The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation’s signature fundraising event, the Sonoma County Wine Auction, has raised over $39 million for local causes, helping to address Sonoma County’s most pressing needs, and fostering both immediate and long-term change.
The Foundation cultivates a vibrant and diverse Sonoma County through charitable giving focused on improving education, health & human services, the environment, and arts & culture. The Foundation’s annual Community Grants Program ensures that nonprofit organizations working across Sonoma County have the opportunity to apply for funding in these four areas of impact.
The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation is pleased to continue our commitment to four program areas: Health and Human Services, Education, Environment, and Arts and Culture. Please see the table below for each program area’s funding priorities for 2023.
A few key points to keep in mind as you consider applying:
|Program Area||Funding Priority|
|Health and Human Services||The increased stress of the pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health and well-being of community members, with the greatest challenges faced by those already vulnerable due to multiple factors.
Funding will target programs or projects that support the fundamental needs of our most vulnerable community members, which could include mental and behavioral health, housing, and food insecurity.
|Education||BIPOC children and Dual Language Learners have been disproportionately impacted by wildfires and the pandemic, which has decreased early learning opportunities and access to early childhood education. Data from the READY report shows that kindergarten readiness has declined for the fifth straight year in Sonoma County.
Education funding for 2023 will target programs or projects that offer children, youth and/or their families the opportunity to increase early literacy skills.
|Arts & Culture||The connection between the arts and healing has been well-documented. For a community that has experienced a series of natural disasters alongside a global pandemic, the arts can reduce acute levels of collective stress and uncertainty, transforming struggle into a creative expression of lived experience.
For 2023, arts funding will target programs or projects that explore the arts and creative expression as a form of healing.
|Environment||The existing and future threat of climate change-fueled wildfires means disaster mitigation continues to be critical for the safety of our community.
Funding will target disaster mitigation projects that seek to address the impacts of wildfires primarily through the reduction of fire fuels. Approaches include—but are not limited to—prescribed grazing, prescribed burns, and manual vegetation management. Recognizing the opportunity to create a pathway for a trained, stable, well-compensated workforce that can conduct comprehensive wildfire mitigation, projects that provide opportunities for youth, BIPOC individuals, and others most impacted by economic, racial, and social inequities, will be prioritized.
Our Community Grants program is a broadly accessible, responsive grants program meant to address the most pressing needs across all our communities. When evaluating proposals, we use the following criteria to assess the competitiveness of a project or program:
Sonoma County 501c3 nonprofit organizations may apply for a Community Grant for either program or project support. We do not accept proposals for:
What types of projects or programs are you prioritizing?
Sonoma County Vintners Foundation is pleased to continue our commitment to four key program areas: Health and Human Services, Education, Environment, and Arts and Culture. Please visit our website for an overview of the specific funding priority within each of these four areas.
What criteria will you use to make your decisions?
Do you prioritize organizations that are past grant recipients, or do you prefer to fund organizations that are new to Sonoma County Vintners Foundation?
We are interested in funding new organizations and innovative projects in our community, and we value the partnerships we have already created with many organizations; we do not prioritize one over the other. Please do keep in mind that being a former grantee does not guarantee future funding.
Do you prioritize programs that have a light touch with many people over in-depth programs that serve fewer individuals?
We prioritize programs that fully address the criteria and have the greatest possible impact on outcomes as defined in your application.
How will you distribute the funding among the four Program Areas? Across geographic regions?
We recognize that there are needs in all four Program Areas as outlined in our funding priorities. We will allocate a percentage of funds available in proportion to the number of applications received in each program area. Additionally, we strive to allocate funding equitably across the different geographic regions of our county.
What is the minimum and maximum amount of funding we can apply for?
The minimum grant request amount is $5,000; the maximum funding amount is $10,000.
What proportion of applicants received funding last year?
About half of last year’s applicants received funding. We encourage interested organizations to self-select by weighing their proposed project’s alignment with the criteria and funding priorities before beginning the application process.
