Community Action Grants

Opens: August 1
Deadline: December 1

Community Action Grants provide funding to individuals, AAUW branches and AAUW state organizations as well as community-based nonprofits for innovative programs that promote education and equity through projects focused on encouraging girls to select, before entering college, the physical sciences or engineering as a career. Since 1972, AAUW has provided support to hundreds of communities across the United States.

For questions or technical support, please email


December 1, 2020
Deadline for online submission of application and supporting documents

April 15, 2021
Notification of decisions emailed to applicants. AAUW is not able to honor requests for earlier notification.

July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022
Grant year

When a deadline or notification date falls on a weekend, the date will be observed on the following business day.

  • Applicants must be individuals, AAUW branches, AAUW state organizations or local community-based nonprofit organizations (including universities).
  • The proposed activity must have direct impact to encourage girls to select, before entering college, physical science or engineering as a career.
  • Nonprofit organizations and universities must be based in the United States or its territories.
  • Organizations (including universities) must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. AAUW branch and state applicants must have 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.
  • Proposals from AAUW branches or states must be approved and signed by the branch or state president.
  • Proposals from local community-based nonprofit organizations must be approved and signed by the organization’s executive director.
  • Previous Community Action Grant awardees must wait three application cycles before applying for another grant and may not apply for duplicate funding.
  • Members of the AAUW Board of Directors, committees, panels, task forces and staff, including current interns, are not eligible to apply for AAUW’s fellowships and grants. A person holding a current award is eligible for election or appointment to boards, committees, panels, and task forces.

The Research and Projects Community Action Grants Panel meets once a year to review applications for funding. Awards are based on the selection criteria outlined here. The panel’s recommendations are subject to final approval by the AAUW Board of Directors. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis according to funds available in a given fiscal year. To ensure a fair review process, AAUW does not comment on the deliberations of the awards panels. Thus, AAUW is unable to provide written or oral evaluations of applicants. No provisions exist for reconsideration of grant proposals after the board has acted on the panel’s recommendations.

The following criteria apply to the selection of Community Action Grants:

  • Relevance of the proposed project to the mission of AAUW.
  • Strength of the project rationale — the project meets a demonstrable, documented local need
    Clarity and creativity of the project design — the project has (1) clear and specific outcomes and (2) is original and/or innovative in its approach to achieving those outcomes.
  • Sustainability/impact of the project — the project (1) reaches underserved audiences, (2) builds connections with diverse individuals and organizations, (3) has potential for AAUW branch or state involvement/visibility, (4) has potential for long-term impact, and (5) has potential for long-term sustainability beyond the grant period.
  • Feasibility of the project — (1) proposed activities will logically lead to desired outcomes/achievement of goals, (2) the project time frame is realistic, (3) the budget is adequate and expenses are justified in the budget narrative, (4) there is adequate support from collaborative organizations and community partners, (5) the project director is qualified to direct the project, and if an AAUW branch, AAUW state, or nonprofit applicant, the organization has the capacity to carry out the project.
  • Strength of the evaluation plan — (1) specific evaluation methods are proposed to measure short-term, medium-term, and long-term results, (2) proposed evaluation methods are logical measures of projected outcomes, and (3) resources are adequate to support the proposed methods
  • Strength of the dissemination plan — (1) specific dissemination methods are identified, (2) a realistic plan is provided to implement the dissemination, and (3) resources are adequate to support proposed dissemination.
  • Overall quality of the proposal — the proposal is clear and convincing.
  • Potential for and/or commitment of additional funds and involvement from community organizations and/or businesses.

Funds are available for, but not limited to, project-related expense categories, including:

  • Postage, mailing, shipping.
  • Photocopying, duplicating.
  • Office supplies.
  • Audiovisual materials.
  • Project-related telephone costs.
  • Professional fees or honoraria for speakers or special consultants.
  • Equipment purchases.
  • Meals, food, beverages, or lodging for camps or related activities.
  • Temporary, hourly clerical help.
  • Lease of facilities (does not include permanent office space).
  • Advertising, publicity, graphic design.
  • Transportation (should be no more than one-third of grant request; $0.545 per mile for auto expenses).

Funds are not available for the following:

  • Salaries or stipends for project directors or permanent positions.
  • Tuition.
  • Higher education scholarships for students and participants.
  • Building funds, construction, or renovations.
  • Travel expenses for activities not within the scope of the project.
  • Overhead or general operating expenses for any organization or nonprofit organization.
  • Personal expenses, shelter, or life, medical and health insurance.
  • Previous expenditures, deficits or loans.
  • Creating or providing grants to other organizations.
  • Copyright or attorney fees.
  • Fundraising activities.

AAUW regards the acceptance of a grant as a contract requiring fulfillment of the following terms:

  1. All grant recipients must sign a contract accepting the award. Retain these instructions, as they will become part of the grant contract if the applicant is awarded a grant.
  2. Grant awards are distributed in two equal payments, the first at the beginning of the grant period and the second at the midpoint.
  3. The Community Action Grant project director must be in an active leadership role, controlling programmatic, fiscal, and editorial responsibility for the project.
  4. The project director cannot be paid with Community Action Grant funds for work on the project and the project director’s employer cannot be reimbursed.
  5. Projects may be awarded only once. Former Community Action Grantees may propose new activities for future grants after waiting three application cycles but cannot reapply for the same project for which they received funding in the past.
  6. If eligible, an applicant may apply to more than one AAUW grant or fellowship program simultaneously. If awarded in more than one program, the applicant may accept only one award.
  7. AAUW is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity founded for educational purposes. Thus all proposed Community Action Grant activities must correspond to that mission. Specific questions regarding income tax matters should be addressed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or to the applicant’s personal tax adviser.
  8. Grant projects may not seek to influence new or pending legislation or favor a particular political candidate or party.
  9. Grant projects must be nonsectarian and may not seek to promote a particular religion or denomination.

