Applying for Community Impact Grants

Current Grantees
Click Here >

What is a Community Impact grant?

United Way of the National Capital Area Community Impact grants are how we invest local dollars in our communities to address specific community centered issues. Funding decisions are made through an annual competitive application process.  Our Community Impact grants are invested in high performing nonprofit organizations that provide programs and services aligned with our three strategic priority areas of Education, Financial Stability and Health. Awardees help to improve community conditions across our regional footprint in the eight (8) counties we serve: Alexandria, District of Columbia, Fairfax/Falls Church, Montgomery, Arlington, Loudoun, Prince George's and Prince William.

Who can apply for a Community Impact grant?

Current United Way NCA nonprofit members are eligible to apply for Community Impact Grants during the open application period. The 2016-2017 Community Impact Grant Request for Proposals (RFP) and application process has ended and awards were announced in January 2016.  We are currently in the first year of a two (2) year (multi-year) grant cycle ending December 2017.  The next Community Impact Grant RFP will be announced in the summer of 2017. 
The new multi-year grant cycle and other changes were detailed in the 2016 -2017 Community Impact Grant RFP.  You may find this proposal at the following link:

 2016-17 Community Impact Grant Request for Proposal

New members for 2017-2018 campaign year will be eligible to apply for grant funding for the next grant cycle, pending successful completion of the membership eligibility process and acceptance.

Not a member? Click here for information about becoming a member.

What is the process?

All eligible United Way NCA member nonprofits will be emailed when the Request for Proposal (RFP) is released. The entire process usually spans August to December.
Funding decisions for the 2016-17 Community Impact grants were made in January 2016.

Click here to see the 2016 Community Impact Award Recipients

If you have questions about your 2016 application, take a look at the most frequently occurring comments and feedback for non-funded 2016 proposals.

What are United Way NCA’s investment priorities?*


Middle Grade Success
Academic and social supports for middle school students in low to moderate income families; out of school learning opportunities; medical and dental services; mental health services within schools; nutrition education; family support and engagement.

Recruiting and engaging mentors for students; raising post-secondary education and career exposure; connecting youth (especially boys of color) to caring adult mentors.

Financial Stability

Financial Independence
Access to financial coaching, free tax preparation, benefits enrollment, housing counseling, entrepreneurship assistance, and budget and credit counseling for low to moderate income individuals.

Homelessness & Affordable Housing
Helping individuals gain access to permanent housing and wrap-around services.


Healthy Eating & Active Living
Access to healthier food choices for children and families; nutrition education; physical activity and education; and youth obesity prevention in low to moderate income schools/communities.

Basic Needs Support
Emergency and basic needs supports for individuals and families, including clothing, food, shelter, rent and utility assistance; access to prescription assistance, primary medical, dental, vision and mental health care.

*Priorities may be adjusted annually

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does United Way NCA focus more deeply on specific issues?
Like most organizations, we are challenged to meet the needs of our constituents and effectively drive change with limited resources. By investing strategically in a streamlined set of priorities that align with our organizational goals and through focusing more deeply on fewer issue areas, we aim to make a more meaningful and measurable impact in the communities we serve.

Why did you move to a multi-year funding cycle? 
Over the last several years, United Way NCA has considered  how to best strategically leverage its investments through the regional community impact funds..   The multi-year (2 year) funding cycle helps United Way’s staff to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the CI grants program and allows more time to build better partnerships with grantees and analyze the data that informs our work in our strategic impact areas.

Will the grants be still for one year or multiple years?
Grants will be awarded for a period of one year, with the possibility of an additional year renewal. Grant renewals will be based strictly on the availability of funds, program performance (outcomes) and compliance with the terms of the grant agreement.

Is the grant request amount for one year or both years of the funding cycle?
The minimum ($10,000) and maximum ($25,000) grant request amounts are on a per annum/year basis.  If funding is awarded, the amount would be awarded for the first year, and will continue at the same level contingent on grant performance and available funding for the next year. 

Should I still apply if we have not been previously funded or currently funded by United Way NCA?
YES! Current grantees or organizations that received funding in prior years are not given special consideration by the grant review committee.

How does organizational size affect ability to compete?
It doesn’t. Organizational size is not a factor in evaluating applicants. Funding decisions are based on alignment with United Way NCA’s priorities and the applicant’s ability to demonstrate tangible, measurable results.

Can I get feedback about our previous year’s grant application?
Unfortunately, any feedback received from last year’s grant application will not be relevant to this year’s process. Based on the volume of applications we typically receive, we will not be able to provide individualized feedback to member nonprofits on their specific proposals. However, at the conclusion of this grants process, we will collect and summarize the most frequently occurring comments and feedback observed by our grant reviewers and publish the comments to our website.

Who reviews the final grant applications?
The application process is overseen by United Way NCA in partnership with its Regional Councils, eight groups of highly-engaged external professionals comprised of board, corporate, nonprofit and community representatives.  External reviewers are selected from academia and the public and private sectors based upon their experience and knowledge of community need; diversity was also an important factor, as we wanted to ensure the entire region was represented.

Reviewers are also thoroughly vetted for any conflicts of interest. Throughout the rigorous review process, reviewers utilized an assessment tool to rate applications based on their quality, alignment with United Way NCA’s funding priorities, and ability to demonstrate measurable results in their respective area of focus.  Reviewers are recruited in all local communities to provide feedback based on applications in that location.

Have questions or need technical assistance? Please email