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Kresge Foundation launches new grantmaking initiative in Memphis

American Cities, Arts & Culture, Education, Health, Human Services

The Kresge Foundation announced today a new funding opportunity for the city of Memphis, which seeks to support nonprofit organizations to expand opportunity for Memphis residents with low incomes.

Since 2013, Kresge has made a suite of investments in Memphis totaling more than $2.5 million to support efforts that spur economic and community development. With the launch of The Kresge Foundation Funding Opportunity in Memphis,  the foundation is expanding its philanthropic investment in the city to help support local nonprofit and government organizations, across an array of sectors.

“In keeping with our foundation’s core mission – to expand opportunity for people with low incomes in America’s cities – Kresge will invest in local partners working on strengthening the urban fabric and systems of Memphis,” said Chantel Rush, program officer with the American Cities Practice. “We have valued our growing relationships in Memphis and the opportunity to learn more about community aspirations. We aim to accelerate the most promising approaches to strengthening communities, and hope to support organizations which exhibit an established track record of success, pioneering leadership and innovative organizational goals and strategies.”

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Through this funding opportunity, Kresge is primarily looking to make investments in organizations working in arts and culture, community development, education, health or human services across four categories of approaches:

  1. Supporting the articulation of community priorities to inform decision-making;
  2. Determining plans for action at the community level;
  3. Enhancing the capacity for transformative change at the community and/or city level, and
  4. Strengthening neighborhoods and systems of opportunity.

We encourage nonprofit organizations and local government agencies supporting the expansion of opportunities for residents with low incomes in the City of Memphis to apply. The foundation will accept applications requesting support for planning and implementation activities. In specific circumstances, the foundation will also consider general operating support requests in the areas of Creative Placemaking, community development or human services.

Kresge expects to offer grants within the range of about $25,000 to $150,000 for a timeframe of up to two years. Kresge will prioritize grant investments that:

  1. Are multidisciplinary in approach;
  2. Draw on Kresge’s expertise in two or more of the following areas: community development, creative placemaking, health, higher education and human services;
  3. Have the potential to unlock additional investments or leverage existing investments from other funders.

Kresge will consider funding requests through a two-phase selection process. The first phase involves submitting letters of inquiry (LOI), which are due by January 31, 2017.  After internal review, the foundation will invite selected applicants to submit full proposals, with guidance regarding strategic fit. Kresge plans to determine which organizations will be invited to the full proposal phase by March 24, 2017.



In addition to demonstrating the ability to meet the priorities detailed above, strong grantee LOI applications will also:

  • Focus on expanding opportunities for Memphis residents with low incomes;
  • Emphasize improving racial equity;
  • Have evidence of local community support;
  • Offer a clear articulation of goals and strategies;
  • Showcase collaboration with partners;
  • Have an orientation toward learning and continuous improvement;
  • Are multi-disciplinary.

“The Kresge Foundation is committed to bolstering and deepening the impact of local organizations in Memphis that propel new ways of expanding opportunity for those who need it most,” said Carol Coletta, senior fellow with the American Cities Practice.