Start by clicking on the link to access the application and create an account through our vendor site. Complete all required components in the following areas.

  • Eligibility.
    Applicants must pass the eligibility quiz to be reviewed by the selection panel..
  • Project Director.
  • Project.
  • Uploads.
    An Organizational Summary Form and Statement of Commitment are required for:

    • All applicants applying as nonprofit organizations (including universities) and all AAUW branches.
    • All organizations that will act as collaborative partners on this project. The Organizational Summary form will be available in the application. The statement must include two paragraphs that outline the collaborating organization’s commitment to the project in terms of time, personnel, facilities, monetary support, etc. Statements must be written on organizational letterhead.

Nonprofit applicants (including universities) must submit proof of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status (i.e., an IRS determination letter). AAUW branch or state organizations applying for funds must be 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) and must submit proof of status.

  • Demographics.
  • Narratives.
    • Abstract: Briefly describe the proposed project. Identify the target audience, goal of the project, anticipated outcomes, and relevance of the project to AAUW’s mission. (600-character limit).
    • Project rationale (need statement): Provide evidence of need for the project. Describe the community served by the project, the problem being addressed, and the reason for initiating the project. Emphasis should be on community needs, not a general research need. (1,200-character limit)
    • Project description (anticipated outcomes): Identify the goal and anticipated outcomes of the project. The outcomes should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Describe the methods you plan to use to achieve these outcomes. Explain how the proposed project will meet the needs of the target audience in an original and/or innovative way. (2,000-character limit)
    • Implementation plan: Outline the project time line and list planned activities or events according to the time line. Explain how the implementation plan will lead to desired outcomes. Explain how you plan to recruit participants (if applicable) and share information about the project with your community. (2,000-character limit)
    • AAUW involvement and collaborations: Based on the timeline above, describe the AAUW coalition and collaborators that will support the implementation plan. Explain why the coalition is appropriate for the project and if organizations other than AAUW will be involved (Organizational Summary and Commitment forms from collaborators must be sent as supporting documents). (1,200-character limit)
    • Evaluation plan: Explain how you plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the project. Outline the specific strategies you have used and plan to use to determine if you have achieved the anticipated outcomes outlined in your proposal. Explain why the evaluation method you plan to use is appropriate for the project. (2,000-character limit)
    • Dissemination plan: Describe how you plan to disseminate information about the results and impact of the project. Provide a detailed plan for how and when the dissemination will occur. (2,000-character limit)
    • Impact/outreach: Describe the anticipated long-term impact of the project. Explain how the project will reach underserved audiences and build connections with diverse individuals and organizations. Explain why the project has potential for sustainability after the grant period ends. (2,000-character limit)
    • Qualifications of the project director and staff: Identify the person responsible for the project and other relevant leadership staff. Briefly outline the experience, education, and skills that qualify them to direct the project. In addition, list other staff and individuals who will work on the project. Describe their roles and qualifications. (2,000-character limit)
    • Organizational capacity: Briefly describe the branch, organization or individual’s capacity to carry out the project. What other projects have they planned and implemented that have prepared them to carry out this project? For AAUW branch or state projects, how will the project promote AAUW branch/state growth? (2,000-character limit)
    • Project budget: An itemized budget for the project must be included. Project budgets should reflect the costs that will be incurred during the grant period.
    • Budget narrative: Applicants must justify and explain each listed expense and include in-kind support and other sources of funding. Be sure to describe the relationship of the expense to the desired outcome of the project. Strong budget proposals include in-kind contributions and funds from other sources.

Meet a Current Community Action Grantee

2020-21 AAUW Community Action Grantee Kelly Fair

The Reflections Foundation creates communication competencies that ensure young women are employable in the future workplace. Their goals are to reduce violence among girls, to reduce violence perpetrated against girls and to replace the school-to-prison pipeline with a school-to-career pipeline for low-income African-American and Latina girls. Their desired impact is to build a pipeline of girls for careers at all levels, from apprenticeships to CEO leadership.

Meet Our Alumnae

2016-17 AAUW Community Action Grantee Smart Girls Smart Choices Inc.

Smart Girls Smart Choices Inc.

2016-17 Community Action Grantee and mentoring program for girls ages 11–17. It includes workshops and field trips to spark girls’ interest in math, science and technology, and connects them to high-achieving women.

AAUW 2017-18 Community Action Grantee University of Texas at Austin

The TWINS project at University of Texas at Austin

2017-18 Community Action Grantee and project to build a stronger partnership between the Thinkery (formerly the Austin Children’s Museum) and high school students participating in Women in Natural Sciences (WINS). WINS recruits women into STEM majors, provides on-campus support, and runs community events.

2018-19 AAUW Community Action Grantee Cal-Poly Pomona Foundation

Cal Poly Pomona Foundation Inc.

2018-19 Community Action Grantee, educating high school girls about wearable technology, programming, engineering and project-based learning. The 30-hour curriculum was developed by The Cal Poly Pomona Foundation Inc. – The Femineer™ Program at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in conjunction with San Diego State University and Ramona High School.