The Grantmaking Process

11, 12

To introduce students to the grantmaking process

Lesson Rating 
PrintFive or more class periods throughout the semester

Students will:

  • Understand the importance of a mission statement
  • Understand grant styles, grant types, and grant strategy
  • Understand the organization, communication and character needed to run an effective nonprofit organization
  • Understand the questions to ask when reviewing a grant application
  • Understand the size and scope of youth serving nonprofits in the community
  • Prepare, organize, and execute site visits to youth serving nonprofits that applied for grants and were selected as finalists by the class
  • Vote on which grant requests should be funded

Lesson 1 Getting Ready of this course explains how, at Kentucky Country Day, students in the Hands On Philanthropy class become Board members responsible for a donor advised fund (called the Artemis Fund) held at the Louisville Community Foundation. As members, the students decide which applicant organizations will receive grants from their fund. Lesson 1 also explains how a teacher can work with the school’s leadership or development staff to create a grantmaking fund at the school (rather than a fund at the community foundation). Whichever way grant funds are made available to the class to award, this lesson #9 briefly explains the process the class will go through as they deliberate and decide upon which applicant organizations will receive grant awards.


A grant application form developed for nonprofits to apply for grants from your class. If you are working with your local community foundation, it will likely have a standard form that can be adapted by you or your class. 

A grant review student feedback form (in Word or a Google document) that can be used to gather and share students’ thoughts as they review applications. 

Teacher Preparation 

Each year prior to the start of the semester, the grant opportunity is shared through different media outlets in the community to encourage local youth serving organizations to apply (KCD typically receives 30-40 applications). Information about how to apply (including access to the grant application) is shared. If you are working with your local Community Foundation, the grant opportunity may be shared with the community through it. 


Grantmaking, grant review, community foundation, limited resources, site visit, decision-making, mission, effectiveness


  1. Before beginning your grant review sessions, help students understand (1) grant styles, types, and strategy; (2) the organization, communication and character needed to run an effective nonprofit organization; and, (3) the importance of a mission statement. This knowledge is important to keep in mind as students begin to review grant applications and compare organizations making requests.

  2. Start early in the semester, take an example application and review it together as a class. Go through the types of questions that are important to ask when reviewing grant applications.

  3. Have students complete a Motivation Style for Learning survey. This will provide information on each student as you prepare to separate them into groups; use the survey results in order to get a mixture of thoughts and opinions in the groups.  

  4. Split the class into groups to review grant applications, paying attention to mixing students’ personality types in each group.

  5. Now you are ready for student groups to research and review grant applications and to present their findings to the class. This will take place over the course of several classes.

  6. The class votes on which grant applications are “finalists.” (At KCD, this is a main responsibility the class has as they serve as that year’s Artemis Fund Board).

  7. Select a student to be responsible for communication with the youth serving organizations, including contacting the finalists and sending rejection letters to those that were not selected after the class reviews and votes on grant applications. (At KCD, these responsibilities fall on the Artemis Fund’s Vice Chair).

  8. Plan site visits to the finalist organizations. As the instructor, coordinate the site visits or guide students as they coordinate. Visits can take up to one full school day off-campus, depending on organizations’ locations and planned activities.  Coordination includes determining the date/time of the visits with approval of school staff, getting permission slips from parents, recruiting or scheduling a bus driver, and preparing for the site visits. The site visit date(s) are communicated to the school as soon as they are confirmed.

  9. After the visits, students vote on which organization will be awarded the grant and receive the funds. (The amount to be distributed is determined at the start of the class semester, using a summary/financial report from the Community Foundation).