Applying for Grants
The College Access Foundation of California funds organizations that demonstrate the capacity to expand access to public financial aid to large numbers of low-income students. We also fund organizations with the capacity to increase the likelihood that low-income students will succeed in college. Typically, our program team identifies potential grantee partners and invites them to submit a grant proposal.
- Renewal Grants to Current Grantees
The Foundation will solicit requests for renewal funding from select organizations that have received previous support. Current grantees should contact the program officer with whom they currently work if they have any questions.
- New Grant Inquiries
The Foundation accepts unsolicited grant inquiries annually through an Open Inquiry process that typically begins from February through the end of April. The open inquiry period for 2013 has now closed. Please check back in January 2014 for information regarding our 2014 Open Inquiry process.
What We Fund Programs That Help California’s Low-Income Students Go to College
Our mission at the College Access Foundation of California is to help the state’s qualified low-income students attend college and graduate. To achieve this mission, we provide support to a portfolio of programs and community-based organizations committed to increasing persistence and graduation rates among low-income and underrepresented college students by providing need-based scholarships and helping students access public financial aid to make college more affordable. Our Grants Portfolio
Our grantmaking supports three lines of work: providing scholarships, making financial aid accessible, and providing college completion support, as outlined in this chart.
Grants to Provide Scholarships
We award grants for scholarships and operating support for administering need-based scholarship programs that work with low-income students. In 2013, we hope to fund a limited number of new scholarship programs, and given the composition of our current scholarship programs, we will give priority consideration to organizations that meet the following requirements:
- Work in one or more of the following counties: Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, or San Diego Counties; and
- Have experience working effectively with historically and presently underrepresented groups in higher education, including low-income males, African Americans, and other underrepresented groups (for example, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese), and meet the requirements outlined in our Best Practices.
In addition, we have an interest in supporting scholarship programs that seek to creatively use scholarships as part of a strategy to increase the number of low-income students who access public financial aid, particularly those programs working in partnership with local schools and business and civic communities. Grants to Make Financial Aid Accessible
We award program support grants for the following types of strategies to expand access to public financial aid for large numbers of low-income students:
- Expanding financial aid guidance to large numbers of low-income students: We also award program support grants to organizations or programs that seek to enhance their capacities to provide quality, up-to-date financial aid guidance services to all high school students—particularly seniors—participating in their programs. Our goal is to complement educational and support services with financial aid counseling and advising for all students that a program serves. We are particularly interested in programs that have the institutional capacity to expand financial aid services to large numbers of low-income students (relative to the local context).
Grants to Provide College Completion Support
- Programs that promote universal FAFSA and Cal Grant application completion: We support partnerships and collaborative efforts by high schools, school districts, county offices of education, community-based organizations, and business and civic organizations to institutionalize universal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion and Cal Grant application processes and procedures in high schools with significant numbers of low-income students. Our goal is to have these processes and procedures become standard practice so that all graduating high school seniors apply for Pell Grants and Cal Grants and, if they enroll in a California community college, Board of Governor fee waivers.
The Foundation is still exploring this area. We are interested in testing different ways in which postsecondary institutions can create effective partnerships with community-based college advising programs to increase retention and graduation rates for low-income college students. We are particularly interested in working with organizations and supporting strategies that have the potential to scale effective retention and completion practices. Eligibility Requirements Who Can Apply?
The Foundation only accepts inquiries from California non-profit organizations that are classified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (or have a fiscal sponsor with tax-exempt status) and from California public agencies or government entities.
We do not award grants or scholarships to individual students. Criteria for Consideration
The Foundation supports organizations with a demonstrable capacity to develop and implement strategies to expand access to public financial aid for low-income students and/or increases their likelihood of completing postsecondary education. In addition, potential grantees must meet the following criteria to be considered for program support and/or scholarship funding:
- Primarily serve low-income students and/or students who are among the first in their families to attend college;
- Provide college preparation services, financial aid application assistance and college persistence support to low-income students who attend or graduated from California high schools;
- Serve low-income students who plan to pursue or are currently pursuing two- and four-year degrees full-time at accredited, degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States;
- Demonstrate the ability to work with significant numbers of low-income students to provide financial aid advising, provide assistance completing the FAFSA, and provide services that ensure students meet all application deadlines;
- Organizations interested in applying for support to expand financial aid services or ensure FAFSA completion and Cal Grant applications are institutionalized in high schools must be able to demonstrate strong working relationships with high schools, school districts or county offices of education with large numbers of low-income students;
Organizations interested in applying for grant support to implement persistence and completion strategies for students once they are enrolled in college must be able to demonstrate appropriate working relationships or partnerships with relevant departments at one or more postsecondary institutions;
- Demonstrate the capacity to effectively collect student-level data and use it to inform and improve program practices. We require grantees to collect and submit student-level data for all students who receive scholarships and financial aid services funded by the Foundation, including scholarship amounts, high schools and postsecondary institutions attended, and other demographic and financial aid data. For FAFSA completion and financial aid work supported at the high school level, we expect grantees to work with high schools to collect key aggregate high school class –level data annually; and
- Demonstrate financial stability.
All scholarship grantees must administer scholarships programs in adherence with the Foundation’s Scholarship Best Practices
Confirm Alignment with Foundation Goals and Objectives
Inquiry Organizations submitting a New Grantee Inquiry must demonstrate that they have the necessary institutional partnerships and staff capacity to accomplish one or more of the following priorities:
- Expand financial aid advising to large numbers of low-income students;
- Work with high schools or school districts to ensure students complete the FAFSA and Cal Grant applications as part of standard annual practices at high schools with large numbers of low-income students;
- Work with postsecondary institutions to ensure more low-income students persist through college and graduate; and/or
- Strategically use scholarships to accomplish any of the three objectives previously described.