Founders' Grant Application

Underwritten by:

Applications will be accepted from public schools, parochial schools, and other nonprofit community organizations operating within the geographic area of the Rockford Public School District which support REF’s vision that all Rockford community members have access to the best educational tools and experiences and our mission to provide funding for educational opportunities. A successful application will be one that is innovative in nature, impacts a significant number of learners and presents an opportunity that will have a deep and lasting impact in the community.

The grant application should address at least the following:

» A description of the organization
» A description and purpose of the grant requested
» Data to support the efficacy of the grant in promoting the vision and mission of the REF
» If the grant is for a pilot program, or durable asset, a description of how the program or asset will be funded or maintained in the future if it proves to be successful
» An estimate of the number of learners impacted by the grant
» A detailed budget of the grant, including a description of alternate service or material suppliers considered
» A description of the means of evaluating the success of the program, and reporting to REF
» A description of how the program will publicize REF funding
» Whether other sources of funding or volunteers will be used or available
» You may attach data, studies, etc. to support your grant (materials should be carefully selected to be succinct and informative)
» If the request is technology related, the application must include written support and confirmation that the equipment is compatible and will be supported from the RPS Op-Tech department or your organization’s IT department.


Underwritten by Wolverine Worldwide Foundation

The minimum grant submission is $10,000; the maximum is $25,000. Applications will be reviewed internally by the REF. The top three to five candidates will be asked to make a presentation of up to 30 minutes in length to the REF Board on Monday, April 19. Grants will be awarded by April 30. Grants will be awarded by April.

The REF Board of Trustees generally looks more favorably upon grants that:

» Impact a large number of learners
» Are creative and innovative in nature
» Are sustainable for more than one year
» Are new pilot or start-up programs

If the grant is for a pilot or start-up program, it is important that there be an ongoing source of funding to continue the project. REF does not favor utilizing a Founder’s Grant as a permanent source of funding for an ongoing project. Founders’ grants are one-time in nature and must be fully funded by April 30th of the second year following approval (i.e. A grant approved in Spring 2021 must be fully funded by the Spring of 2023.)

Although the REF Board of Trustees may make exceptions, applications that have the following characteristics generally will not be approved:

» Consumable items such as food, t-shirts, prizes, subscriptions, etc.
» Substitute teachers
» Continuation of previously approved programs
» Furniture
» Transportation

The applicant receiving the grant will be required to periodically make a written and verbal report on the progress and success of the program funded. Compliance with this requirement will be taken into account in considering future requests from the organization. If you have any questions, you may contact REF Executive Director, Beth Meyer-Kraff: 616-863-6317 or through email at


    Please be sure to follow grant application bullet points and limit proposal to two pages written in clear non-technical language.

    Accepted file upload types: pdf, doc, jpg, gif, and png. NO docx allowed.