Access Grants from the Hartford Foundation

Update on Access Grants 2/16/23: In the two years since it launched, we have used our Access Grants program to award one-year grants to support nonprofits and community organizations with ideas that help dismantle structural racism in Greater Hartford and/or align with one of the Foundation’s outcome areas. We are currently working on some adjustments to Access Grants based on nonprofit feedback and our own learning from the past two years. Please check back on May 1 for an update. 

Does your organization have a mission or project idea that contributes to the goal of dismantling structural racism in Greater Hartford?

As part of our mission, the Hartford Foundation is taking significant steps to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility in Greater Hartford's Black and Latinx communities.

Access Grants are one way the Foundation is advancing this vision, providing awards of up to $50,000 to nonprofits and community organizations:

  1. whose work is most aligned with the Foundation’s strategic priorities,
  2. who are not already receiving support from the Foundation for this work, and
  3. who may introduce new ideas and approaches.

Organizations with ideas to help dismantle structural racism in Greater Hartford are encouraged to learn more and submit a proposal. Applicants who have never received a grant from the Foundation, or do not currently have an open grant of $10,000 or more with the Foundation, as well as organizations that are BIPOC-led, will be prioritized for support.

Who is eligible?

All nonprofits, or community groups with a fiscal sponsor, that have served Greater Hartford for at least a year and have a mission or proposed project that could be an effective strategy or approach to dismantle structural racism, including by advancing equitable social and economic mobility, are eligible to apply. The Foundation looks forward to learning how our community nonprofit partners believe their work may be contributing to the dismantling of structural racism. We welcome new approaches to advance its outcome areas, as well as new ideas that may fall outside or cut across these outcome areas, but still contribute to this broader vision. Access Grant recipients from previous rounds(July 2021October 2021April 2022, and November 2022) who are interested in continuation funding for their funded work should contact their assigned officer and not reapply through the online application below.

The Foundation has outlined criteria to assess and prioritize requests for Access Grants. Please review this before applying. If your request does not fit, please view our other grant opportunities or contact the Foundation to see what other opportunities may be available. You may direct general questions at any time to: Atención disponible (via email) en español también.

If you are looking for support to undertake diversity, equity, and inclusion work within your organization, consider contacting our Nonprofit Support Program:

What types of grants are available?

Requests of up to $50,000 over a period of one year will be considered. Grant award size would be in alignment with the size and scope of the work, the agency’s capacity to implement the work, and its expected impact. Requests may support new projects or existing efforts, including operating support for organizations who have a mission that is dedicated to dismantling structural racism.

We recognize that work to dismantle racism and advance equitable economic and social mobility will require sustained efforts, beyond one year. As such, Access Grant recipients that are able to demonstrate the potential for impact during and beyond the grant period will be considered for continued support in subsequent years and should discuss this with their assigned officer during their grant period.

What do we mean by "dismantle structural racism?"

In Greater Hartford and across the country, Black and Latinx communities as well as other communities of color face persistent disparities, which create barriers to health, wellbeing and wealth building. These disparities are the result of decades of systemic factors, many of which are still woven into the fabric of our institutions. Our efforts to dismantle structural racism are aimed at shifting power, building equity, influencing attitudes and beliefs, and supporting strategic outcomes that contribute to residents’ efforts to reach their potential, with a focus on Black and Latinx residents.

We understand that the work of dismantling structural racism requires collaboration, and that those closest to the work often have the best solutions. If you have an idea that would help toward dismantle structural racism in Greater Hartford, and fits with our outlined criteria for Access Grants, we encourage you to apply. 

What is the timeline for applications?

We are working on some adjustments to our Access Grants program based on nonprofit feedback and our own learning from the past two years. 

We are not currently accepting new applications for Access Grants.

Please check back on May 1 for an update. 

How to apply

We are not currently accepting new applications for Access Grants. Please check back on May 1 for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

New Questions for 2023

Why is the Foundation prioritizing support to nonprofits that are new (or newer) to the Foundation through this grant process? 

