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    Grant Seekers

    AWS Foundation awards grants to help children and adults with enduring intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities live as independently as possible, be included in the community and function at their highest potential. “Mighty Money” mini grants, designed to provide a boost for not-for-profits, are also available.

    We invite you to creatively audit the abilities of your organization for opportunities that, coupled with our grant making activities, expand your programs to serve the disability community. Then take a look at the eligibility and funding guidelines below to see how AWS Foundation might partner with your organization to make that vision a reality. For grant ideas, click here to review past grant recipients.

    As you explore the possibilities and have questions about how your grant request aligns with our mission and guidelines, please email or call Joni Schmalzried, Chief Program Officer at 260.207.5656.

    Letter of Intent

    A Letter of Intent (LOI) is required for requests that fall into one of these categories:

    • The organization is making its first formal grant request;
    • The request is for capital support regardless of amount;
    • The request is for $50,000 or more;
    • The funding is a multi-year request.

    You can access the LOI online application here. You may review the LOI questions before the application here. The LOI must be submitted on the organization’s letterhead and include the following:

    • Program or Project Name
    • Summary of the program/project, demonstrated need and expected outcomes
    • Total cost of the program/project
    • Amount requested from AWS Foundation
    • How the request aligns with the Foundation’s mission and one of our priority initiatives
    • Signed and dated by the Executive Director/CEO

    Upon our receipt of your LOI, you will be contacted by Joni Schmalzried, Chief Program Officer, to discuss the request for eligibility and next steps.

    Grant Guidelines


    Our focus is specific to individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, fragile X syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome, etc. Aging or illness related disabilities fall outside our scope of disabilities.


    We have five priority initiatives:

    • Social Enrichment: Seeking inclusive and accessible social, recreational and creative programs that engage and inspire individuals with disabilities.
    • Education & Employment: Supporting access to educational resources and activities to be successful learners, both academically and in developing life skills, that offer individuals with disabilities equal opportunity for meaningful employment.
    • Transportation: Pursuing opportunities for accessible, affordable community transportation increasing access to locations throughout the community for individuals with disabilities.
    • Early Diagnosis & System Navigation: Exploring programs that recognize and diagnose disabilities early to achieve each individual’s highest potential, providing easy access and information to assist families and care givers, and gaining better understanding of effective therapies for individuals with disabilities.
    • Housing: Broadening opportunities for safe, secure and affordable housing that provides a variety of beneficial living environments for individuals with disabilities.


    To be competitive for funding, your request should:

    • Align with the AWS Foundation’s mission and initiatives.
    • Consider innovative or new approaches that address the needs of people with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities.
    • Involve a significant number of individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities.
    • Requests to fund individuals, fundraising activities of other organizations or religious activities are not competitive for funding.

    Geographic Area

    Organizations qualified for funding consideration must be 501(c)(3) organizations serving these northeast Indiana counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Grant, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. The Foundation’s funding priorities are:

    1. Program
    2. Capital
    3. Operating

    Grant Schedule

    AWS Foundation has four grant application deadlines per fiscal year. Below is the list of upcoming grant cycles. Applications open two weeks before their due date and must be received by 5 p.m. (EST) per the grant deadlines below and are accepted only via the Foundation’s website.

    SUMMER 2022

    Letter of Intent Opens:
    April 15, 2022

    Letter of Intent Due:
    April 29, 2022

    Invitation to apply by:
    May 6, 2022

    Grant Application Opens:
    May 13, 2022

    Grant Application Due:
    May 27, 2022

    Decision Announcement:
    August 17, 2022

    FALL 2022

    Letter of Intent Opens:
    July 15, 2022

    Letter of Intent Due:
    July 29, 2022

    Invitation to apply by:
    August 5, 2022

    Grant Application Opens:
    August 12, 2022

    Grant Application Due:
    August 26, 2022

    Decision Announcement:
    November 16, 2022

    WINTER 2022

    Letter of Intent Opens:
    October 14, 2022

    Letter of Intent Due:
    November 28, 2022

    Invitation to apply by:
    November 4, 2022

    Grant Application Opens:
    November 11, 2022

    Grant Application Due:
    December 2, 2022

    Decision Announcement:
    February 22, 2023

    SPRING 2023

    Letter of Intent Opens:
    January 20, 2023

    Letter of Intent Due:
    February 3, 2023

    Invitation to apply:
    February 10, 2023

    Grant Application Opens:
    February 17, 2023

    Grant Application Due:
    March 3, 2023

    Decision Announcement:
    May 17, 2023

    Grant Application

    Please read through our Grant Guidelines and to determine your request meets our criteria.

    We use an online grant application and management system called Foundant Technology. This system enables you to work on your application over time, cut and paste information into question fields, save your work and then return to it. You can also print the entire application (including attachments) with just one click. Reports will be submitted using this grant portal too. And, your organization’s applications and reports will be permanently stored for you to access at any time.

    The logon process requires the following:

    • A user name that is an email address
    • Your contact information
    • Your organization’s information including the EIN/Tax ID number
    • Contact information for the organization’s Executive Director/CEO

    To begin the application process click here.

    Note: When referring to people with disabilities in your grant application, please use “People First” Language, respectfully putting the person before the disability, i.e., individuals with disabilities, individual with autism.

    For an example on what “People First” Language is and how to write in this point of view, click here.

    Gilmore Inclusive Arts Grant

    Lynne Gilmore, the first Executive Director of the Foundation, is passionate about the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of community life, especially the Arts. Upon her retirement in December 2018, the board dedicated a special grant in her name to honor her service to AWS Foundation and those we serve. The Gilmore Inclusive Arts Grant will support special projects devoted to including and engaging individuals with disabilities in the local arts communities of Northeast Indiana.

    Amount: Up to $25,000

    Frequency: Annually in Fall grantmaking cycle.


    • Applications should be for a new program or project inclusive of those with disabilities (as defined on website under “focus“). 
    • Must be located in Northeast Indiana.
    • An organization can only receive a Gilmore Grant as a primary applicant once.
    • Funding is for programming and capital only.
    • If the project is ongoing, applicants will be asked for a plan of sustainability.
    • Priority will be given to submissions with the greatest impact, but projects affecting a small group are welcome to apply.
    • Collaborations are welcomed and encouraged.  
    • Applicants need to be part of a 501(c)(3). If an individual would like to apply, they should find a 501(c)(3) partner.
    • Projects must adhere to community guidelines around COIVD-19. Projects that answer the increased  need for access to the arts during the pandemic for individuals with disabilities are encouraged.

    How to Apply: The 2021 application opens on August 27. Decisions are announced November 10. Submissions will be accepted through our online grant portal. Applicants will either need to create an account or log into an existing account. You may view questions before the application opens here. Contact Andie Mosley for application deadline.

    Previous Gilmore Inclusive Arts Grant Recipients:

    YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne: 2019 Recipient

    (See their full project here)

    Gigi’s Playhouse Fort Wayne: 2020 Recipient

    Mighty Money

    Our “mini grants” provide funding to not-for-profit organizations who need a little boost for their big idea. These grants are available to organizations serving northeast Indiana. Before applying, you may view the Mighty Money Questions. To apply for a Mighty Money grant, click here.

    Grant Cycles:

    • Applications accepted any time throughout the year.
    • Limit of one application per year.

    Mighty Money features:

    • Grants of $2,500 or less
    • Simple application
    • Approval within 30 days
    MIghty Money

    Have a great idea, but not sure if it’s grant worthy?

    Send us a quick description of your concept. We’ll let you know what we think and give you pointers on making it a grant-winning success.