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Community Engagement Manager
Carolyn Desrosiers


[email protected]

Bright Idea Fund Bridge Grants

What We Fund

The COVID – 19 health and economic crisis is threatening the ability of many nonprofit organizations in the Fox Valley Region to fulfill their missions. In response, the Community Foundation has temporarily suspended its Bright Idea Forum grants program and redirected unrestricted grant dollars to a temporary grant program to serve as a financial “bridge” during this difficult time. We are reintroducing and expanding a Bridge grants program that the Foundation originally launched in 2009 following the recession.
Our fiscal year 2020-21 Bridge grants program will provide general operating support to qualifying charitable organizations which, due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, need temporary funding to help maintain programs necessary to their core mission.


  • Applicants are established 501(c)(3) charitable organizations that can provide compelling evidence of an urgent or impending financial need caused by the COVID – 19 crisis and are able to demonstrate prior financial health and high potential for future stability.
  • Applicants must serve residents in the Community Foundation’s service region, which includes Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca and the Neenah and Menasha area of Winnebago counties. Educational institutions, government programs or entities, religious organizations, programs and offices within an organization, and organizations with a fiscal sponsor are not eligible to apply.

Proposal Criteria

The strongest proposals will be those that make a compelling case based on the following criteria:

  • Documents an urgent or impending financial need caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Contributes to the quality of life in the Fox Valley region and provides a service not readily available from other charitable organizations or private sources.
  • Was previously successful and stable.
  • Demonstrates the potential for re-establishing financial stability with the help of a grant.
  • Has used creative problem-solving to weather the crisis thus far.
  • Demonstrates that both the Executive Director and the Board of Directors have been active in finding solutions during this period of difficulty.

Range of Grantmaking

  • Eligible organizations are invited to apply for up to $25,000 in general operating support. Applicants will be asked to document their entire financial need even if it exceeds $25,000.
  • Multiple organizations seeking to collaborate or merge for reasons of efficiency may be eligible for additional funding. Multiple organizations considering applying should contact Carolyn Desrosiers ([email protected]), or call 920.702.7625 before completing an application.
  • With the applicant’s permission, proposals will be made available to donors with funds within the Foundation and other local funders if unmet need exists beyond the grant award.

Application Deadline and Review

Applications will be accepted year-round with a rolling deadline and reviewed on a monthly basis.

What We Don’t Fund

  • Endowment-building.
  • Organizations that do not have a high potential for future stability regardless of this support.
  • Organizations that faced significant financial need prior to the COVID-19 crisis that started in March 2020.
  • Organizations that have sufficient resources to weather the crisis (significant endowments or reserves).

To Apply

  1. Review the Foundation’s general grant policies to ensure eligibility, in addition to the eligibility criteria outlined on this page.
  2. Schedule a virtual office appointment, Email Carolyn Desrosiers ([email protected]), or call 920.702.7625. to discuss your application. If eligible, your will be given the application password to begin an application in the grant portal. The application is password-protected to prevent organizations that are not eligible from investing valuable time completing the application only to learn they will not be considered.
  3. Once you are registered for the grant portal and have been given the password to begin your application, you will find it under the “Grant Applicant” tab, “Available Grants” then search for “Bright Idea Fund Bridge Grant.”


Schedule a virtual office appointment, email Carolyn Desrosiers or call 920.702.7625.