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A grant may fund a new program or the expansion or continuation of an existing program. The program may be the whole work of an organization, or one of many projects, or a capital project; and it may be finite or ongoing. Proposals are evaluated for:

  • Impact. How large an impact can the grantee reasonably expect to achieve? Is the intended effect clearly understood? How many people will be affected by the program, and how deeply?

  • Likely success. Does the proposed program seem likely to work? Are talented managers available to ensure the program’s success? Is there a good way to measure the results?

  • Cost effectiveness. Is the impact large considering the amount of the grant? Is this program more cost-efficient than others in the same field? Are adequate skills and other resources (facilities, volunteers, trainers, alliances, etc.) available to make best use of the grant? Demonstrated cost-effectiveness is mandatory for us to support your program.

  • Long-term focus. Is the program designed for maximum impact over the long term, e.g. by intervention early in a process, by changing the rules of the game, or by education, as opposed to a short-term patch that doesn’t address the root cause of a problem?

  • Need for funding. Is the grant necessary to achieving the desired impact?

Why are some applications not approved? The most common problem is that the application does not demonstrate that the program is cost effective: either there is no clear description of the end results desired, or the program does not deliver a lot of end results given the amount of money spent. The next most common problem is that the program does not clearly fit the areas the Contorer Foundation supports, or only a small portion of the program fits the areas. So please pay special attention to these issues in your application.


Applicants should be non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3)tax status. Programs should be located in or near the Seattle area, except proposals to reduce population growth may be located anywhere on Earth based on cost-effectiveness. Previous grant recipients may re-apply.


  • Explain specifically what the grant would be used for. State clearly the program’s goal, and how the program will cause that goal to be reached.

  • Describe the organization’s mission, history, accomplishments, financial status, staffing (preferably including a description of the skills and track record of key leaders), and current work plan.

  • Note which category the program falls under: population growth, or sprawl/transportation. Programs that fit more than one category are welcome. Programs that don't clearly fit one of these categories should not apply.

  • Show how well the proposal fits each of the granting criteria shown below.

  • Grants may range from $5,000 to $45,000 per year, for 1-3 years. Explain how much money is requested, and the effect if a reduced amount is granted.

  • Provide documentation of organization’s 501(c)(3) tax status, or explanation if not.

  • Provide an audited financial statement for the prior year. If no independent audit was done, include a copy of the IRS 990 report.

  • Indicate in a signed letter that a description of the program, recipient, and grant amount may be made public.

  • Provide contact information for us to arrange a visit. We do site visits for some but not all applications.

  • Agree to provide at least one outcomes report per year describing the results of the work, if a grant is approved.

  • If possible, provide contact information for 2 to 5 independent experts who will vouch for the worthiness of your grant proposal. Optionally you may include letters from such experts vouching for the merits of your program or your organization.


Send your application to:

Contorer Foundation

c/o Bristlecone Advisors

10900 NE 4th Street, Suite 2260

Bellevue, WA 98004

Questions about applying may be sent to the above address or, preferably, via email to apply (at) If you are unsure whether your program would likely qualify for a grant, we strongly encourage you to inquire before sending a formal application.

The process, dates, amounts, categories, terms,and all information herein are subject to change without notice.

Who Should and How to Apply: FAQ
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Thanks for submitting!

Who Should and How to Apply: Contact
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