How To Apply

Below is guidance on how to apply for either a capital grant or a Kennedy School of Government Gates Fellowship.

Please note that consideration for the Gates Family Foundation's Initiated Grant funding program is not part of the Foundation’s quarterly capital grant cycle. Nonprofit organizations doing work directly related to Foundation Initiated Grant activity should contact the Foundation staff responsible for implementing the program of interest to determine whether your work is eligible for funding consideration.

The eligibility requirement/restriction lists (at right) will help you determine if you qualify for a capital grant. 

Starting in 2017, the Gates Family Foundation will review grant applications three times a year.  Proposal deadlines will be January 15, April 1, and October 1.


Capital grants are generally limited to comprehensive capital campaigns, which are typically for building purchase, construction, expansion, renovation, and/or land acquisition.  Applicants should have commitments for approximately 30% of the funds needed to complete the project before submitting a capital grant application to the Foundation.

Applicants should use the Capital Common Grant Application. Prior to submitting a proposal, many applicants find it useful to call a program officer of the Foundation to review the substance of the proposed project. Alternatively, applicants may submit an initial inquiry by completing the Narrative in Section III of the Capital Common Grant Application. If the information in the narrative appears to dovetail with the Foundation's funding priorities for capital grants, staff will request a completed Capital Common Grant Application.

Please do not use binders or notebooks. Only one copy of the proposal is requested.  Please do not both e-mail and mail your proposal to the Foundation.  Grant requests may be emailed to

It should be noted that the Gates Family Foundation receives far more proposals each year than it is able to fund. 

Application Documents
Proposal Deadlines

Capital grant applications are accepted at any time throughout the year; however, funding decisions are made when the Gates Family Foundation board of trustees meets. In order for each proposal to be thoughtfully studied, it is important for the applying organization to have its proposal in the hands of the Foundation staff at least ten weeks prior to the trustees' meeting.

  • January 15 (Trustee review in early April)
  • April 1 (Trustee review in mid-June)
  • October 1 (Trustee review in mid-December)
Two Step Review Process

Starting in 2012, the Foundation began using a two-step process to review capital grant requests. Each quarter, staff will review proposals submitted and identify any it believes are eligible but unlikely to be recommended or approved to receive funding. If there is unanimous agreement among the trustees, the requests included in the group will be eliminated from consideration at this point and the applicants notified of this decision. The balance will be scheduled for site visits and further staff review.

Award Notification

The Foundation will send letters outlining all trustee decisions on capital grants within two weeks following each quarterly meeting.

Quarterly Reports

Please provide a one-page update at the end of each quarter that includes the following: (1) restate the total campaign goal and expected date of completion; (2) the total amount of funds raised to date (paid and pledged); (3) any significant changes in project scope and costs and/or adjustments to the overall campaign goal and timeline; (4) any new major contributors to the project and/or pending grants; (5) project or campaign highlights from the previous quarter. A sample report is provided for your convenience.

Final Reports

One year following the payment of each grant, the Foundation requires that the responsible officer in each recipient organization submit a written report on what has been accomplished with the funds granted. The funds granted may only be expended for the purposes indicated; funds not so spent must be returned to the Foundation unless other arrangements have been approved by the Foundation. A full and final accounting must be made on the occasion of the completion of the project.

Gates accepts the Common Grant Report Form.

Press Releases & Grant Recognition

The Foundation respectfully requests that all proposed press releases be cleared with the Foundation. It also requests that no statues, plaques, or framed certificates be presented to the Foundation for its support of projects or organizations.

Gates Fellowship


Senior executives in state and local government are under more pressure than ever to take on increasingly complex problems with fewer resources and a greater degree of public scrutiny. In order to find solutions to these problems, bring about change, and help people in organizations and communities face difficult challenges, public officials must strengthen their ability to exercise effective leadership in rapidly changing political and social environments.

The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Gates Family Foundation have partnered since 1980, each year sending up to six individuals to participate in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. The three-week program operates as an interactive classroom, where case studies of real issues are analyzed to find solutions to complex problems, and faculty and participants work together and learn from each other. The Foundation's sponsorship of this fellowship stems from the conviction that effective delivery of public services, in an era of shrinking resources, requires conscious investment aimed at enhancing the quality of management of government. Executives working with state and local governments - elected, appointed, and career officials, as well as those in nonprofit organizations, national associations, and private corporations - will find the program extremely valuable.

Gates Fellowships will be awarded to residents of Colorado by an admissions committee at the Kennedy School based upon the recommendations of a nominating panel of distinguished Colorado residents. The program fee is $16,500 which includes tuition, housing, curricular materials, and most meals. Gates will pay $15,600 of the discounted tuition costs directly to Harvard for each Fellow selected. Participants or their employers must fund the balance.

While the Harvard application deadline is typically in mid-April, individuals interested in a Gates Fellowship must submit their applications to Harvard no later than March 5, 2019.

For fellowship consideration, please indicate Gates Fellowship on the financial inquiry section of the application.

Gates Fellows 2013
Gates Harvard Fellows Reception 2016

Requirements List


Restrictions List

Although the Gates Family Foundation reviews each proposal separately, it generally does not: