2019 Grants Processes Now Open, Plus an Explanation of Our Philosophy and Priorities

Our 2019 Major Grants Processes are now open! We are looking for organizations who bring an excitement and passion to their work, and who are working to break the cycle of poverty by addressing or removing the root causes of systemic barriers to health, safety, shelter and opportunity in the communities where we work and live

If that sounds like you, we'd encourage you to submit an LOI for our Spring 2018 Grant Cycle. We are offering grants for general operating support, program-specific support, and capacity building initiatives specifically.

Note that Leadership Development Grants for 2019 will be reopened in January.



All organizations seeking funding, regardless of amount requested, are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Provide services in and/or be based in one of our geographic areas of focus;

  • Provide evidence of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3);

  • Provide up-to-date contact details for regular communications;

  • Adhere to the principles of the Foundation.

Read more about The Helen J. Serini Foundation grant guidelines and types of grants made.



Our support of direct service, emergency needs, or similar programs is rare, and usually occurs in instances where that service is used to inform systemic work, or if an organization can demonstrate that such a program, if implemented universally, would have systemic impact.

Individually, board and family members may support direct services and emergency needs organizations, but the foundation’s collective giving focuses on root causes and systems change work as outlined above.

The Foundation is seeking funding partnerships with non-profits who demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • A creative, innovative, entrepreneurial spirit

  • A spirit of collaboration, partnership, and alliance-building

  • A commitment to equity

  • A willingness to grow a relationship over time

  • Experienced, high-energy, talented management and demonstrated board governance

  • Models that are constituent-driven and informed by the communities they aim to serve

  • Services that are transformative in the lives of clients

  • Work that improves and/or restructures symptoms by changing the policies and practices that hold people in cycles of poverty

When considering whether or not to apply, consider the following questions:

Does this work improve or restructure systems of poverty by changing policies, practices, or beliefs that hold people in cycles of poverty? 

If this is a request for direct service support, does this direct service inform or complement work to improve or restructure systems?

If not, do you believe that the universal implementation of this direct service work would result in an improved or restructured system?


LOIs for this grant cycle must be submitted via our online portal no later than January 25th. Invitations to submit full proposals will be sent in the first half of March. LOIs submitted via email or snail mail (please, please don't snail mail us) will not be reviewed.

See the full timeline for the Spring 2018 grant cycle.



All organizations requesting funding must submit a two-page LOI via our online portal to be considered. Learn more about the full grants process, timing, and expectations here. Unsolicited LOIs are welcome and encouraged, provided the submitting organization meets all eligibility criteria. Full proposals will be reviewed by invitation only.



Contact Kerry McHugh, Program Officer, at kmchugh@hjsfoundation.org. Or plan to stop by one of our drop-in sessions coming up in January (to be held in Baltimore, Frederick and Annapolis — more info here).