Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Grants for Art and Music Education

Posted by Lauren Albright on Thu, Sep 27, 2018 @ 12:09 PM

Grants for Art and Music Education
Arts Education
“Where words fail, music speaks.”
–Hans Christian Andersen

“A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind.”
-Eugene Ionesco

It is well established that art and music education help students develop and excel in many important physical, mental, and social learning aspects.
Yet these education programs are often the first on the chopping block when federal, state, and school organizations struggle with dwindling education budgets. For those schools and teachers struggling to maintain crucial art and music programs due to financial constraints, grants are one of many great resources for support.


The National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funds new and existing projects that promote the arts. NEA grants are available to non-profit organizations, state or local government agencies, school districts, and federally-recognized tribal communities or tribes; all applicant entities must have at least a three-year prior history of arts programming.

Two of the NEA’s four annual grants are currently open for the 2018 cycle: 

  • Art Works Grant: This grant funds projects that explore how art relates to and enriches various cultures and their beliefs and values. Award amounts are typically between $10,000 and $100,000, and grant awardees must cost share/match the award amount. This grant typically has two deadlines annually: one in late February and one in late July.
  • Challenge America Grant: This grant supports projects that make the arts more available to underprivileged individuals and areas. Award amounts are for up to $10,000, and grant awardees must cost share / match the award amount. The deadline for this grant usually in late April.

The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation

In the spirit of its namesake 1995 movie about the inspiring effects of high school music education programs, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation offers instrument grants to low-income or otherwise underprivileged schools. Grants are typically provided either to minimize or eliminate instrument sharing or to replace aging, ineffective instruments. Applications are by invitation only. Please review the Foundation’s website for more information on school eligibility requirements and to contact the Foundation for further information about becoming an invited grant applicant.

Lily Sarah Grace

This organization’s Stepping Stone Grant provides funding to K-5 educators who want to integrate the arts into their existing classroom curricula. All program proposals must follow Lily Sarah Grace’s distinctive “Arts-infused, inquiry-based learning” model (AIIBL), which focuses on five critical aspects or outcomes of art-integration in the classroom: community, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. All K-5, Title I schools / educators are eligible to apply for these small grants of up to $450.  The application deadline is typically at the end of April each year. For more information on the Stepping Stone Grant’s unique requirements, including the grant proposal rubric, please visit the website link above.

The Crewe Foundation

The Crew Foundation provides monetary support for initiatives that help underprivileged children identify and develop their artistic and musical talents. Only non-profit organizations in the state of Maine that have existing, devoted fine arts or music programs may apply. Applications are due December 31st of each year, decisions are made by April 30th of the following year, and funds are subsequently dispersed between June 30th and September 30th.


Need money, supplies, or other resources to help keep the arts and music alive in your school? The Grant Helpers can assist you in your grant search and application process.  Contact us today for a free consultation to get started.

Photo Credit: Pawel Loj


Topics: performing arts, grants for children, steam education grants, steam, grant, grant proposal, grants for youth, grants for at risk youth, music education grants, art grants, disadvantaged youth grants, disadvantaged youth, youth grants, at risk youth, arts, youth education, schol grants, grants for new music instruments, grants for music education, music grants, art instruction, grants for the arts, grants for art education, art education grant, funding sources, school grant, 501(c)(3), arts grants, art grant, educational grants

Grant Funding for Healthy Lifestyles in 2016

Posted by Mary Ross on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 @ 15:01 PM

Happy New Year from The Grant Helpers!


We know that each new year brings new possibilities; this is the time when people are setting resolutions and are ready to make life changes. Many people are resolving to lose weight, quit smoking, or eat better, and many organizations are resolved to promoting such active lifestyle changes. We at The Grant Helpers are resolved to help find the funding you need to support these resolutions! This two-part blog series will help you find the grants you are looking for.

Toward that end, here are a few foundations with the goal of getting people healthy.

The Saucony Run For Good Foundation encourages running with its App. For every mile logged with the App, Saucony donates one dollar to a cause aimed at keeping kids healthy and moving. Your organization could be one of Saucony’s causes. If your goal is to keep kids “healthy and active,” you can apply for a grant to help your program. Grants are awarded twice per year, once in February and once in August. Grant deadlines are Feb. 1 and Aug. 1, so there is still time for your program to be considered for the February award. Check out the grant guide on their website for information on who The Saucony Run For Good Foundation supports and to apply. Saucony has already donated over a million dollars; your program could be next.  


The Robert McCormick Foundation supports community health centers, school-based health centers, and programs dealing with obesity awareness, prevention, and treatment. Grants are awarded only to non-profits with 501(c)3 designations and application information can be found on the foundation’s website. Grant seekers should apply by state through the related charities and programs listed on the website.  To see if your program qualifies and to start the application process, follow our link to The Robert McCormick Foundations webpage.