Do you award partial grants?
On occasion we do award partial grants, but we strive to fully fund requests as we know that it is difficult to deliver on your goals that you have outlined in your proposal with less funding than you have planned for.
Do you provide funding to sponsor events or scholarships?
No, the Community Grants program is not designed to sponsor events or fund scholarships.
Are public schools eligible to apply?
Yes, provided there is a lead person associated with the grant and the project priorities align with the funding priorities.
Can funding be applied to staff costs?
Yes, you can apply for funding for staff costs to run your program or project.
Is there a limit to the percentage of overhead that can be included in a project or program proposal?
There is not a specific limit to the percentage of administrative expenses that can be included in a proposal. However, we encourage you to select an amount that is reasonable to the project or program request.
If my nonprofit organization is based outside of Sonoma County, can I still apply for a grant?
Nonprofit organizations that have a significant presence in Sonoma County but are based outside of Sonoma County are eligible to apply.
How many applications can an organization submit? What if our organization has several departments that work independently?
In general, our priority is to provide broad community-wide support and prefer only one proposal from any one nonprofit organization within a given grant cycle. However, if your organization is very large, with distinctly different programs, you may consider submitting more than one application. We recommend that you contact us before you proceed with submitting with more than one application.
Will it hurt my chances to apply for the same program I applied for last year?
We accept applications for the same project or program you applied for last year. Generally speaking, if your application was declined, it may indicate that the project or program was not a good fit for this funding.
We are working with a community partner organization that is also applying for a separate grant for a different project. Are we still eligible to apply?
As long as the two programs are different, you are eligible to apply.
Who reviews the grant applications?
The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Grants Committee, in partnership with Community Foundation, reviews proposals and makes final funding decisions.
If a grant is awarded, is there a deadline by which an organization must expend the funds?
The grant period for the 2023 Community Grants program is from June 15, 2023, to June 14, 2024. The funds must be expended within the grant year.
Can I apply to both a Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Community Grant and a Community Foundation Sonoma County grant?
Yes. These grant programs are separate, and you may apply to both the Community Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners Foundation’s grant programs.
Monday, February 27: Application opens online
Wednesday, March 1, 3–4 pm: Virtual Grant Workshop (optional; the recording will be made available) (Click here to register)
Thursday, March 2, 9–10 am: Virtual Grant Workshop (Click here to register)
PLEASE NOTE: To support a smooth application submission process, we have staggered the grant deadlines according to program areas.
Friday, March 17: Education / Environment / Arts & Culture Grant Applications are due by 5:00 PM.
Friday, March 24: Health & Human Services Grant Applications are due by 5:00 PM.
Beginning of May: Applicants notified of grant status
Grant Period: June 15, 2023 through June 14, 2024
We also encourage you to attend one of our upcoming Community Grant virtual workshops. Please note, attendance at a grant workshop is encouraged, but not mandatory. A workshop recording is available below.
The workshops will take place via Zoom. RSVP by choosing one of the dates below:
Wednesday, March 1, 3–4 pm: Virtual Grant Workshop
Thursday, March 2, 9–10 am: Virtual Grant Workshop
Sonoma County Vintners Foundation uses Community Foundation Sonoma County’s online process for submitting grant applications. If this is your first application using the new online portal, you will be asked to set up an account.
If you have an established account, you will be asked for your password to open a new application.
We highly recommend reviewing the FAQs for Online Submission before beginning your application.
Once you’ve opened an online account, you will be asked a series of questions that include your contact information and a series of narrative questions. Applicants will also be asked to upload the following documents:
*A program budget template is available on our website. You may choose to use your own template instead. We do not provide a template for the organization budget.
A few words of caution:
Please note, applications must be submitted online through our Grants Portal, and will not be accepted via email. If you prefer to draft your application in Microsoft Word, before submitting through our online grant application portal, we have compiled a copy of each application for you to use. Please click the links below to download the .docx file for the program area you are interested in applying for: