How to Apply


Organizations eligible to apply must:
  • Be an outstanding organization with a demonstrated track record of community leadership
  • Be located in and work in Los Angeles County
  • Be a nonprofit organization, or operate under fiscal sponsorship (government agencies and educational institutions are not eligible)
  • Have at least 3 full-time paid staff
  • Have been in operation for at least 5 years
  • Have a budget under approximately $2 million
  • Have a strong commitment to improving the organization’s culture of collective care
  • Not be a current participant in Durfee’s Sabbatical, Stanton or Springboard programs

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 communities, among others.

Questions? Please contact Durfee at

Review Criteria

Applications for the Lark Awards will be reviewed by a panel composed of peer leaders, program alumni, and Durfee staff.  The panel will consider and score each application through the three categories and questions below.

Finalists will be invited to a one-hour site visit and interview with panelists and Durfee staff. The panel will select the 15 organizations based on these conversations. Declined finalists will receive a stipend to compensate the organization for their time and effort. Panelists will also be provided honorariums.

Culture & Values
  • Does the organization foster a culture of care, respect, and equity, both internally with its staff and externally with the community it works with?
  • Regardless of scale, does the organization currently have any staff wellness programs, including even small, informal ways of showing care and appreciation for the staff?
  • Is there a strong sense of teamwork, collaboration, and community within the organization’s staff?
Community Leadership 
  • Is the organization recognized as a leader in the community it works with?
  • Are the staff and board reflective of the communities they work with?
  • Will the investment in the collective care of the staff have broader reverberations in the organization’s programs and the community it works with?
Organizational Readiness
  • Is the organization structurally and financially poised to take advantage of this opportunity?
  • Is the organization’s board and/or leadership supportive?
  • What is the level of urgency for the Lark Awards in this moment?
  • Is the organization comfortable with a more collective and staff-driven decision-making process to determine the grant uses?

Program Timeline

2024 Lark Awards Timeline

Application Opens: April 3, 2024

Application Deadline: July 10, 2024

Finalist Site Visits: September 16 – October 4, 2024

2024 Lark Awards Orientation: *NEW* November 22, 2024

For any inquiries, please reach out to


View Sample Application

(Have you read the review criteria and FAQs?)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Durfee Foundation establishing the Lark Awards?

We believe that people are at the center of change. We believe that it is in our collective best interest to take care of the people who are doing this important community-centered work, and that everyone deserves to rest.

What does Durfee hope to accomplish through the Lark Awards?

In addition to restoring the energy and health of nonprofit teams, Durfee hopes to spark change in both nonprofit and philanthropic culture, to encourage more investment in the people who are making change.

What makes a strong application and responses?

We want to know your organization. Please share your answers to the questions in however many or few words you need. Applications will not be judged based on spelling, grammar, length, or writing styles.

What makes a strong video response?

Videos should be no longer than approximately 3 minutes. Similar to written responses, we are more interested in your organization and responses than technical skills. Video responses will not be judged based on production quality or editing skills. Past selected partners have submitted edited Zoom recordings and simple phone videos. Videos can include multiple staff members or a single representative. It’s up to you!

How does Durfee define 'collective care' and 'staff wellness'?

Durfee trusts organizations to have their own definitions of care and wellness based on their staff’s collective needs and interests. However, we do feel that wellness is distinct from professional development, because wellness focuses on rest, renewal, and the cultivation of a healthier work-life balance. We invite an expansive and exploratory approach to this work.

What are some examples of how we might use the Lark Awards?

The funds can be used for staff-wide activities, individual uses, or both. Durfee does not need to approve the activities, as long as they are determined by the staff and used solely for wellness. Past Lark partners have used the funds for weekly wellness activities or outings, break room improvements, “no-work” retreats, paid mental health days, and individual stipends. However, we encourage each organization to choose what is relevant to your staff, (re)discover wellness practices, innovate, and experiment!

How should our organization decide how to use the funds?

As part of the grant period, each organization will determine the best way to use the funds. The program includes a wellness coach who can offer guidance and facilitation support as needed. We are looking for organizations that have experience with or are open to collective decision-making processes that include meaningful input from staff.

Can we use the Lark Award to increase salaries, strategic planning, general operations, or an executive transition?

While we recognize these are important, the Lark Awards is intended solely for the care and wellness of staff.

Why are organizations only eligible if they have a budget under approximately $2 million?

The Lark Awards were created in response to a need to support smaller nonprofit organizations, whose staff often experience high levels of burnout and exhaustion due to limited resources. We encourage larger organizations to review our Sabbatical program for other ways to support the individual leaders within your organization.

Are organizations able to receive the Lark Award more than once?

Unfortunately, Lark is a one-time award and not renewable. Durfee is a small foundation and seeks to share its modest resources with as many organizations as possible. We hope that the program acts as a catalyst and supports continued wellness work after the grant period. Alumni will also be invited to annual convenings for wellness check-ins and further inspiration.

What kinds of organizations are you looking for?

We welcome applications from community-centered organizations from a diverse range of fields, including but not limited to advocacy, art and culture, education, environment, health, social justice, etc. We will prioritize organizations whose staff work directly with the communities they work with, and therefore, are most in need of immediate wellness support.

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.

My organization is a chapter of a larger organization. Are we eligible?

We would encourage you to call the foundation to discuss this further. Generally, the Lark Awards are focused on small, freestanding nonprofits that do not operate under the umbrella of a larger entity.

Our staff is all-volunteer. Are we eligible?

Unfortunately, no. In order to apply, the organization must have at least three full-time paid staff employed by the organization.

We are currently in the middle of changing our leadership structure. Is this a good time for the organization to receive this support?

If your organization is going through an active leadership transition, please contact us to schedule a call and discuss further.

Is there a tax liability associated with this award?

Durfee Lark Awards funds are issued to nonprofit organizations to support staff’s collective care and renewal. Under the IRS code, these funds are considered charitable support to organizations. However, there may be additional tax liabilities that organizations and employees should be aware of. The Durfee Foundation is not able to provide tax advice but here is some information and resources to help you navigate potential issues.

All or part of the Lark Award funds can be earmarked for individual use. Depending on the amount and the method of distribution, a personal tax liability could exist for staff members. If there is a liability, the amount will depend on individuals’ regular income tax rates.

Notably, “de minimis” (minimal) benefits qualify for exclusion from employee wages. The IRS has previously ruled that de minimis benefits are items with values of less than $100 that are not provided regularly. Another exemption may be medical expenses under section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code, for which organizations can provide reimbursements. We advise you to seek the advice of your organization’s accountant before disbursing the funds.

For more information, we recommend visiting IRS Publication 15-B and De Minimis Fringe Benefits pages.

For a list of medical expenses under IRS Section 213, we suggest visiting the following page.

Additionally, for a briefer summary of fringe benefits and their tax implications, we suggest visiting the following guide. However, these are not official government pages, therefore we cannot confirm the pages’ accuracy.

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