The Community Fund of Darien is the leadership organization that assists our neighbors who are most in need by investing wisely in the local nonprofits and community initiatives. We fund efficient and effective nonprofits located in Darien, Stamford, and Norwalk. Our Grants address a broad spectrum of needs including at-risk youth, homelessness, hunger, abuse, mental illness and more.

Our grants to local nonprofits are designed to have a measurable impact and sustainable benefit.  Each nonprofit we fund is thoroughly vetted by our staff and trained volunteers. Our comprehensive due diligence ensures that our donors’ contributions are well spent.

Click below to see a summary of our 2018 Grants.

Our 2018 Grant Highlights



The Community Fund gave a grant to Inspirica for its Early Childhood Parenting program and Youth Center. During the year, Inspriica provided services for 120 homeless children.

AmeriCares Free Clinics


This grant went to AmeriCares Free Clinics in Norwalk. The clinic services approximately 650 patients a year for approximately 2900 medical visits, representing $2.258 million in services delivered.

Children's Learning Centers


Our grant to Children’s Learning Centers provides early childhood education to over 1,100 children in Stamford; 90% come from low-income families, 68% come from families where English is not the primary language, and 88% graduate “kindergarten-ready”.

Building One Community


In the first six months of 2018, 389 immigrant clients participated in this program; 69% reported that new skills acquired at B1C helped them get a job, maintain their employment or get a better job.

For a complete list of the 2018 Grants, please click here.

Funding Goals

Every three years, The Community Fund conducts a thorough Needs Assessment to determine that our grants are funding the most critical local needs. In the fall of 2017, we revised our funding goals to reflect our recent Needs Assessment. All grants must correspond with the funding goals described below:

2018-2020 Grant Funding Goals

Basic Needs

Fund services that meet critical basic needs such as food, housing, and emergency financial assistance.

  1. Reduce food insecurity by improving access to nutritious, affordable food.
  2. Move individuals from homelessness to stable housing by promoting access to affordable housing options, emergency shelter, and collaborative case management.
  3. Provide emergency assistance programs to help residents attain financial stability by helping fund requests for utilities and rent.


  • % of residents that are food insecure, # of residents accessing food
  • # of homeless (chronic homeless, youth homeless, families homeless)
  • # of housing placements, # of positive exits
  • # of people helped through financial assistance and degree of stability six months later


Youth Success

Cultivate success and reduce achievement gap from birth through high school graduation to prepare youth for post-secondary education and employment.

  1. Improve school readiness for young children.
  2. Enhance academic performance and social-emotional well-being for underserved youth, including immigrant children.
  3. Improve access to physical and mental health services.
  4. Build youth developmental assets to promote positive decision-making and reduce risky behaviors.


  • Preschool student benchmarks to measure kindergarten readiness
  • School engagement, attendance, and grade-level academic performance
  • High school graduation rates
  • Evidence-based indicators of mental and physical health
  • Social-emotional well-being (assets) measurements and improvements



Promote independence, economic security, and access to community-based physical and mental health services and substance abuse treatment.

  1. Teach skills to secure and retain employment and earn a living wage.
  2. Improve access to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
  3. Increase awareness of research and community resources for substance abuse prevention.
  4. Improve opportunities for immigrants through language skills, education, employment resources and legal services.
  5. Promote educational and employment opportunities for young adults, ages 18-25.
  6. Support functional independence for developmentally disabled clients, elderly and their caretakers.


  • # of job placements and enrollment in job programs and ESL classes
  • Evidence-based indicators of mental health and availability of clinical treatment, % of population served achieving stability
  • Indicators of substance abuse prevention and treatment success: % completing treatment without relapse, % of population receiving mental health support for co-occurring disorders
  • Cost in avoidance of emergency room visits and hospitalization
  • Post-secondary education and employment opportunities, # of job referrals for 18-25-year-olds
  • # enrolled in programs enabling disabled and elderly to continue to live at home with caretakers

View the summaries of our needs assessments here: Food Insecurity, Homelessness, Immigration, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Youth Success.

