Community Responsive Grants Program

Program Description

Applicants may apply for either a one-year planning grant up to $30,000 or an implementation grant for one or two-years up to $50,000 per year.

The Community Responsive Grants (CRG) program grew out of the recognition that those closest to a problem often have the best ideas about potential solutions. The purpose of this program is to respond to community needs with community-led solutions; to address emerging opportunities, test innovative approaches or new ideas; or implement programs informed by the experiences of communities on how best to address barriers to achieving health equity.

Projects most likely to be funded improve health equity by focusing on changing policies, practices, and perceptions that create barriers to health care and good health and align with one or more of MeHAF’s Four Goal Areas: equitable access, systems change, better health for specific groups, and shared leadership.

Additional Documents

Helpful Terms to Know

The following terms appear in the RFP and are defined here to help applicants understand how MeHAF is using them.

  • Community(ies) of focus is the specific population most affected by barriers to health and health care access who are at the center of the proposed work, and whose health would directly benefit from the project’s success. This may be a group with a shared identity, a common cause, common geographic location, similar health and health access needs, or other shared experiences or characteristics.
  • Health equity means that all people have what they need to lead healthy, productive, and purposeful lives. This includes, but is not limited to, access to quality, affordable health care. Pursuing health equity is about addressing the disparities created by those in power, which have systemically advantaged some groups and disadvantaged others, both historically and currently. Achieving health equity requires a commitment to examine and address barriers across services, systems, and sectors and begin to compensate for the impact of cumulative disadvantages to achieve fair and just health outcomes for all.

Dates to Remember

Organizational Eligibility

A 501(c)(3), local, state, or tribal government entity or educational institution. Applicants must be organizations based in Maine. If your organization is not eligible to apply independently, and you need to apply via a fiscal sponsor, please contact MeHAF before applying so that we can assist you with the steps. Individuals and private foundations are ineligible.

Funding Guidelines

Community Responsive Grants program funding may not be used for:

  • General operating support or “gap” funding;
  • Direct care costs;
  • Public awareness campaigns focused on a specific disease or health condition;
  • Fundraising efforts;
  • Capital expenditures;
  • Academic or graduate research; or
  • Grants or scholarships to individuals.



For questions regarding the Community Responsive Grants program, please email Senior Program Officer Frank Martinez Nocito.

For Questions regarding MeHAF's online application system, please email Grants Manager Holly Irish.


Community Responsive Grants Program Background

MeHAF’s vision is that communities across Maine will thrive when all people in Maine are able to lead healthy, productive, and purposeful lives. In this vision, all voices are heard, and all people have what they and their families need to be healthy and well.

Over the past few years, MeHAF has heard clearly from its nonprofit partners, that there is a desire for MeHAF to provide more open, responsive funding opportunities outside of our competitive grants cycles or focus areas. Reflecting MeHAF’s principles within its current strategic framework, the Community Responsive Grant (CRG) program builds upon the Foundation’s long commitment to its mission, as well as emphasize a commitment to advancing health equity. Over time, our experience suggests that the most successful projects with the longest staying power after grant funding ended were those tailored to be responsive to community and cultural needs, focused on efforts to reduce inequities, and designed to leverage local resources, talents, and opportunities. In addition to providing grant funding, this program supports MeHAF’s efforts to build relationships, thus further developing our organizational appreciation and understanding of the scope of challenges communities are working hard to address, as well as the varied forms of expertise and experience they utilize to carry out their work most effectively.

We also recognize that some community health services and access to care needs require action by systems and organizations – “the providers” of care and services. In 2020, MeHAF established the Systems Improvement and Innovation Responsive Grants (SIIRG) program as a complement to CRG. The focus of SIIRG is to support innovations taking place in the health services sphere and create change at the system and organizational levels, with a major emphasis on ensuring that those who are meant to benefit from the work have a meaningful and ongoing voice in shaping improvements and innovations that address their needs. It is anticipated that the grant cycles for these two sister programs will operate on an annual basis beginning with a summer/winter release of their respective RFPs, and continue for the foreseeable future.