The Foundation is pleased to already be supporting many critical mission-aligned nonprofit partners in Greater Hartford. For these nonprofits who already have an open grant from the Foundation, we encourage you to speak with your current officer to learn how we may be able to continue to be a resource for your work. Through this conversation, your officer can help navigate potential opportunities for continued grant support. Access Grants are designed as an option for organizations that don’t already have a relationship with the Foundation and would like to introduce their work through this “door.” Organizations that are new to the Foundation may also reach out to to schedule a conversation and find out if there are other ways the Foundation may be able to support work that contributes to our strategic priorities.

Why is the Foundation prioritizing support to BIPOC-led nonprofits? 

Advancing the Foundation’s vision of dismantling structural racism and advancing equitable social and economic mobility must include nonprofits led by people with lived experiences of racism. We prioritize BIPOC-led work because our goals require new perspectives and leaders with credibility to engage the people and communities that are most impacted by racism and historical inequity.

Research has shown that BIPOC-led organizations have faced historical disinvestment due to structural racism and funder bias. Currently, BIPOC-led organizations are less likely to be awarded grant funds, contributing to these organizations having budgets 24% smaller than white-led organizations and BIPOC leaders facing greater restrictions from funders regarding how to spend those funds than groups with white leaders.1 The historical disinvestment in BIPOC-led work suggests foundations and individual donors determine it to be a “riskier” investment. Data show that racial bias exists even when comparing funding between nonprofits that have similar focus areas, but leaders from different backgrounds. For example, among nonprofits focused on improving outcomes of Black men, funding to nonprofits with Black leaders was 45% lower than at nonprofits led by white people.2

The Foundation seeks to address this disinvestment and overcome this funder bias by evolving our grantmaking practices to engage and support BIPOC-led organizations at the front lines of addressing inequities experienced in communities of color.


1 Nonprofits Led by People of Color Win Less Grant Money With More Strings (Study) (  See the whole report at Racial Equity In Philanthropy | Bridgespan. See also Savage, B., Dorsey, C., Kim, P., Daniels, C., & Sakaue, L. (2020). Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

2 Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Tabl | Bridgespan

Why is the Foundation offering feedback to unsuccessful applicants? 

The Foundation values the time of all of our nonprofit partners and we recognize that that time is best spent serving the community, not applying for grants. By offering to provide feedback, we hope this may help our partners to determine whether this grant process is the right fit for their work and if there are ways they can better describe their work to demonstrate how it aligns with our vision. We also welcome the opportunity to speak with nonprofits before you apply, if you are not sure whether or not this is the right opportunity for you.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Can a grant cover capital expenses for a current project that fits the criteria of the Access Grants? 

Yes, all types of requests are “on the table.” It’s about making the case for why the funds can have an impact in terms of racial and social mobility equity.

Can an organization apply for a grant without a 501(c)(3) tax designation or fiscal sponsor? 

The Foundation’s grantmaking policies restrict our grantmaking to registered nonprofit, IRS designated 501(c)(3) organizations. Neighborhood associations or community groups interested in seeking support should work with a registered nonprofit organization willing to serve as a fiscal sponsor.

Can non-profits apply for an Access Grant as well as other grant opportunities in the same year? 

Yes, applicants are still eligible even if they already have an open grant with the Foundation. Please be aware that using our eligibility criteria, more weight will be given to organizations that do not have an existing open grant, particularly a multi-year open grant. This criteria, however, is only one of the determinants for application assessment.

Could funds from Access Grants be used to provide assistance to employers to address hiring barriers? 

The Hartford Foundation is unable to provide funding directly to for-profit employers. However, we are interested in supporting the ecosystem for employment efforts and small businesses, for example, when such support would create greater opportunity for adults with barriers to employment. We can only make grants to support those efforts through nonprofits.

Is it possible to apply for other grant opportunities and the Access Grant in the same year? 

Yes. This is not an exclusive grant opportunity. Please be aware that using our eligibility criteria, more weight will be given to organizations that do not have an existing open grant, particularly a multi-year open grant. This criteria, however, is only one of the determinants for application assessment.

Is there a minimum budget size requirement to be eligible for a grant? 

No. There is no specific minimum budget size; however, we do require that organizations have existed and have a track record of work and outcomes for at least one year in order to apply.

Is there a preference for supporting programs/projects versus operating support? 

No. We are agnostic as to the type of philanthropic tool or the kind of structure of the grant. We are interested to hear the impact that the organization expects to have, how it plans to contribute to dismantling structural racism, promote equitable social and economic mobility as well as the support needed from the Foundation. If flexible support is needed to support this overall mission, we would like to hear that.

