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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 new and ongoing for programs that focus on the core areas of Basic Needs & Hardship Assistance, Economic & Workforce Development, Safety, STEM and Energy Education and Environmental Stewardship (see specific definitions below).
New in 2021-2022:
For the 2021-2022 grant cycle, the Fund process will adapt in the following ways:
- Applicants will be asked to submit a Letter of Interest (LOI). Fund Advisors will review LOI’s in the fall of 2021 and expect to invite a narrowed field to submit applications in December 2021. Site visits and applications will be conducted and reviewed over the winter and final determinations are expected to be made no later than April 15.
- In support of the community and to acknowledge the need for capacity support, the Fund will offer two free grantwriting courses in the summer of 2021 to any organization that is qualified to apply to the Fund.
Applications are welcome from:
- 501(c)(3) organizations*
- Collaborations of two or more 501(c)(3) organizations
- Note: New in 2021-2022, 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.
Grant requests must be consistent with the purpose of the program and could include requests for existing programs that address continued need, new programs or collaborative efforts in the following areas and sub-categories:
- 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 per year. These grants are designed to be a one-time, one-year grant for project funding within the next 12 months.
This Fund will prioritize:
- New and innovative proposals that scale existing work in new ways or develop new initiatives
- Programs and organizations that support individuals and families directly impacted by the September 2018 Columbia Gas Incident.
- Cross-organization and cross-sector collaboration.
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
- To support academic research
ECCF will conduct two information webinars about the 2021-2022 cycle during the summer of 2021.
Topic: NiSource Fund for MV – 2021/2022 Info Session #1
Time: Jul 28, 2021 1:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 849 7057 3449
Topic: NiSource Fund for MV – 2021/2022 Info Session #2
Time: August 11, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 879 0909 4922
At the direction of the Fund Advisors, ECCF will host two grantwriting webinars for qualified applicants during the summer of 2021. Dates announced ASAP.
LOI’s must be submitted online by no later than Friday September 17 at 5 PM. Late LOI’s will not be accepted.
For agencies who are invited to apply based on their LOI approval, the applications will be due Monday December 6 at 5 PM. Late applications will not be accepted.
The goal of the Fund is to make final determinations by mid-April 2022; however, the Fund reserves the right to revise the timetable should it be necessary.
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 mid-April 2022.
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 or to schedule a site visit 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 the application submission 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.
Grantees of the NiSource Charitable Foundation Fund for Merrimack Valley must submit an interim (6 months) and a final report at the close of the grant.
September 17 at 5PM
December 6 at 5PM
GRANTS AWARDED BY
$25,000 – $200,000
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 (more detail can be found in eligibility section.)
FINAL REPORT FORMS
Final reports should be submitted through the Application Portal.
nonprofits & grants
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Carol Lavoie Schuster
Vice President for Grants, Nonprofit & Donor Services
(978) 777-8876 x133
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