Grants Eligibility

The Community Fund of Darien invests in the community by making grants to vital, nonprofit human services organizations that meet our eligibility criteria and our funding goals of Basic Needs, Youth Success, and Self-Sufficiency. Large grants ($10,000) minimum are made at the end of our June fiscal year. New grantees can apply for a small grant (under $5,000) in our fall grant cycle. All grants are by invitation only.

To qualify for a grant, an organization must:

  • Be a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization
  • Serve human services needs of residents in Darien, Stamford or Norwalk
  • Request funding for a program
  • Provide measurements of outcomes to demonstrate impact
  • Adhere to a non-discrimination policy on the basis of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities, gender or national origin or any other characteristic protected by law in all aspects of organizational operations including hiring, leadership, and service provision

Grant applications must conform to the format and content specifications provided in the application form. Late or incomplete applications may not be considered. The Community Fund will evaluate all grant applications based on the criteria outlined by the Grants Executive Committee. The Community Fund may not approve a request even though it meets the established criteria and the organization was invited to apply. The Board reserves discretion to award or deny grants as it deems appropriate, acting in the best overall interest of The Community Fund’s donors, staff and volunteers.


Eligibility for a Community Fund Small Grant:

Small Grants will provide funding for general operations and special initiatives for programming and/or activities that demonstrate a positive impact in meeting identified human services needs in the Darien, Norwalk and Stamford community. These needs must fit within the 2018-2020 funding goals in the categories of Youth Success, Basic Needs, Self-Sufficiency. Maximum funding amount: $5,000. Applicants will not be eligible for a repeat award more often than once in every three years


Ineligibility: The Community Fund of Darien generally will NOT fund grants for:


  • Individuals (except Touch a Life Fund)
  • Annual appeals or membership drives
  • Fundraising events or capital campaigns
  • Religious activities, projects or organizations which do not serve the general public on a nondenominational basis
  • Political or lobbying efforts
  • Endowment campaigns
  • Scholarships or conference fees
  • Any purpose not fitting within the 2018-2020 Community Fund funding goals

Small Grants

In December 2017, The Community Fund of Darien awarded $14,000 in small grants (each under $5,000) to 5 local organizations, including CT Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, Operation Fuel, Secure Jobs, and Tiny Miracles.  Highlighted here is our $2500 grant to a new program, English Learner Support Services of Fairfield County, which provides small group tutoring for ESL students at Norwalk High School.  Many of the students served by this program are newly arrived immigrants who have experienced limited or interrupted education due to crisis or poverty in their native countries.

Application Process

All potential Large Grant recipients will be invited to apply for a grant in January. Grantees must submit an application and then host a site visit from our grant review panels. Funding decisions are determined by the Grants Executive Committee and are announced at the conclusion of our June Fiscal Year.

Potential small grantees are invited to apply in the fall. Grantees must submit an application and then host a site visit from members of our Grants Executive Committee. Funding decisions are determined by the Grants Executive Committee and will be announced in December.

If interested in learning more about our application process, please contact Lisa Haas, Grants Director at The Community Fund at

Grant Review Volunteers

Grant Review is our annual review process whereby we review and visit local nonprofits to ensure we are investing in the most effective nonprofit organizations.  Every year, over 50 Darien residents help The Community Fund with its due diligence.

Volunteers are assigned to a panel (group) with of 5-6 other reviewers. Each panel will be asked to review 2-3 nonprofits. Volunteers attend a training session to learn about the process and the evaluation criteria. After reading and visiting the nonprofit organizations, panels will evaluate and prepare summary documents for each organization.  At the conclusion, each panel presents their findings to The Community Fund’s Grants Executive Committee.

The grant review process runs from approximately March 1 through May 1st. Each group meets approximately five times (including the 2-3 site visits), with an estimated total time commitment of 10-20 hours.

If you are interested in participating in our grant review process, please contact Lisa Haas, Grants Director at The Community Fund at

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