Supporting nine different grants, Let’s Move is aimed at getting school kids active. Schools looking to improve their physical fitness programs can apply for grants based on the program that works best for their school. Most grants range from $1,000-$5,000 and are program-specific. Just by signing up on-line, your school has access to physical fitness resources and information. Take a look at the range of program grants available on the Let's Move website. For instance, the New Balance Foundation’s Billion Mile Race grant supports school-based walking and running programs. The deadline to apply for this grant is Feb. 5, so don’t walk, but run to the website to learn more about how you can apply. 


In the second part of this blog series we will look at grants that address smoking cessation and more healthful eating habits. Until then, we can help you find a lot more opportunities with our search experience and subscriptions to many grant database services. Contact Tammi at The Grant Helpers to see how we can find the grant you need and work with you to create an application that attracts those funds.

Topics: education, after school program, food grants, health grants, 501(c)(3), nonprofit, grants for gardens, hunger, poverty health grants, poverty, nutrition for kids, grants, kids meals

Applying for Nonprofit Status – a Brief Overview

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 @ 07:06 AM

If you are considering forming a nonprofit organization, there are several things to take into account before starting the process. You will need to understand how to structure your organization, what tax exemptions you may qualify for, how to approach various sources of funding, and much more. There is a wealth of information out there to help you achieve this knowledge, and this blog will give you an  overview of some of the main steps invopenlved. has the expertise needed to negotiate the steps toward becoming a nonprofit organization. We can do more than just find you grants. Our experts can assist you in negotiating the legal process to become a recognized nonprofit organization, including filing paperwork, creating bylaws, and obtaining any necessary licenses. Our services are completely customizable to your needs no matter where you are in the process.


Incorporating your nonprofit organization will help protect your personal assets, since otherwise you are personally responsible for the handling of donated money. Also, contributions are generally not tax-deductible without a 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. Becoming an incorporated nonprofit organization is similar to creating a regular corporation except for an additional level of specificity that the IRS and, in some states, additional governmental agencies require. 

To qualify for a 501(c)(3) status, organizations must be created for one or more of the following purposes: charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, or preventing cruelty to children or animals. In order to be eligible for the 501(c)(3) status, none of an organization’s earnings must benefit an individual or private shareholder. Salaries and contracts necessary to conduct the work of the organization are certainly allowable expenses, however. The organization also may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities or participate in any campaign activity for or against a political candidate.

Once you have determined that your organization meets the requirements to become tax-exempt, you can submit an application online.

Below is a list of the basic steps required to incorporate your nonprofit, assuming you decide to incorporate as a 501(c)(3):

  • Choose a business name. Naming laws vary by state and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website can be of assistance with regulations by state.

  • File your incorporation paperwork, which requires basic information about your organization. The IRS requires specific language in your state paperwork regarding non-profit activities and dissolution. A fee to your state may also be required. Again, the paperwork varies by state, and the SBA can direct you to your state’s office.

  • Once your paperwork has been approved and your organization is officially incorporated, apply for your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS. Be advised that a fee to the IRS, usually $850, is required. The tax-exempt process can also be very extensive, and an IRS backlog of applications only adds to the lengthy time frame.

  • At this point, you may also need to obtain additionally licenses and permits. These needs vary by state.

This can be a rather involved process, and our experts can assist you throughout the entire procedure. Unfortunately, the IRS is backlogged in approving tax-exempt applications. According to the IRS website, the average date of pending applications is August 2013.  If you have submitted your application after August 2013, check this web page ( for updated information on the average date of assigned applications. Updates will be made on the first Thursday of each month.

Given the timeframe with the IRS, you will likely want to start raising funds before you are officially designated a nonprofit by the IRS. You might want to consider a fiscal sponsor that can receive contributions for you. A fiscal sponsor is simply another nonprofit, such as a local community foundation, that is willing to handle your donations for you. We can assist you in determining the best way to start raising funds as soon as possible.

You may hear about a new structure in some states, theLow-Profit Limited Liability (L3C) Company. This hybrid structure allows a company to earn a small profit but still receive tax-deductible contributions, and may have advantages in some cases. However, this is only available in a few states, and most foundations are unfamiliar with it. Therefore, many are reluctant to grant or lend to these L3Cs.

We offer a full range of services to help nonprofits succeed, everything from creation of the organization to grant acquisition. See a complete list of our services here. Remember, the first consultation is always free.

Topics: nonprofit grants, 501(c)(3), nonprofit funding, nonprofit, nonprofit resource, nonprofit resources, incorporation

Philanthropy and Grant Outlook for 2014

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 @ 16:12 PM

It’s that time of year again. A time for resolutions and a look back at the year that was. The world of grant-making is no exception. It’s important to look at the past year to see what new processes and tools developed, how these advances have been used, and how they will shape the future. GrantCraft, a project of the Foundation Center, recently released Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2014 by Lucy Bernholz. Bernholz has been working in, moneywriting about, and consulting about the philanthropy world since 1990. This is the fifth annual industry forecast she has penned.

In the 32-page document, Bernholz takes a look back at the ever-changing world of grant-making foundations, the highlights of 2013, and what to expect in 2014. When the document was created, there were 1.1 million public charities worth $2.7 trillion in the U.S. Additionally, there were 81,777 public foundations that had expenditures totaling $49 million.

“New foundations and associations, and new types of enterprises all together, are being created as a result of shifting national policies and changing economic fortunes,” says Bernholz.

A Big Shift

As Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn become household words, the grant-making economy is also seeing a change toward data-driven, technology-led practices, according to the Blueprint.

At the most basic level, foundations and associations are using social media outlets to enhance their work. E-mail and tweets are being used to replace or amplify direct-mail efforts, according to the report. The majority of grant applications are also now found online, downloaded, and submitted almost entirely using the Internet.

Additionally, mobile technologies that have changed the entire world have also influenced more interventions in global health concerns, clean water initiatives, and disaster response--spurring more grant seekers and grant givers in these realms. Data collection and sharing have also affected these “impact investments,” since the creation of shared metrics and digital databases has made collaboration and coordination far easier.

Technology has also influenced methods and mechanics. Nonprofits are also using social media to generate awareness, and they are introducing electronic contributions such as PayPal and “donate now” buttons to their websites. The upside of digital media, according to the document, is a success story in “the way nonprofits and foundations use social media and digital videos to tell their stories, build movements, and raise awareness.”

There could be a downside to this technology movement, according to the Blueprint. The document asks how the private materials, decisions, networks, and associations that make up these independent organizations remain protected and private as they shift toward data collection and technology-driven practices. Bernholz states that organizations need to give high consideration to their own practices in digital privacy.

Buzzwords in 2013

Bernholz lists the top buzzwords that were prevalent in philanthropy circles in 2013. “Privacy” gets her vote for top buzzword of the year, mostly for all the reasons stated above.

“Performance management,” measuring outcomes, especially outcomes from programs and projects funded by grants, makes the list. In 2013, Bernholz contends that organizations of all sizes were working diligently on fine tuning and improving, and in some cases, creating, tools to measure performance.

Philanthropic organizations want to hear back from their beneficiaries, which is why “constituent feedback” makes the list of top buzzwords of the year. According to Bernholz, receiving this feedback is more cost effective than ever with the use of social media, websites, and email. She says to expect more projects in 2014 like GlobalGiving Storytelling and YouthTruth.

Rounding out the list of trendy words are: “peer-to-peer services” (resource-saving, sharing mentality); “makers” (the creators of old-fashioned handmade goods, with museums and libraries often seeking grants to host maker workshops, programs); “bitcoin” (digital, nationless currency popular with some nonprofits); “commons” (resources are held in common creating new approaches to developments); “metadata” (data about data); “randomista” (a derogatory term for an evaluator or social scientist who believes the only meaningful evidence is that which comes from random control trials; “solutionism” (digital innovators who believe they can solve every community problem with an app).

What to Expect in 2014

Bernholz makes some pretty bold statements in regards to the outlook for philanthropy organizations in 2014. The boldest could be the declaration that at least one major nonprofit/foundation organization will close its doors in the new year.

In the data and technology sector, Bernholz believes there will be a whole new group of service providers and consulting firms to help associations and foundations manage crowdfunding campaigns. She also states that new mobile money tools that make phone-to-phone and peer-to-peer payments easier will make “informal networks of people even more visible, viable, and important.” Also, video will be the next infographic.

Her other predictions for 2014 include the development of a nonprofit standard for privacy as well as the launch by U.S. foundations of several new initiatives rooted in concerns about the state of the American democracy. Also, Bernholz believes nonprofit organizations will begin to take over some vital city functions such as transportation infrastructure, thus becoming a major aid for cash-strapped cities.

Another prediction could be a good sign for those nonprofits waiting for 501(c)(3) approval from the IRS, which currently could take months. Bernholz believes this approval will be moved out of the hands of the IRS and into those of a new regulatory authority to be created.


Whether you are just beginning your journey into the grant world, or are well established in the realm, navigating new technology, ideas, and standards can be difficult. can help you develop and use new tools and technologies to make your grant search more rewarding. We can also help you with your 501(c)(3) application as well as help you create and manage tools to measure program performance. See a list of all of our services here.


Photo Credit: Tax Credits

Topics: grant trend, funding trend, 501(c)(3), Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 201, foundations, foundation grant money, federal spending

A Great Resource for Nonprofits:

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 @ 13:10 PM

Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) designations have access to funding from a wide array of private foundations. Did you know that in addition to funding, nonprofits are also offered discounted resources? One such opportunity is, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that started in 1987.