Is there a maximum and a minimum grant request? 

Requests of up to $50,000 will be considered. The minimum grant request has not yet been explored.

Is virtual programming acceptable? 

Yes. Organizations that understand the need for virtual programming and consideration of the current CDC social distancing and other guidelines would be viewed positively. We expect everyone who applies has considered the current health guidelines that we are facing. While we are hopeful that programming will be open and able to be done face-to-face in the not-so-distant future, we are also realistic of what is possible right now and are supportive of keeping people safe. We would encourage organizations to build flexibility into their proposed activities and be able to adapt.

Is there a particular content area of interest for this grant opportunity? 

No. All nonprofits serving Greater Hartford that can make a case that the work they are requesting support for might contribute to dismantling structural racism and promoting equitable social and economic mobility are eligible. We welcome a range of different project ideas or types of work and are excited to see what ideas the community has that can contribute to this common goal.

Is there a preference for first time applicants? 

If the organization has no open grant or has never received a grant from the Hartford Foundation, they will receive maximum “points” in one area using our criteria to assess grants. We are not favoring first time applicants above all others but rather attempting to provide an opportunity to them.

Would a grant proposal receive more points if there is collaboration among agencies? 

The rubric doesn’t specifically score collaboration, but the rubric does address the consideration of whether applicants consider other stakeholders or service providers, and how the request is fulfilling a gap or is coordinating with other available services. Collaboration is a good way of showing that a conscious effort towards looking at the full “ecosystem” has been made.

Why are Access Grants mainly one-year support, given the long-term nature of the work? 

To some degree, it has to do with how our budgeting works. Multi-year support may be offered after the first year of awards based on the outcomes of the first one-year grant. The one-year approach offers more flexibility to try out options and give more nonprofits the opportunity to try new approaches. But, continued support will be necessary for impactful work that requires longer-term support.

What is the Foundation’s vision of social and/or economic mobility impact? 

We strive to contribute to the dismantling of structural racism and to promote equitable economic and social mobility. This means looking at and attempting to address the needs of Greater Hartford residents facing the greatest disadvantages, the greatest barriers, or the least access across a number of different factors, whether that means access to high quality education, healthcare, stable housing, employment, safety issues, or tables at which decisions are made.

We are working to support efforts that would remove barriers to access and promote more equitable access. Access Grants invite organizations to think about the work that they are doing, the community that they are serving, the needs of their community and barriers they may face to access opportunities and share with the Foundation your organization’s ideas on how to make an even greater impact in the community.

Would requests in furtherance of making materials more accessible be appropriate for this opportunity? 

Yes. If organization believes there is a project idea that creates greater access to their services (translation and interpretation services, etc.) and therefore contributes to dismantling structural racism and promoting equitable social and economic mobility, we would be open to learning about it.

What percentage of Greater Hartford area beneficiaries should be served by this grant opportunity? 

We are prioritizing requests that would serve Greater Hartford 100%. Organizations need to be serving at least 25% of Greater Hartford residents to receive any “points” in our rubric. Even in this case, the budget request would need to be proportional to services or impact in Greater Hartford. 

Would scholarship requests to a private school be eligible?  

This is unlikely. While it may have a deep impact on a small number of individuals, the scope of the impact would be very limited. With Access Grant funds, we hope to have a broader scale impact, particularly given the limited resources.

Would consideration be given to a grant that educates the Greater Hartford area about a certain faith/cultural focus as part of a cultural center? 

The Hartford Foundation has a restriction on supporting sectarian efforts, particularly proselytizing, so we could not support a request that would be seen as proselytizing. However, if an organization believes that they have a proposal that will contribute to dismantling structural racism and promoting equitable social and economic mobility, please feel free to apply or reach out to have an additional conversation.

Some organizations may want to focus internally first to see their own areas for improvement within DEI in order to better position themselves to work for equity in their community. Would Access Grants offer assistance for this area of focus? 

This sort of request for “internal DEI work” could be considered for Access Grants but it might be better supported through a request to our Nonprofit Support Program. In addition to funding the work itself, NSP can provide guidance in selecting a consultant or identifying other supports. 

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