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Application Process

Application Process

After learning more about eligibility, types of support, and our application process details, we encourage all qualified organizations to apply for a grant using our online system which you can access below.


We invest in strong leaders and support organizations that range from small grassroots efforts to more established programs. Our grantees are all united in their passion to create long-term positive change for individuals and families. Ceres funds a mix of innovative and proven models, but all organizations must be able to demonstrate or have a plan to demonstrate measurable outcomes.

We fund nonprofit organizations in LA + Orange County, CA, Washington, DC, and Western, MA focused on advancing education and employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth through College Access & Success, Career Pathways, and Family Strengthening programs. Grantees must be 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations that are also described in IRS section 509(a)(1), 509(a)(2) or (in certain cases) 509(a)(3).

Learn More About Our Funding Priorities
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Types of Support

Our goal is to make lasting investments and we value long-term collaborations, often awarding successive-year or multi-year grants. We primarily provide general operating support and capacity building investments as our funding is intended to strengthen nonprofit organizations and to provide them with the flexibility to determine their spending priorities. However, we do sometimes earmark support for specific programs or initiatives. Ceres median annual grant size is $70K and generally we only provide one grant per calendar year to any organization.

What We Don't Fund

  • Scholarships or direct financial awards to individuals
  • Sectarian activities for religious organizations
  • Organizations that discriminate on the basis of age, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, cultural beliefs, disability or sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity or expression
  • Disease-specific initiatives and/or medical research
  • Political causes, candidates, organizations or campaigns
  • Organizations whose primary purpose is to influence legislation
  • Sponsorship of events, conferences, or meetings

Application and Review Process

New to The Ceres Foundation


Thank you for your interest in partnering with the Ceres Foundation. After undergoing substantial growth in the last two years, we have decided to use this as a learning year that will inform our grantmaking approach going forward. As such, we have decided to take a step back from growing our new partnerships in 2024 and are not accepting concept papers. We are hopeful that we’ll have more opportunities for new partnerships in 2025 and that our work this year will provide us with additional clarity in terms of the types of models we’re most interested in supporting.

Concept Paper

Recent Grantees

If your organization has received a grant from The Ceres Foundation within the past two years, you may go straight to the submission of a Full Proposal using our online application. We operate four grant review cycles annually. Organizations are invited to submit a proposal for the cycle that is most convenient for them. However, we ask that returning grantees submit a final report prior to making a new funding request.

Full Proposal

Submission & Review Schedule

Q1 2024 Review Cycle

Submission Deadline: January 29, 2024

Funding Decision: March 2024

Q2 2024 Review Cycle

Submission Deadline: April 1, 2024

Funding Decision: June 2024

Q3 2024 Review Cycle

Submission Deadline: July 1, 2024

Funding Decision: September 2024

Q4 2024 Review Cycle

Submission Deadline: October 1, 2024

Funding Decision: December 2024

Final Report

A condition of receiving a grant from The Ceres Foundation is the submission of a final report. In the case of multi-year funding commitments, we require annual reporting on the status of the grant. Final reports must be submitted no more than 60 days after the end of the grant period and must be received before a new application is reviewed.


What documents should I be prepared to upload in the online application?

  • Organization budgets
  • Program budgets (if applicable)
  • Independent audits or IRS 990
  • Organizational chart
  • Fundraising pipeline and commitments
  • Board of Directors
  • Strategic Plan (if applicable)

What insight is required about my organizations target client groups and service model?

  • Number of people expected to serve during the grant period
  • Profile of target client groups
  • Client selection process
  • Probably client outcomes without your intervention
  • Elements that make your program model succesful
  • Definition and measurement of success for clients served

Which underserved populations do grantees of The Ceres Foundation's serve?

  • Low-income youth ages 10-26
  • Foster youth
  • Homeless or formerly homeless
  • Young parents
  • First-generation college students
  • Individuals involved in the justice system
  • Individuals who leave school before graduating
  • Individuals living in LA + Orange County, CA, Washington, DC, and Western MA

What is capacity building?

Capacity building is whatever is needed to bring a nonprofit to the next level of operational, programmatic, financial, or organizational maturity, so it may more effectively and efficiently advance its mission into the future. Capacity building is not a one-time effort to improve short-term effectiveness, but a continuous improvement strategy toward the creation of a sustainable and impactful organization.

- National Council of Nonprofits

What are The Ceres Foundation's values?

We believe in building trusting relationships by deploying a collaborative approach and adopting a long-term perspective. We support innovative models that change individual lives by expanding opportunities for disadvantaged youth and vulnerable families with a focus on sustained impact. We strive to foster continuous improvement for ourselves and our grant partners and seek to get to know and understand the people and communities in which we invest. We believe we all have a role to play in advancing racial and social equity.