Who is Nonprofit

According to its website, TechSoup’s focus is “connecting your nonprofit, charity, or public library with technology products and solutions, plus the learning resources you need to make informed decisions about technology.” is a project of TechSoup Global, which is 53-partner non-governmental organization that spans the globe, working with countries in Africa, the Americas, Asian Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. You can learn more about and TechSoup Global by clicking here.

What does do?

Nonprofits and libraries can receive discounts on products and services, which includes software from some of TechSoup’s partners, including MicroSoft. also provides free resources, including articles, blogs, expertly-led forums, webinars, and more.

Joining is relatively simple. First, you must sign up to become a member, and once you have done this, you can select the donation programs for which you are eligible. Finally, register your organization in the TechSoup database, and from there, you are ready to request donations. For complete information on how to sign up for TechSoup, please click here to visit their website.

Current Highlights

At time of this blog’s publication, was featuring two headlines worth mentioning.

1)     Religious Organizations with a 501(c)(3) status can receive over 250 Microsoft products as donations, including Microsoft 365 for Nonprofits.

2)     Citrix ShareFile, new to, is being offered at 50% off for up to 10 users. Citrix ShareFile offers secure, encrypted cloud storage.

Again, is here to help you reach your goals. We have a wide variety of services, many of which are low-cost and easy-entry so that you can get to know us better. As always, please feel free to contact one of our Grant Helpers if you have any questions or would like to set up a free consultation.


Image credit: TechSoup for Libraries

Topics: nonprofit grants, 501(c)(3), matching funds, technology grant, nonprofit funding, in-kind donations, teacher resources, technology resource, technology resources, nonprofit resource, nonprofit resources

The Importance of Being a 501(c)(3) Organization

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Sep 26, 2013 @ 15:09 PM

Many foundations provide grants only to 501(c)(3) organizations.  Therefore, obtaining 501(c)(3) status is often the first step inapplying for grant funds. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding 501(c)(3) status and what it means for your organization. The Grant Helpers can assist you in applying for this status, and can walk you through other steps to make your question markorganization more desirable to possible funders.

What does the 501(c)(3) status mean?

Organizations that are classified as 501(c)(3) organizations by the IRS are exempt from federal taxes, and possibly state corporate income taxes. Additionally, donations and contributions made to the organization are tax-deductible for the donors. This can make donating to the organization more attractive.

Why is 501(c)(3) status important when applying for a grant?

Grants from governmental entities and private foundations often require  501(c)(3) status, so the status is necessary to receive such funds. This status also gives the organization the public legitimacy of IRS recognition, an important factor when grant makers are determining funding.

What are the requirements to receive an 501(c)(3) exemption?

Organizations that are labeled 501(c)(3) are usually referred to as charitable organizations. The entity must be organized exclusively for charitable, educational, or scientific purposes. To be eligible, the entity must be organized as a corporation, which could be a limited liability company, a trust, or an association. The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization's net earnings may benefit any private shareholder or individual. Additionally, the organization must not have the sole intent of influencing legislation, and it may not participate in any campaign activities for or against political candidates. Organizations that receive this status are also limited in how much political and legislative lobbying they may perform.

Can churches, religious organizations, or private foundations receive the exemption?

Yes, as long as the organization meets the requirements mentioned above.

What is the process to receive the 501(c)(3) designation?

Organizations seeking to receive the 501(c)(3) designation must complete three steps. First, the organization must apply for and receive an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN can be applied for in a variety of ways, including through the IRS website. Receiving your EIN is a free service.

Second, the entity needs to incorporate with the appropriate state and local agency or agencies. The IRS requires that your incorporation documents include specific language referring to your charitable purpose. Further, the organization must establish by-laws, which also must refer to your charitable purpose.

Once these two steps are completed, the organization can then apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS. The form currently required by the IRS is Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Ex­emption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which can be found on the IRS website. A fee is required when applying for tax-exempt status. This fee is based on the organization’s gross receipts.

A note of caution, however: The IRS currently has a backlog of these applications to review, and application approval could take more than a year.

What is the difference between nonprofit and tax-exempt status?

A nonprofit determination is a state law concept, whereas the tax-exempt status is determined by the IRS. Most federal tax-exempt organizations are indeed non-profit organizations, but being a nonprofit does not automatically grant the organization tax-exempt status.


The team of Grant Helpers can assist you at all stages from the initial development of your organization and its programs to finding financial support to implementing grant funding. See our complete list of services to see how we can help you.


Photo credit: Horia Varlan

Topics: how to get noticed, 501(c)(3), foundations, starting a organization, grant tips, grant seeking, IRS, organization development