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 Supplemental Academic Programs (SAP). All programs should have direct academic outcomes, be evidence-based, and primarily serve economically disadvantaged students. Programs must support students from multiple schools. 

Starting in Summer 2020, education responsive grants will align with the ESSA tiers of evidence; the stronger the evidence supporting a program’s effectiveness, the larger the funding pool available to that program. These grants will be aligned with four stages of funding with the goal of moving as many programs as possible through the tiers as they build capacity. Click below for more information on these stages and corresponding funding.




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)
  • 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*
  • Capacity building

*If/when a Cullen grant funds less than the total cost of a capital item or project, Cullen’s funds will not be released until the Grantee has in-hand all funds needed to purchase the equipment or complete the capital project.

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

As part of our new strategic plan for Supplemental Academic Programs, the Summer 2023 grant cycle will focus on Education Capacity Building. Education grants will align with the ESSA tiers of evidence. Cullen staff will help you assess the stage in which your program currently fits and which grant round might be appropriate. For more information, please contact Corey Bunje Bower at [email protected].

January 1, 2024: Letter of Intent (LOI) stage opens. LOI's are accepted on a rolling basis between January 1st and January 26th. 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, 2024- January 12, 2024: 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 26, 2024: LOI phase closes at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Applicants will be notified within 1 week whether they advance to the Full Application phase. 

March 1,  2024: Deadline for full applications at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Early submissions are strongly encouraged. 

April 2024: Cullen Foundation will notify applicants of grant decisions.

June 2024: Payment will be distributed to grantees.