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NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for Merrimack Valley

To demonstrate a collaborative and sustainable investment in the region, in 2020 NiSource established the NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for Merrimack Valley (“the Fund”), a Field of Interest Fund at Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF).

This responsive grantmaking program invites nonprofits to apply for grants between $25,000-200,000 in support of the core areas of Basic Needs & Hardship Assistance, Economic & Workforce Development, Safety, STEM and Energy Education and Environmental Stewardship (see specific definitions below).

grant guidelines

eligibility

Applications are welcome from:

  • 501(c)(3) organizations*
  • Collaborations of two or more 501(c)(3) organizations
    • Municipalities of City of Lawrence, Town of Andover and Town of North Andover are allowed as sub-partner or collaborator but not as lead applicant.

* Preference will be given to applications/nonprofit organizations based in Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover. However, applicants based outside of the area will be allowed on two conditions:

1) If the nonprofit applicant is based outside of the three communities, they must demonstrate a successful history of working within those three communities

2) If the nonprofit is based outside of the region and has yet to work within these three communities, applications will only be considered if they can demonstrate an innovative solution to an unmet need that will positively impact the people and places of the three communities in the Merrimack Valley.

Individual programs as well as cross-sector/cross-organization collaborations are all encouraged to apply.
Municipalities may apply as a sub-grantee as part of such a cross-sector/cross-organization collaboration.

funding guidelines

Grant requests may focus on general operating support, existing programs that address continued need, or new programs or collaborative efforts in the following areas and sub-categories below. Applicants may also apply for multi-year funding of up to three years. Core areas are:

  • Basic Needs & Hardship Assistance: Food, Shelter, Social Determinants of Health Service and Mental Health
  • Economic & Workforce Development: Retention and Attraction of Job Opportunities; Energy Infrastructure; Community Vitality
  • Environmental Stewardship: Protection and Restoration of Natural Resources, Energy Conservation and Environmental Education
  • Safety: Emergency Assistance & Disaster Preparedness, First Aid, Safety Education & Energy Safety
  • STEM and Energy Education: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Energy Education

Each application is eligible to apply for a grant between $25,000-200,000. These grants may be spread over three years.

selection criteria

A Fund Advisory Committee of local leaders from all three communities has been assembled to review applications. In addition to the funding priorities listed above, grant reviewers also look for the following:

  • Clearly defined objectives that will positively impact the people and places of the three communities
  • The potential impact of the proposed work on the population served
  • Quality of programming
  • Management staff with considerable administrative experience
  • Fiscally sound programs/organizations with balanced budgets

Grants will not be awarded:

  • Directly to individuals
  • For sectarian or religious purposes. Note: NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for Merrimack Valley is limited to non-sectarian programming for residents of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. Programs sponsored by religious organizations are eligible, if service is open to all and the program is free of mandatory religious instruction, worship, or other sectarian activities.
  • For political purposes
  • For debt or deficit reduction
  • For capital campaigns such as buildings, land acquisition, vehicles or endowment
  • Supporting academic research
timeline

Information sessions:
ECCF will conduct two information webinars about the cycle in December 2023.

Session 1:
NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for MV – 2023/2024 Info Session #1
Time: Dec 5, 2023 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcsce2oqzsjG9bahdvDhPJ27Ph6_iwyF33L


Session 2:
NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for MV – 2023/2024 Info Session #2

NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for MV Info Session #2
Time: Dec 14, 2023 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYvduqqrjsjGNDeC5hvidRVilpXXGT5uUoN


LOI Deadline:

LOI’s must be submitted online by no later than Monday January 15, 2024 at 5 PM. Late LOI’s will not be accepted.

Site Visits:
Upon review of LOI’s, the Advisors will invite a narrowed list of agencies to site.

Final Determinations:
The goal of the Fund is to make final determinations by the end of May 2024; however, the Fund reserves the right to revise the timetable should it be necessary.

Application Procedures

LOI’s must be submitted through ECCF’s Application Portal.

If you do not yet have a login for our Application Portal, please read our Grant Application Process page which will give you access to the Portal.

review process

The Advisors Committee of the NiSource Charitable Foundation for Merrimack Valley is comprised of local business, and community leaders, three NiSource and one Eversource representative. With the support of ECCF, the Advisors review proposals to the Fund. The Advisors make grant recommendations to the ECCF Board of Trustees for approval. Our goal is to notify applicants of grant decisions by the end of May 2024, however the Fund reserves the right to revise the timetable should it be necessary.

Proposals that do not meet deadlines or guidelines will be screened out by the ECCF staff (per guidance from the Fund Advisors) and receive early notification.

An ECCF staff person may contact applicants for additional information about a proposal during the review process. The staff may also contact other funders, community leaders, or other local agencies to learn more about the organization applying for funds and to discuss the outlined plans. Copies of proposals submitted to ECCF may be shared with others during the review process.

As part of the review process, agencies that move into final review round will be asked to conduct a site visit with Fund Advisors. An ECCF staff person will reach out to you directly to organize these presentations should your LOI make it through the first round of reviews.

reporting requirements

Grantees of the NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for Merrimack Valley must submit an interim (dependent on grant duration) and a final report at the close of the grant.

For more information or to discuss a project or program idea, please contact:

Carol Lavoie Schuster
Vice President for Programs and Nonprofit Services
Essex County Community Foundation
175 Andover Street, Suite 101, Danvers, MA 01923
978-777-8876 x133
cell: 617-308-2722 (only between business hours)
c.lavoieschuster@eccf.org

APPLICATION PORTAL

2023 IMPORTANT DATES

2023-2024 cycle now open

VIRTUAL INFO SESSIONS

Tuesday December 5, 2023, 9AM
Thursday December 14, 2023, 2PM

See Timeline in Guidelines for Zoom links. No registration required.

LOI DEADLINE

Jan 15, 2024

SITE VISIT INVITATIONS

February 2024

GRANTS AWARDED BY

End of May 2024

GRANT RANGE

$25,000 – $200,000

GEOGRAPHIC LIMITATIONS

Preference will be given to  organizations based in Andover, Lawrence and North Andover. However, applicants based outside of the area will be allowed on two conditions (more detail can be found in eligibility section.)

FINAL REPORT FORMS

Final reports should be submitted through the Application Portal.

get in touch

Carol Lavoie Schuster

Carol Lavoie Schuster

Vice President for Grants, Nonprofit & Donor Services
(978) 777-8876 x133
c.lavoieschuster@eccf.org

how can we help?

We would love to hear from you.

ECCF Logo in White Overlay

GET IN TOUCH

  1. 175 Andover Street, Suite 101
    Danvers, Massachusetts 01923