guidelines:
- Donated materials should be reported at their fair market value if you have an objective, measureable basis for assigning value. The donor will usually assign a value of the gift.
- Donated services should be reported if: they are a normal part of the project and would be otherwise performed by paid personnel (i.e. legal, accounting, investing, tax services); the grantee exercises control over the employment and the duties of the donor; and there is a measureable basis for assigning a value to the service being donated.
- The following cannot be claimed as in-kind services: Direct services designed to be provided by volunteers, periodic volunteer services for fund raising and time spent by board members and board committees in carrying out governance activities.
Legacy Foundation encourages procurement of professional services through competitive negotiation to ensure quality work and best pricing. Unless otherwise noted in your award announcement or grant agreement, all real estate, equipment and materials purchased with Foundation funds become the grantee’s permanent property. If the grantee nonprofit is legally dissolved, its assets should be transferred to another nonprofit with a similar mission, in accordance with IRS regulations. For further Indiana guidelines, please refer to http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title30/ar4/ch3.html#IC30-4-3-27.Modification
Modifications to the funded project’s intent, the grant period, and budget amounts must be approved by Legacy Foundation. Significant variations may require the Foundation Board’s approval. Approval of modifications should be requested in writing. Modifications under 10% of the total grant amount do not require Foundation approval.Record Keeping and Accounting
You are required to keep financial records with respect to a grant, along with any reports submitted to the Foundation, for at least two years following the termination of the grant.
Congratulations on receiving a Legacy Foundation grant! We are proud to support your efforts to positively transform Lake County. Legacy Foundation publicizes grants to media partners and through the Foundation’s print and online publications and social media sites. We encourage you to share the news of your grant. Here are a few tips to help publicize the support your organization received.
Mention Legacy Foundation’s grant support in your organization’s materials, including press releases, annual reports, newsletters, brochures, social media, etc. When doing so, please use the following language: Funding provided (or funded in part) by a grant from Legacy Foundation, Lake County’s community foundation.
Create a link on your website to Legacy Foundation. By including a link to our website (www.legacyfdn.org), you help increase traffic to both our sites. You can also include Legacy’s logo, available for download here, on your website, when appropriate.
Issue a news release to the media. Remember to tell your story through the people you help and the impact you have on your community. Adding photos to your stories and articles will help demonstrate your impact. Often, the media is more interested in hearing directly from a nonprofit organization and the people it benefits. Please feel free to use this Sample Grant Press Release. We welcome copies of publications or media coverage and will share this information when appropriate.
Include Legacy’s name and logo on signs or plaques that recognize donors at your events or in your facility. If you are interested in borrowing a banner for your event, please call us in advance to schedule a time for pick-up and drop-off at 219-736-1880.
Support Legacy Foundation’s marketing efforts through the following: submit stories of success and photos of your organization and/or work. We will publish these stories and photos on the Legacy Foundation blog Stories of Impact that is shared with over 2,000 email subscribers.
Share the news on social media. Find Legacy Foundation on Twitter @legacyfdn and on Facebook at facebook.com/legacyfdn. Tag us in social media posts about your grant-funded program. If you put something on your website or in an e-newsletter, send us the link and we will share it.
Share photography. Legacy Foundation is always looking for quality images that show the impact of programs supported by the Foundation. When submitting photos, send one or two high-resolution images that best show your work. Add a brief description that may be used in our print and electronic newsletters, annual report or donor engagement pieces. With advance notice Legacy Foundation’s President or Vice President can arrange to attend events and visit programs.
Promote when the grant is complete. Celebrate the success of your grant and thank your donors again. Did the grant help you serve more clients or provide new services? Did the grant help you leverage other funds or launch a pilot program? Show donors the grant helped you move the needle toward accomplishing your goals.
Sample Language about Legacy Foundation and its Funds
Transform Lake County or Sponsorship Grants – Funding is provided by Legacy Foundation’s Lake County Community Fund
Hobart Seniors – Funding is provided by Legacy Foundation’s Maria Reiner Senior Citizen Fund
Informed and Engaged Communities - Funding is provided by Legacy Foundation’s John S. and James L. Knight Fund
Legacy Foundation’s donors support Transform Lake County grants through the Lake County Community Fund (LCCF). Transform Lake County Grants are intended to strengthen and empower nonprofits, neighborhoods and residents in Lake County. Funding requests should further Legacy’s broad mission of positively transforming Lake County.
End of April
End of August
End of December
The proposed program should emphasize one or more of the Community Foundation’s grantmaking program areas, priorities, and values to:
- Create a sense of community through neighborhood outreach and involvement.
- Promote shared values, common interests, and collective action among groups.
