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

Durfee is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We seek organizations whose mission, values, and staff are rooted in and reflect the communities they serve. We encourage applications from organizations that work with historically marginalized communities, including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQ, and low-income, among others.

Review Criteria

Please consider the grant criteria below carefully to determine whether your mission, organization, and timing are a good fit.

It is especially important to determine if the timing is right for you to apply – far enough along to be past the idea stage, but still in need of the endorsement of start-up funding.

Declined applicants may reapply, but only once.  A phone call is required in advance of a second application.

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 community-centered mission?
  • 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 and does the leadership reflect the community?
  • 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 a creative 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, free-standing organization?
  • Does the program bring together community in unexpected ways, across issue areas or geography, for example?
  • Is the organization at a point in their timeline where Durfee’s support could have a significant leveraging effect?
  • Is the business model viable beyond Durfee’s support? Are there other likely revenue sources?

Please make sure you’ve read the program goals, review criteria and FAQ (frequently asked questions) before applying. We strongly encourage you to call the Durfee office or email to discuss a prospective application before applying.

Updated March 2023

Program Timeline

Spring Application Cycle

Application Open: March 13, 2024

Application Deadline: May 16, 2024

Fall Application Cycle

Application Open: July 10, 2024

Application Deadline: September 12, 2024


View Sample Application

(Have you read the review criteria and FAQs?)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you define “community-centered organizations”?

These are organizations whose mission, values, and staff are rooted in and reflect the communities they work with. Durfee is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and therefore highly encourages organizations to apply that work with historically marginalized communities, including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQ, low-income communities, etc.

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

By “creative,” we mean new, and likely untested, strategies to make positive change. Although providing needed services where they do not exist is important, this approach does not usually fit the Springboard criteria for creativity. We are also especially interested in projects that bring together different communities while addressing an issue in LA County with a surprising, unique twist that pulls from various disciplines, issue areas, and interests.

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?

All declined applicants may apply one more time; however, applicants who are applying for a second time are required to have a phone call with Durfee staff prior to reapplying.

Applicants are not allowed to apply again after a second decline.

How do I know if the timing is right to apply?

Durfee is looking for organizations that are far enough along to be past the idea stage, but still in need of the endorsement of start-up funding to “springboard” the organization to the next level.Applicants must have programming underway, and also have clearly delineated leadership (a small team of staff/volunteers and a board or advisory network). They may be a 501c3 entity or be operating under fiscal sponsorship. In all cases, they must be at an inflection point at which Durfee’s start-up funding would accelerate early growth. We are looking for new ventures that have not yet secured major funding, hoping that Durfee’s early endorsement might open other doors. In fact, receipt of significant public sector support and/or multiple grants from foundations larger than Durfee may indicate to the review panel that Durfee’s support might not be merited, given the foundation’s very modest resources. Please contact Durfee if you have any questions.

Our program has existed for more than 5 years, but recently became a 501(c)3. Do I qualify?

To qualify for Springboard, the organization’s operations must have begun less than 5 years ago. For Springboard criteria, any changes in the organization’s structure or status (i.e. becoming a 501(c)3, change in fiscal sponsors, becoming a B-corp) does not change the starting year of an organization’s operations.

What information should I include in the annual budget?

The organization’s annual budget should include all actual revenues and expenses of the organization’s current fiscal year. An organization may include pro-bono support pending grant requests, but those must be clearly delineated from cash.

Why do you ask for an annual budget?

To qualify for Springboard, your organization must have a current annual budget of less than $250,000.

Durfee looks at an annual budget to learn what resources the organization has, how they are being allocated, and where the funding is coming from. We also look at if the organization has secured major funding at a significant level so we better understand whether it is the right timing for the organization to apply.

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 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 facilitates introductions and conversations between Springboard organizations and a select group of these leaders who share experience that might be useful to the Springboard partner. Based on these conversations, the Springboard organization will choose a good mentor for them during the two years of the Springboard grant.

The mentor offers a sounding board for the organization’s leadership about organizational-level decisions. Organizations are allocated a total of 100 hours of mentorship during the two-year grant period. Durfee pays the mentors for their valuable time.

Our organization 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.

Can I hire a grant writer to complete an application on behalf of our organization?

Applicants that have fared well in the past are the ones that are written by the founder. What makes a strong application is including the founder’s perspective.

If you are uncertain, we encourage you to reach out to us at to schedule a call. We’d be happy to speak with you. We understand that the timing for a Springboard application can be tricky.

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