skip mobile navigation
Aa Aa Aa

Bright Idea Fund

Information for Grantseekers

This permanent fund seeks to fulfill community needs and advance well-being for all in in Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago counties.

Our Bright Idea Fund combines dollars from generous donors who believe in giving in ways that address ever-changing community needs together. (Want to join them? Learn how.)

The Foundation awards grants from the fund through application and review processes that align with focus areas, using the help of community volunteers representing diverse professional, personal and community backgrounds. We are informed by community-based data found in research such as the Imagine Fox Cities survey and community vision and the Fox Cities LIFE Study, as well as the voices of our non-profit partners.

A new approach to new challenges

The COVID – 19 health and economic crisis has greatly impacted people in the Fox Valley region and its affects will remain for years to come. The Community Foundation remains committed to the well-being and strength of both the community and the many local nonprofits doing critical work. Our nonprofit partners are on the frontlines providing essential services, addressing emerging needs, and keeping us connected to the things that make us feel human. At the same time, many nonprofits are facing significant revenue loss, operational interruption, and staff/volunteer capacity limitations. We intend to help.

As we consider how to pivot our Bright Idea Fund approach to best meet the needs of the community and support our partners, we are influenced by the COVID-19 Effect on Wisconsin’s Nonprofit Sector report, the Council on Foundations Call to Action for Philanthropy and many personal conversations with local nonprofit leaders.

For fiscal year 2021, ending June 30, 2021, the Bright Idea Fund will be focused on positioning nonprofits to successfully sustain and respond to their mission demands during this challenging time by providing three types of grants:

1. Planning grants for scenario planning, business continuity planning & training/strategy work to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within organizations

2. Bridge grants to help organizations stabilize financially through targeted general operating support

3. Spark grants to support the creative problem-solving approaches and innovative thinking developing as a result of COVID – 19

More than one grant may be considered to the same organization during the fiscal year.

Focus Areas and Priorities

For fiscal year 2021, we will continue to support organizations working within focus areas of: Arts & Culture, Basic Needs & Self-Sufficiency, Community Development, Environment, and Nonprofit Effectiveness. (See our current fiscal year 2019-2020 grant recipients.) However, we are temporarily removing previously stated priorities to allow for greater flexibility.

Instead, our grantmaking will be guided by the following values:

1. Respect: We treat the people and organizations with whom we work with dignity and respect, and as partners in our shared goal to improve individual and community well-being.

2. Integrity: We steward resources responsibly, make thoughtful and transparent decisions, and we keep our promises and commitments.

3. Teamwork: We serve our community best when we solve problems together, share resources, and listen to one another, especially to those with lived experience.

4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: We are committed to appreciating and engaging diverse voices, removing barriers to opportunity, and eliminating disparities so that all people may thrive.

5. Creativity: We embrace new ways of thinking, strive to take risks, and we encourage and support visionary ideas.

To Apply

STEP 1: Eligibility

Are you a charitable organization? If not, do you have a fiscal sponsor?

Do you serve people in the Foundation’s geographic service area? Does your proposal meet the Foundation’s grant policies?

Is your organization working in the areas of Arts & Culture, Basic Needs & Self-Sufficiency, Community Development, Environment, and Nonprofit Effectiveness?

If you answered NO to any of these questions, STOP:


Explore other funds at the Community Foundation
or from other community funders.

STEP 2: Which path do you take?

If you answered YES to all of these questions above, consider which Bright Idea Fund option(s) best fit your needs by reviewing the specific guidelines for each grant type:

Want to see what the Bright Idea Fund has funded in past years? Check out our past grant results:

FY2019-2020 | FY2018-2019 | FY2017-2018

News for Grantseekers! 

If you’re seeking a grant, stay informed by subscribing our new monthly e-blast, and be sure to share with a friend!