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The Foundation supports grassroots groups with a strong community base that are addressing critical issues in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties through community organizing strategies. We fund projects that mobilize affected populations to create social and economic justice. Projects should be initiated and led by economically and politically disenfranchised groups including low-income, working poor, and marginalized individuals. Empowerment of the economically and politically marginalized and inclusion of such people in an organization’s leadership structure is a requirement for funding.

We highly recommend that new groups review their organization’s eligibility on the Foundation’s website before starting this process.

Organizations who are interested in submitting an LOI must create an organizational profile through the McCune Foundation’s grants portal link:  Click on “Create an account now”. You will be directed to complete an Eligibility Quiz. If eligible, you will be prompted to a Registration/Letter of Inquiry form. Complete this form and submit. A message will appear thanking you for submitting your organization information.  You will receive an email confirming your registration and login information.

Please reach out to McCune staff at if you have any questions about this new system.

Please keep an eye on your spam folder, as emails from this system may be delivered in spam folder.


Grants are awarded twice a year. Initial proposals must be submitted no later than January 19, 2024, for the first 2024 grant cycle. Successful applicants will be required to submit a full proposal no later than February 26, 2024, for funds to be awarded in May 2024. The deadline for initial proposals for the Fall 2024 grant cycle will be July 2024.

Letters of inquiry and grant applications should be submitted through the McCune Foundation’s Grants Submission portal:


  1. Thoroughly review the Grant Guidelines and Past Grants.
  2. Use the Eligibility Checklist to determine your fit with McCune Foundation values.
  3. If you are a new applicant , we strongly advise you to contact Araceli Centeno to discuss your project prior to submitting a letter of inquiry.

Types of Grants

Project & General Operating Support grants are offered for projects that grow social capital and enhance a community’s capacity to mobilize residents to solve problems. Requests up to $50,000 will be considered and grants generally will not be made for more than 50 percent of a project budget. (The Foundation does not fund the provision of direct services or purely educational programs.)

Grants are available for specific projects and general operating support. One-year and two-year requests of up to $50,000 per year will be considered. Grants to first-time applicants to the Foundation will generally be for $20,000 or less. Also, grants generally will not be made for more than 50 percent of a project budget.


Grants will not be awarded for direct support to individuals, budget deficits, religious organizations for religious purposes, construction or renovation of buildings, or general fundraising drives or events. We usually will not consider proposals from schools. In general, we do not fund projects implementing model programs from elsewhere, but will consider funding the expansion of locally-initiated projects to other parts of the region.

Eligibility for Grants

Funding is available to applicants in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties that have IRS 501(c)(3) tax status or operate under the sponsorship of a qualified organization.

To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate that they:

  • Include the affected population in the planning and implementation of the project.
  • Work to create systemic change.
  • Build social capital and community capacity by engaging and empowering new participants in action for social change.


Are you mobilizing residents of Santa Barbara & Ventura Counties in California?
If YES, consider submitting a request.

Do you work exclusively with residents of other regions?
If YES, your project will not be considered.


Economically and politically marginalized individuals are the leaders of the group and are directly involved in decision making and planning.
If YES, consider submitting a request.

Established community leaders not necessarily representative of the targeted population predominate on the Board and drive decision making.
If Yes, the organization is not likely to be eligible.


The project is focused on creating systemic change by addressing the causes, not symptoms, of social problems through influencing policy reforms, institutional changes, etc.
If YES, consider submitting a request.

The organization’s primary strategy for reaching its mission is to provide services (basic needs, mentoring, education, etc.)
If Yes, the request is not likely to be eligible.


The project strives to build social capital and community capacity through community organizing – bringing people together to jointly act in their self-interest. Engaging and empowering new participants is an ongoing priority.
If YES, consider submitting a request.

The project is primarily concerned with personal development and growth and achievement for the individual.
If Yes, the request is not likely to be eligible.

Grant Guidelines

The McCune Foundation was established in 1990 by George D. McCune and Sara Miller McCune, the founders and principal management team of SAGE Publications, Inc. Our mission is to be an agent of productive change in society by supporting the growth of social capital in communities. The Foundation supports projects and community-based organizations that are addressing critical issues in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties through community organizing strategies. We are especially interested in funding grassroots groups which seek to empower excluded populations.


Social Change
The Foundation is interested in creative grassroots projects which address the causes of a problem, rather than treating symptoms. We support organizations that see their work in the context of whole systems and causes, and exhibit solution-oriented approaches to addressing critical issues and creating social justice. (The Foundation does not fund the provision of direct services or purely educational programs.)

A core value for the Foundation is the empowerment of the excluded populations and inclusion of such people in an organization’s leadership structure. We support groups which are “doing with others” rather than “doing for others” – grassroots, bottom-up organizations in which the “clients” are the initiators and involved in the decision making.

Social Capital & Community Capacity
The Foundation supports grassroots organizations with a strong community base and efforts to grow social capital and enhance a community’s capacity to mobilize and solve problems. We support a focus on community capacity building rather than personal growth or development of leadership skills in individuals, except where such training is directly linked to community action and participants are committed to remaining in the community and using their skills to affect public policy. We also wish to encourage networking and coalition building within communities.

Funding Process

Submission for Project & General Operating Support:

Applicants are required to submit an Initial Inquiry letter of no more than two pages (12-point font) on organization letterhead describing the project/organization to be funded and demonstrating that the proposal fits within the Foundation’s funding guidelines.


  1. Indicate General Operating Support or name of project.
  2. Purpose and objectives of the proposal:
    • What will change as a result of this project?
    • Where did the idea for the project come from?
    • Describe the goals of the issue campaign(s) you will pursue and key steps of your action plan.
    • Who is leading and/or making decisions about the project?
    • What are your plans for engaging the community in the process? How will you build the leadership capacity of excluded populations?
  3. Brief background of the organization and what makes it a grassroots organization.
  4. Total cost of project, amount requested, and what funds will pay for.
  5. A copy of the IRS tax exemption letter should accompany the inquiry.

After reviewing the Initial Inquiry, the Foundation will advise the applicant of its interest in receiving a full proposal. At that time, a Grant Application form will be made available with full instructions. Once a complete application is received, a site visit will be scheduled (View Site Visit Guidelines). The project must be fully designed and ready to begin if approved. Grants must be claimed within 30 working days of approval. Grantees will be required to submit two written progress reports that document the results of their efforts and assess the impact of their work. (Download Progress Report).

Training Mini-Grant Program

The goal of the Training Mini-Grant program is to support organizational capacity to mobilize residents to act collectively for systemic change. Grants can be used to access community organizing and social justice-oriented trainings and coaching opportunities. This program is open to current McCune Foundation grantees, as well as to other community groups serving Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties that meet the eligibility guidelines above.

Grants between $500 – $4,000 can cover training/coaching costs including registration fees, travel costs, and/or consultants and coaches. Mini-grants can cover up to 75% of the training costs, with the applicant allocating funds for the balance from other sources.


Application will be via a 1-2 page letter and should include a budget for proposed expenses. Letters should be submitted through the Grant Application Portal. Please refer to the Grant Application Submission Process link on top of this page. Requests are accepted any time of the year and will be reviewed and responded to by the Foundation within four weeks. Questions about the application process may be addressed to the program officer at