Berrien Community Foundation
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Acorn Guidelines & How to Apply



The Berrien Community Foundation usually has two grant programs each year. Our own grant program for organizations (501 (c)(3) or unit of government) providing programs in Berrien County is described first on this web page. Steps on how to start the application process are provided.


We also administer the Heart of Cook Foundation Fund grant program. This is a year by year commitment by the Cook Nuclear Plant.

Scroll down to the logo for current information about this program.

Applications for 2014 were due February 4. Notice about decisions will be provided in early April

with grants distributed to those awarded at a reception in May.


Berrien Community Foundation Grant Guidelines-Berrien County Only

Next Grant Application Deadline is

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Email for more information on this application process (see below for details)



The due date for fall grant applications is Wednesday, August 27, 2014. Application deadline dates are firm. All applications must be postmarked by a post office or hand delivered to the Berrien Community Foundation offices by 5 p.m. on the dates listed to be accepted for that cycle. No electronic versions will be accepted.


Again, in 2014, the due date is Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

How to Start the Application Process


Before we are able to release the grant application and guidelines,

we ask an organization to email the following to

·        FEIN Number

·        Status (e.g., 501(c)(3) or unit of government) and year status obtained, if 501(c)(3).

·        For 501(c)(3)s, Solicitation Registration. If exempt from this requirement, letter from the Attorney General’s Office stating this.

·        Description of proposed project/program and amount requested

Once Foundation staff have reviewed this information, we will then email back regarding whether or not we are able to release the grant application and guidelines.

We need to ensure that the organization making the request is meeting the requirements described below and addressing the Foundation's focus areas and funding priorities before releasing the grant application and guidelines. Thank you for appreciating our due diligence requirements as stewards of donor dollars entrusted to the Foundation.

If the proposed program/project meets the requirements listed below and addresses the Foundation's focus areas and funding priorities, the most recent grant application form and guidelines will be emailed to the organization.


Status:  501(c)(3), school or unit of government


501(c)(3) Status:  For 501(c)(3) organizations, the 501(c)(3) status must be at least a year old as of August 27, 2014 for an application to be considered.


Solicitation Registration Status Also for 501(c)(3)s, the Solicitation Registration must be current as of August 27, 2014 and valid through December 31, 2014 or an exempt letter from the Attorney General’s office provided for the application to be considered.


Previous Grants:  IMPORTANT NOTE FOR 2014 FALL GRANT CYCLE (Building a Spirit/Arts & Culture, Nurturing Our Children, Youth Leadership & Development, Other--does not apply to the Golden Acorn Classroom Mini-Grant program):  Those organizations that received funding in each of the Fall 2011, 2012, and 2013 grant cycles (i.e., using the fall grant application and funding received 3 years in a row) are not eligible to apply for the Fall 2014 cycle. The Foundation’s goal in having this restriction is to make its grant dollars available to a variety of organizations in Berrien County each year.


Focus Areas:  Trustees and volunteers of the Berrien Community Foundation review grant applications from nonprofit 501(c)(3) and other organizations (i.e., units of government) serving Berrien County residents, giving preference to programs that support our mission to enhance the quality of life for Berrien County residents by:

Building a Spirit of Community/Arts & Culture

¨  Promoting access to services and information (e.g., to encourage healthful living seniors)

¨  Developing and planning for our communities

¨  Encouraging community cohesiveness via arts and cultural events

¨  Promoting various activities that encourage diversity and inclusion


Nurturing Our Children

¨  Parent support & education

¨  Quality childcare

¨  Positive activities for families & children

¨  Community support & involvement/mentoring

¨  Drug abuse/prevention & awareness


Encouraging Youth Leadership and Development through

¨  Teen sex/pregnancy prevention

¨  Positive decision-making skills, including violence and conflict resolution

¨  Substance abuse prevention/awareness

¨  Positive entertainment and recreation for youth

¨  Encouragement of positive peer pressure

¨  Healthful living, including smoking prevention and cessation and access to dental care

In addition to the three primary focus areas listed in these guidelines, the Foundation will consider grant requests in many different areas such as, but not limited to:  healthful living for seniors, historic preservation, housing and homeless support, lifelong learning, and public protection.


Additional Funding Information:   Because our resources are limited, the Foundation cannot respond with grant support to all worthwhile programs/projects. Grant requests should not exceed $10,000 and are for one year only as the Foundation does not provide multi-year funding. An organization may submit only one application per given cycle (i.e., one for August 27) for one program per organization.

The Foundation is very interested in providing funding for programs for established nonprofits (i.e., at least 1 year in existence as 501(c)(3)s) or equivalents (i.e., units of government) that address our focus areas, with the understanding that other sources of funding will be available to sustain the programs into the future, especially for new programs. Therefore, higher priority is given to requests that demonstrate community-based collaborative solutions likely to stay in place after Foundation funding concludes.

Very low priority is given to requests for bricks and mortar, annual fund drives, or equipment. Very low priority is also given to advertising and capital campaigns. Grants are not provided to cover operating, deficits or other previously incurred obligations. Grants are not made for sectarian religious purposes, national fundraising efforts, political organizations or campaigns. Grants are also not made to individuals, and form letters/emails are neither reviewed nor acknowledged.

Advisory committee members carefully evaluate grant applications and present recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees determines which applications will receive funding based on these recommendations. Therefore, Foundation staff cannot assess applicants’ chances for approval. Staff also are unable to be involved in the preparation of the grant applications and to review drafts. Staff does review applications for completeness after they are received and will email applicants for missing materials. Applicants are notified in writing shortly following the Trustees’ decision after the October Board meeting.

Please contact Sandra Tardi, CPA, Finance/Program Director, 269-983-3304, ext. 3 or, for more additional questions



     Next Grant Application Deadline is

      Wednesday, August 27, 2014


The Heart of Cook Foundation Fund


“The Heart of Cook” is a grant program administered by the Berrien Community Foundation targeted to assist educational, human services, and environmental nonprofit projects in Southwest Michigan and Northwest Indiana (La Porte, St. Joseph, and Elkhart Counties).


The grant application deadline was February 4, 2014.

Applying organizations will be notified of the decisions by mail in early April.

For those organizations receiving grants, these will be provided at a May reception.  



(l to r) Joseph Antony, Mini Kuruvilla, and Randy Perkins of Living Epistle Fellowship

with Larry Weber, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer (r) at the 2013 Heart of Cook Reception


Berrien Community Foundation
2900 South State Street, Suite 2 East
St. Joseph, MI 49085
Phone: 269.983.3304
Fax: 269.983.4939
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