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Application FAQ

AR grantee exalt

Thank you for your interest in our 2024 second-stage grantmaking cycle!

Please find answers to frequently asked general, eligibility and application questions below. This page was most recently updated in May 2024.

General questions

Is Arbor Rising the same as Arbor Brothers?

Yes! This link gives some context to our 2022 name change.

I have not heard of Arbor Rising. How did you learn about my organization?


If you have never heard of us and are wondering how we learned of your organization, it would likely have been by recommendation from one of your current funders or someone else in your network who esteems you highly. 

How can I learn more about your approach and work?


In addition to our website, we encourage you to review our track record of impacthear from prior grantees about their experience, and peruse our annual grantee survey results. Additionally, we hosted a virtual information session for potential applicants to learn more about Arbor Rising and this year’s grantmaking process on Thursday, June 13th. A recording of the session can be found here and a copy of the accompanying slides can be found here


Please note that this information session was completely optional, and attendance will not be considered in the decision process.  

Can I call, email, or meet with you before the deadline to discuss my application?

Due to expected volume, we are not able to accept applicant phone calls or meeting requests. If you still have questions after thoroughly consulting this FAQ document, please reach out via email to Caroline Ostrover ( Responses are generally provided within two business days.

I'm excited to apply! How do I access the 2024 application?


Our 2024 grantmaking process will be invitation-only. Invitees will receive a link by email to fill out the application online. 

Eligibility questions

I thought Arbor Rising only funded organizations in NY, CT, and NJ. My organization is not located in this region. Is my organization eligible to apply?


Yes. Since 2011, we have funded organizations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In 2024, we are expanding beyond the New York tri-state area to partner with nonprofits in other regions within the lower 48 states. Given this, we expect that our 2024-2025 portfolio will likely include 4-6 new entrants, with of mix of those serving beneficiaries in the NY-NJ-CT area and elsewhere.

My organization does not yet have its 501(c)(3) determination, but I do have a fiscal sponsor. What information do you need from my fiscal sponsor?


The only thing we need from your fiscal sponsor is a copy of its IRS determination letter.

My organization has applied for Arbor Rising funding two or more times in the past. Are we eligible to re-apply?


Yes. Organizations that have applied for Arbor Rising funding in the past are eligible to re-apply. That said, organizations that have repeatedly applied (especially in the last five years) are much less likely to be competitive in this cycle unless they have a new Executive Director and/or have undergone significant programmatic changes. 


Are local sites of national programs eligible to apply?


Yes, with the following caveat: Because the consulting portion of our grants is central to the impact we seek, we aim to partner with management teams that have ability to make decisions around fundamental aspects of the local organization. Some local sites of national programs have very little flexibility in this area and some have lots of flexibility. If yours is an organization with little flexibility, your application may be less competitive.


My organization is 15 years old but otherwise fits your characteristics of second-stage. Are we eligible to apply?


Yes, with the following caveat: While we consider the second-stage to encompass a range of organizations, we are generally more focused on younger nonprofits. This is because we believe we can be most helpful to organizations that are still experimenting with their model or are at a true inflection point in their growth. For context, while we have funded organizations as old as 19 years old, the average age of organization at time of initial funding is 5 years old.

While my organization has existed for 40 years, we have new leadership and are taking the organization in new directions. Are we eligible to apply?


Yes, with the following caveat:  As with the situation above, a strong case would need to be made that management and the board are aligned on the need to make big changes to the organization’s program and/or staffing structure.

My organization is local and has a total budget greater than $5M but operates a number of programs that function independently and each have separate budgets which are less than $5M.  Can we apply on behalf of one of these specific programs?


We typically accept applications from organizations whose total local budget is less than $5 million (excepting schools).  Since the work we do is “whole-org” based, we don’t have experience or expertise working with small parts of large local organizations.  If you have received an invitation to apply for funding and your organization has a budget above $5M, feel free to email Caroline Ostrover ( to confirm your organization's eligibility.   

Selection questions

I have a decent sense of the numbers you’re seeking but I’m not 100% sure of all of them. What should I do?

If you have exact numbers, please include them. If you have only a reasoned estimate, that is fine. All the numbers can be tightened and confirmed in later rounds.

My organization is only one year old. How should I answer the questions related to the prior two fiscal years?


If this is your first or second year of operation, write “N/A” where necessary.

How do you define “low-income”?


Since there is no perfect measure of “low-income” (or poverty for that matter) we don’t have an internal specific measure or bar to which we hold applicants. Instead, we’re seeking a realistic picture of the participants you serve. With that in mind, some people use the federal poverty guidelines, others use free/reduced lunch percentages, and others use self-reporting measures. We appreciate quantitative detail wherever possible; but again, approximate percentages are okay for the written application.


How do you distinguish between core participants and ancillary participants?


Some organizations serve multiple groups of participants, some more deeply than others. The core participants are those that you serve deeply. If you only have one group of participants, then consider them all to be core.


Said another way: core participants are those for whom you hold yourself accountable to outcomes. Ancillary participants are those who you work with, but whose outcomes are either not tracked or on whom you feel you have only a minor impact.


For example: Organization A serves 3,000 people every year. 220 people participate in its 6-day-per-week academics and sports program over the course of 12 months. Those are the core participants. The remaining 2,780 people participate anywhere between 1-time sports lesson to 2-week summer session. Those are ancillary participants.


Does the dosage question refer to past operations or current operations? For example, my organization is only 2 years old, but I’m building a 5-year program. How should I answer the question about dosage?


The dosage questions refer to planned operations. For the example above, if participants are two years into a 5-year program, then list “5” for the “# of years they participate” question.

Is the Diversity Questionnaire actually optional?

Yes. If you are able to submit this information, we will be pleased to receive it. If the information is not readily accessible or if you are not comfortable sharing, your application will not be negatively affected.

One section of the Narrative component of the application asks about evaluation and program results. Can you share an example of how we might formulate our response?


Sample excerpt: If you are a college access program who helps high school students get to and through college, you might share something like... 


We measure student retention during the duration of our 4-year HS program, on-time HS graduation rates, college acceptance rates, college matriculation rates within 6 months of HS graduation and on-time college graduation rates. We have engaged 1,000 high school students over the last five years. During that time, of students who started our program in 9th grade:

  • 90% of students graduated HS on-time and were accepted into college (90% of 1,000 students = 900 students)

  • 80% of those who were accepted into college matriculated within 6 months of graduation (80% of 900 students = 720 students)

  • 80% of those who matriculated into college within 6 months are on-track to graduate from college within 5 years (80% of 720 students = 580 students)

  • Our hope is that in our next program year we can improve these yields from 90%/80%/80% to 95%/85%/85%.”

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