Responsive Grant - Education


The responsive grant process enables Cullen Foundation to gain a better understanding of applicant organizations and learn about the needs of the individuals served. Ultimately the process results in investments in strong education organizations aligned with our stated mission and focus areas. 

In Education, we seek applications from organizations offering out-of-school-time and/or in-school academic programming. All programs should have direct academic outcomes, be evidence-based, and primarily serve economically disadvantaged students. Programs must support students from multiple schools. 

The responsive grant process is competitive and not all applications are funded. We screen and make declinations through the Letter of Intent (LOI). The fiscal health, sustainability, and impact of the applicant organization are important factors in our decision-making.



Cullen Foundation has the following eligibility criteria for all applicants:

  • The organization is a 501(c)(3).
  • The organization MUST submit audited or reviewed financials prepared by a CPA for its most recently completed fiscal year. This is Cullen's requirement and is not related to NYS requirements. (Click here for more information on types/levels of financial reviews - this link will take you to a brochure on the website of the American Institute of CPAs)
  • Erie County is our primary geographic service area. Education applicants not located in Erie County must serve at least 80% Erie County residents.
  • No funding received will be used for partisan political activity.
  • No funding received will be used for expenses already incurred.
  • No funding will overlap with an existing grant from the Cullen Foundation.
  • The request must fit within Cullen Foundation’s education focus area (evidence-based programs with direct academic outcomes, serving economically disadvantaged students in grades pre-K through 12; and requests for the following will not be considered:
    • Recreational camps or recreation-based programs
    • Internship programs
    • Education resource rooms and drop-in centers 
    • Museum exhibits
    • Professional development programs and services
    • Field trip funds and programs
    • Skills and job training programs
    • Transportation requests
    • Arts education programs 
    • Requests from Individual schools 
    • Request for programs that serve students from only one school
    • Individual scholarships will not be awarded other than those provided by the Cullen Scholars program. (For more information on the Cullen Scholars program, click here)


Types of Support

Cullen Foundation has established the following types of support for responsive grants in the education focus area:

  • Program/project support 
  • Capital/physical infrastructure


Funding Range

An organization may apply for 1, 2 or 3 years of funding, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per year (for a $300,000 total maximum). Receiving the maximum $100,000/year request amount is rare and occurs only when the Foundation deems unique strategic alignment between Cullen Foundation's mission and the program's outcomes. Multi-year grants are made only when the Foundation believes the multi-year nature of the request is essential to the project's success.


Key Deadlines

Cullen Foundation runs two open grant cycles each year. The winter responsive grant cycle begins in January and the summer responsive grant cycle begins in July. Scroll below to join our mailing list. This will notify you of the deadlines for upcoming grant cycles.

January 1, 2020: Letter of Intent (LOI) stage opens. LOI's are accepted on a rolling basis between January 1st and January 24th. Once an LOI is approved, the applicant may proceed to the Full Application phase. Cullen Foundation strongly encourages early submissions so that each request may receive adequate time for review.

January 1 - 17, 2020: All applicants must schedule a phone call with Cullen staff prior to submitting an LOI. This phone call will indicate your organization's intent to apply and provide an overview of the program for which you are applying.

January 24, 2020: LOI phase closes at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Applicants will be notified within 1 week whether they advance to the Full Application phase.

February 21, 2020: Deadline for full applications at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Early submissions are strongly encouraged.

April 2020: Cullen Foundation will notify applicants of grant decisions.

June 2020: Payment will be distributed to grantees.


Application Checklist

  • Contact Cullen staff before you submit an LOI to discuss the program/project for which you’re seeking funding. This step is mandatory.
  • Gather information you will need to complete the LOI, including the required financial statements
  • Prepare the LOI carefully; submit the LOI before the deadline.
  • If the LOIs is approved, gather the information you will need to complete the application; prepare the application carefully; submit the application before the deadline
  • Respond to Cullen’s request for scheduling an Application Review Process meeting. Arrange for the appropriate people from your organization to attend this meeting.