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How to Apply for a Grant

​The Community Fund of Darien invests in the community by making investments in vital, nonprofit health and human services organizations that:

  • Serve human services needs addressing Basic Needs, Youth Success, Workforce Development and Community Health (see our Key Areas of Impact for more detail).

  • Demonstrate that the recipients of an applicant’s services, or specific applying program, are primarily residents of Darien, Norwalk and/or Stamford. We prioritize organizations which are predominately serving our local catchment area.

  • Clearly demonstrate outcomes, impact and trends through key performance indicators and metrics, including specific outcomes for program recipients in Darien, Norwalk and Stamford

  • Provide three years of audited financials.

  • Adhere to a non-discrimination policy on the basis of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities, gender or national origin or any other characteristic protected by law in all aspects of organizational operations including hiring, leadership, and service provision.

  • Be a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Investments typically range from $5,000 to $40,000 and are awarded at the end of our fiscal year in June.


The Community Fund of Darien generally will NOT consider investments for:

  • Individuals

  • Annual appeals or membership drives

  • Fundraising events

  • Capital campaigns

  • Capital projects

  • Religious activities, projects or organizations which do not serve the public on a nondenominational basis

  • Political or lobbying efforts

  • Endowment campaigns

  • Scholarships

  • Conference fees

  • Research

  • Environmental programs

  • Arts or cultural programs

Application Process

Applications for a 2023 grant are closed.

If your organization or program meets all the Eligibility Requirements, we encourage you to submit an Initial application. The link to the Initial Application for a 2024 grant will be available on October 31, 2023 and is due back by December 2, 2023. All information must be submitted through our online portal, Smarter Select.

Organizations submitting the Initial Application will be informed in mid-January if they are invited to submit a Full Application, which will be due at the end of February. Invitation to proceed with the Community Investment application process is at the sole discretion of The Community Fund of Darien.

Community Investment applications must conform to the format and content specifications provided in the application forms. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. The Community Fund of Darien may not approve an investment request even though it meets the established criteria. Community Investment Awards will be announced at the end of our June 30 fiscal year and will be distributed in July 2023. The Community Fund of Darien reserves sole discretion to award or deny investments as it deems appropriate.

Reporting Requirements and Investment Agreement
  • Investees will be required to sign and return an investment award agreement.

  • Investees will be required to submit interim (6-month) and final (12-month) reports detailing how funds were used.

Indicators and Measurements

Basic Needs
  • % of residents that are food insecure, # of residents accessing food

  • # of meals distributed, $ amount of food

  • Proportion of food distributed that is fresh, nutritious, and cost-effective

  • # of homeless (chronic homeless, youth homeless, families homeless)

  • # of housing placements, # of positive exits, # of people transitioning to permanent housing, # of people in permanent housing 1 year after placement

  • # of people helped through financial assistance and degree of stability six months later

Youth Success
  • Student benchmarks to measure kindergarten readiness

  • # / % of low-income families accessing early childhood care and education prior to kindergarten

  • Program attendance and retention

  • School attendance and grade-level academic performance

  • High school graduation rates and college entry rates

Workforce Development
  • # of participants enrolled in job programs, skills, trade, or language classes

  • # of job placements (temporary vs. permanent)

  • Retention statistics of employment achieved

  • Increases in wages and revenue generated by job program

  • # of participants contracted for potential employment

  • # of job placements for young adults entering the workforce from high school or community college

  • Data supporting increased independence through job support programs

  • # of college/community college students progressing to next level of education as result of programming

  • College/community college graduation rates

  • Post-secondary plans (i.e. college, trade skills training, military enlistment, employment, etc.)

Community Health
  • % of patients who are "better off": # of patients served, value of services delivered, improvement in clinical condition and reduction in complications from chronic disease

  • Costs saved by avoiding emergency room visits and hospitalizations

  • Evidence-based indicators of mental health and availability of clinical treatment, % of population served achieving stability

  • Indicators of substance abuse prevention and treatment success: % completing treatment without relapse, % of population receiving mental health support for co-occurring disorders

  • Indicators of awareness and programs in substance abuse prevention; of education and options for families affected by addiction; and of community resources

  • For youth, reduced school absences related to healthcare issues, # of situations stabilized, # improved mental health outcomes, reduced costs (acute care, hospitalization) resulting from preventative care

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