How to Apply

Springboard Fund


Organizations eligible to apply must:
  • Be located in and serve Los Angeles County with a social benefit mission
  • Focus on applying an inventive strategy to a community issue
  • Have dynamic and effective leadership that comes from the community it serves
  • Engage multiple stakeholders — people, communities, organizations — for input and accountability
  • Have a program that is already underway
  • Be in operation for less than five years
  • Have a feasible action plan to animate a big idea through identifiable, concrete steps
  • Be at a critical developmental stage so that Springboard funding can be at a tipping point for success
  • Have an annual budget of $250,000 or less

Review Criteria

Each Springboard application will be considered in light of these questions:

Basic Eligibility
  • Is the organization based in and does it serve Los Angeles County?
  • Does it have a social benefit mission that serves LA residents?
  • Has it been in operation for less than 5 years?
  • Are its programs underway, and past the idea stage?
  • Does it have a current operating budget of less than $250,000?
  • Is the organization’s leadership deeply rooted in the community it serves?
  • Does the applicant have appropriate background/experience to accomplish the organization’s mission?
  • Are there multiple stakeholders invested in the work?
  • Are the organization’s mission and goals clear?
  • Does the organization offer an innovative response to a community need?
  • Are there other programs delivering similar services in the region? Is the applicant aware of them?  Does the applicant make a strong case for why there is a need for a new organization?
  • Does the program bring together community in unexpected ways, across issue areas or geography, for example?
  • Does the organization need Durfee support to become established?
  • Will Durfee funds have a significant leveraging effect?
  • Is the business model viable beyond Durfee’s support? Are there other likely revenue sources?

The Springboard Fund review process is highly selective and favors only those projects that show promise of long-term viability. Please consider the grant criteria above carefully to ascertain whether your idea and organization are a good fit. Also, please make sure you’ve reviewed the program goals, review criteria and FAQ (frequently asked questions) before applying. Feel free to call the Durfee office or email to discuss a prospective application before applying.

Declined applicants may not re-apply.

Program Timeline

Application Deadlines

February 1, 2023

Deadline for the next application cycle will be posted in March 2023


View Sample Application

(Have you read the review criteria and FAQs?)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a social benefit organization?

A social benefit organization is one whose mission focuses on public good, rather than profit. It might take the form of a 501c3 nonprofit or another structure.

The guidelines say that Durfee is looking for groups that are “applying an inventive strategy to a community issue.” Does that mean that what we are doing must be completely new and original?

While it is difficult to define “inventive,” we are seeking new, and likely untested, strategies to make positive change. Providing needed services where they do not exist is important, but does not necessarily fit the Springboard criteria. We are especially interested in projects that bring together different communities.

What process does the Durfee Foundation go through to make the grants?

Applications are accepted three times per year. Upon receipt of the application form, Durfee staff will determine whether the proposed project meets the program guidelines no more than four weeks after the deadline. If an application moves beyond the initial screening, the applicant will receive a call from foundation staff to gather additional information. The next step is a site visit to the organization, and then the foundation’s Board of Trustees makes a final determination on the grant. The board meets three times per year, so the full review can take up to four months.

I was declined, may I apply again?

Unfortunately, no. Springboard will not accept new applications from a previous applicant.

What is the size of the grant?

Springboard grants are $70,000 over two years, typically payable in two installments of $35,000 each. The organization must submit a satisfactory progress report before receiving the second year’s installment.

What do organizations use the grant dollars for?

Springboard grants are unrestricted general support grants that the recipient uses as it best sees fit. Grantees are typically at a critical developmental stage and use the Springboard funds strategically to take their work to the next level. For example, they may be used to rent a first office, pay a salary supplement to allow a staff person to devote more time to the organization, hire a grant writer, create a web site or buy needed equipment.

How many grants are made each year?

Approximately three to four per year. We recognize that it is exceptionally difficult to launch a new organization. For this reason, the Springboard Fund review process is highly selective, and will favor projects that show promise of long-term viability.

How does the mentoring part of the grant program work?

Through its Sabbatical and Stanton programs, the Durfee Foundation works with some of the most highly regarded leaders in Los Angeles County. Durfee pairs Springboard grant recipients with one of these seasoned leaders as a mentor to offer guidance and advice based on their years of running successful organizations. Springboard grantees have 100 hours of access to their mentors during the two-year grant period.

Our community group seems to fit your guidelines, but we have never received a grant before. Are we eligible?

Yes, organizations that have not received prior institutional funding are encouraged to apply.

I am the director of a new, community-based venture that is a project of a larger institution. I know that my employing organization is not eligible for Springboard Fund support, but can we apply for support just for the project’s start-up?

No. Springboard Fund support is reserved exclusively for new, free-standing ventures.

Why does Springboard look for organizations with leadership that comes from the community they serve?

We have found that the programs with the greatest likelihood of success are developed by leaders who have deep experience with their target community. Luz Rivas, founder of DIY Girls, grew up in Pacoima where she launched her program at the elementary school she attended. Rick Nahmias founded Food Forward in the San Fernando Valley where he lives. Durfee receives many applications from well-meaning people who have an idea for a program that they believe will improve the quality of life for others. Often, the applicants do not have direct experience with the community they wish to serve, but believe that since so many areas are under-resourced, their program will be useful. That may be true, but Durfee believes that the most relevant programs arise from within the community rather than being imported from outside.

I’m interested in starting a nonprofit, but don’t know how. Can I apply for a Springboard grant for help with that?

No. Springboard is for endeavors that have already been launched. Starting a nonprofit is a challenging task that requires several legal steps. For guidance, we recommend Calnonprofits as a valuable resource.

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