Community Progress Fund Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the definition of a Community Progress Fund?

ZSR’s Community Progress Fund is intended to support organizations and projects that are trying to affect meaningful change in communities. ZSR leaves our definition of "progress" intentionally broad, so that we can learn more about what is happening in communities across the state. As we learn, our definition of "progress" may evolve. The term is inclusive of moving an issue, idea or an organization forward in order to test an idea or achieve greater impact. The projects need to demonstrate that there is already some level of momentum that an infusion of funds can help accelerate, test or grow. These grants will only be for one or two years, and each grant will range between $20,000 to $30,000 annually, so the projects need to be reasonable in scale relative to those parameters, and with the acknowledgement that ZSR will only support the proposal through this fund via a one-time grant. 

2. Are Community Progress Fund grants for individual organizations or are awards made by priority areas, similar to the priority areas used with the Foundation’s State-Level Systemic Change (SLSC) Strategy?

ZSR's community-based funding is not awarded based on priority areas. Organizations are encouraged to submit a request that self-defines and demonstrates their own interpretation of “progress.” 

3. Are there any parameters or preferences that would strengthen a Community Progress Fund grant request? 

Community Progress Fund grant recipients are required to: 

  • Have 501(c)3 status or be government or religious entities; 
  • Begin implementation of a proposal or idea immediately upon award of the grant; and 
  • Have a proposal or idea that aligns with ZSR's core values. ZSR’s core values call for a commitment to Stewardship, Integrity, and Excellence, and could be embodied through one or more of the following values: Fairness and Justice, Dignity and Equity, Civic Participation, Sustainability, or Collaboration. 

Preference is given to: 

  • Proposals from areas of the state that have relatively higher needs with fewer resources; 
  • Proposals that have the greatest potential to impact a community with the $20,000-$30,000 grant award(s); and
  • Proposals that demonstrate strong potential for “progress.” 

ZSR strongly encourages proposals from organizations that are led by and primarily serve people of color. 

4. Are there projects that the Foundation would not fund?

With RARE exception, the Foundation would not make Community Progress Fund grants for the purposes listed below. 

  • Athletic events or teams 
  • Stand-alone, one-time or annual conferences, seminars, or symposiums  
  • Curriculum development 
  • Emergency medical service organizations 
  • Endowment funds 
  • Equipment or furniture purchases 
  • Fundraising events 
  • Initiatives promoting religious education or doctrine 
  • Land easements  
  • Medical research 
  • Operating expenses for schools 
  • Payments of debts 
  • Private business ventures 
  • Private or charter K-12 schools 
  • Scholarships 
  • Summer camps 
  • Volunteer fire departments 

*The Foundation is legally prohibited from funding voter registration.

5. What happens if my proposal is more than $30,000 or what if I need less than $20,000? 

Grant awards for the Community Progress Fund range between $20,000 and $30,000 per year. Organizations should not apply for funds outside of this grant range amount.

6. Can I apply for different amounts in year one and year two?

Yes. Organizations are encouraged to apply for the amount of funding that they deem necessary in year one and in year two, as long as it falls within the $20,000-$30,000 range per year.  

7. If I request two years of support, and a grant is awarded, is it likely I will receive two years of funding?

If an applicant requests two years of support, and a grant is ultimately awarded, ZSR may award one OR two years of support. Generally, ZSR expects that approximately half of the Progress Fund grants will be awarded for a two-year duration, and half will be awarded for a one-year year duration. 

8. What is the process for applying for a Community Progress Fund grant? 

Prospective applicants should complete an application, which involves providing their nonprofit status, the organization's mission and the communities served. The application also asks applicants to describe the need and momentum in their community, and how this particular proposal could generate meaningful “progress.” ZSR will review applications and contact select applicants who will move to the next phase of the process, which includes ZSR staff scheduling visits in these communities. Final grant recipients will be selected in May 2024. 

9. What should I do if I have questions about my proposal or idea? 

ZSR receives a significant number of applications for the Community Progress Fund and may not be able to respond to every question an applicant has. However, if you are having trouble with the application, please contact Organizations are encouraged to review the Rarely Funded Activities list to see what the Foundation likely will not fund. 

10. Can I apply for a Community Progress Fund grant while ZSR is considering other proposals I have submitted or that I intend to submit?

Yes, an organization can apply for other funding opportunities that ZSR has available.

11. What happens after I submit my application?

ZSR will review applications and contact select applicants who will move to the next phase of the process, which includes ZSR staff scheduling visits with these communities to learn more about their proposals. Grant decisions will be made in May. The grant period for grants awarded will begin in July. 

12. If my organization was awarded a Community Progress Fund grant, what is the earliest I can apply for another Community Progress Fund grant? 

Because Community Progress Funds are intended to be one-time investments, Progress Fund grantees (whether awarded one- or two-year grants) must take a two-year hiatus from the time the grant ends before they are eligible to be awarded another Progress Fund grant.

13. How many grant cycles are there for the Community Progress Fund? 

Community Progress Fund grant selections will occur once per year. Grant amounts range from $20,000-$30,000 per year for up to two years.  

14. What kinds of proposals are you looking to support? 

The Progress Fund allows communities to test ideas, expand promising efforts, or achieve greater impact. ZSR hopes that engaging with community members through the Progress Fund grant cycle will allow the Foundation to support communities and to better understand how different communities experience change, opportunity and challenges in unique ways. Thus, the parameters for this approach are intentionally broad. In addition, ZSR desires to be accessible to areas of the state that have relatively higher needs and fewer resources, and to support and learn from those communities as described above. Consequently, preference will be given to those areas of the state. 

15. What should I do if I am having difficulty submitting my application online? 

Please email Beth Priddy at or call 743-333-4022.