- Strengthen the capacity of existing institutions to reach a broader segment of the community.
- Collaborate between two or more organizations or groups.
- Support neighborhood driven efforts.
- Provide an innovative response to a community need that does not unnecessarily duplicate other efforts.
- Provide opportunities to understand the value of diversity.
- Equip people to help themselves.
- Concentrate on prevention and education.
The Knight Foundation Fund at Legacy Foundation supports the success of our Informed and Engaged Urban Communities grant with a focus on Gary neighborhoods through investments that attract, retain and harness talent; that expand opportunity by increasing entrepreneurship and economic mobility; and that support civic infrastructure to accelerate the growth of ideas and bring people from diverse social and economic backgrounds together. Letters of inquiry are accepted on a rolling basis.
The Knight Foundation strategy and programs are based on three core beliefs:
- “We believe in freedom of expression and in the values expressed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
- “We believe an informed citizenry is essential for individuals and communities to make their own best choices and that journalism has a critical role to play in that democratic process.”
- “We believe in equitable, inclusive and participatory communities.”
The Knight Donor Advised Fund at Legacy Foundation is part of the Knight Foundation’s Community and National Initiatives (CNI) Program. CNI works to support informed and engaged communities by identifying and working with partners to help cities attract and nurture talent, enhance economic opportunity, and foster civic engagement.
Gary, Indiana is one of 26 cities nationwide funded by the Knight Foundation’s CNI Program. Of the 26 cities, 8 are funded directly by Knight and an additional 18 are funded through partnerships with the local community foundation. Legacy Foundation is grateful to be the community foundation that partners with the Knight Foundation to carry forward funding strategies in Gary.
Grant applications to Legacy Foundation for Knight Donor Advised Fund Grants must align with one of the 3 pillars listed below:
- Attract and nurture talent who can make a city more successful by supporting and networking diverse leaders from all sectors.
- Enable these leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs to drive social innovation and contribute to the common good.
- Support efforts to build equitable and inclusive pathways to economic opportunity.
- Support platforms and resources that help entrepreneurs thrive, grow, and succeed over time.
- Expand access to civic assets and shared public spaces that bring diverse groups of people together and reduce social and economic isolation.
- Support entrepreneurs as economic drivers.
- Support inclusive and participatory decision making in the community.
- Enable people to contribute to - and take an active part in – the life of their community.
- Create new pathways to engagement and make existing pathways stronger, more inclusive, and accessible.
In addition, Legacy Foundation will give priority to innovative and sustainable projects that fall within one of the following priority areas:
- Focus on Downtown/Emerson, Miller, and University Park neighborhoods of Gary
- Advancing implementation of already existing neighborhood and city planning efforts
- Urban agriculture
- Place-making through public art
- Activating public space
- Leadership development through civic engagement
Grants range from $2,000-$25,000 with a total of approximately $200,000-$300,000 granted on an annual basis The process is two step:
- Submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to Kelly Anoe at firstname.lastname@example.org. The LOI should include:
- Contact information
- Amount requested and total project budget
- Project start and end dates
- Project Title
- Project Description (400 words or less)
- Indicate how your project aligns with one or more of the listed Knight Foundation pillars and identified priority areas (250 words or less)
- If we’re interested in hearing more about your idea, we will contact your organization with additional, detailed questions to determine grantees.
The Thriving Hobart Seniors grant is supported by the Maria Reiner Senior Citizens Trust (MRSC) at Legacy Foundation. Thriving Hobart Seniors grants funding to organizations that provide support for senior citizens in Hobart, Indiana with in areas including for housing, health care, economic security, education, employment, transportation, companionship and recreation. Funding requests should provide seniors in Hobart with opportunities to increase their quality of life.
End of December
Legacy Foundation awards sponsorship grants of up to $2,000 to Lake County 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Sponsorship grants are for charitable events that are open to the public and held in Lake County, Indiana.
While Legacy Foundation does not put limitations on types of sponsorships supported, they must demonstrate a purpose and impact the community in a positive manner. Please note that Legacy Foundation does not support fundraisers.
Procedure for Soliciting Sponsorship Request
All sponsorship requests must be submitted via our online portal using the Sponsorship Application that can be found here.
Funding amounts of $2,000 or less for sponsored events and projects are considered on a case by case basis. Submission of a Sponsorship Grant Application does not guarantee funding. The maximum any organization can receive within any given 12 month period is $2,000.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage organizations to apply at least six weeks prior to their event to allow for application review and grant processing. Failure to do so may result in denial of funding. Applicants will be notified of sponsorship awards within three weeks of submitting their application.
Back to the Top