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Merrimack Valley General Fund Grant Guidelines

Painting of a Lawrence mill by an Essex Art Center student
Merrimack Valley General Fund Grant Guidelines

The Merrimack Valley General Fund provides program support for nonprofit organizations serving fourteen communities in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.

Program and Geographic Priorities

The Merrimack Valley General Fund Advisory Committee will set annual priorities for funding. Support will be directed at essential needs in three communities:  Lawrence, Newburyport/Amesbury and Haverhill, with a focus on Greater Lawrence. These needs include: food, clothing, shelter and education. Shelter is defined as affordable housing or shelter programs, but not actual construction projects.  The committee will look favorably on collaborative projects.

Selection Criteria

When reviewing proposals, the MVGF Grants Committee considers:

  • Programs that meet a documented need, are well planned and include evaluation procedures
  • Organizations that have the capacity to support the proposed project and have a sound financial plan.
  • Projects that offer the most significant impact for the contribution dollar.
  • The project’s potential impact on the participants.
  • The needs of the target population.
  • Potential for continuation or impact beyond the grant period.

Proposals should demonstrate how the requested funds will be used directly in the program itself or in the building of the organization's physical or governing capacity.
Usually grants are made for specific programs or activities with objectives that can be assessed within a one-year grant period. General operating support is sometimes provided to small organizations.

One-year grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 are awarded.


Only nonprofit organizations recognized as tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are eligible for consideration.

ECCF is committed to non-discrimination. We support organizations that use all reasonable efforts to recruit, hire, train, promote and serve persons without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law, except where such status is a bona fide qualification for the service being provided and is related to the organization's mission.

Generally MVGF grants are not awarded:

  • To individuals
  • To state or local government agencies including public schools
  • For political purposes
  • For debt or deficit reduction
  • To replace public funding, or for purposes which are generally a public sector responsibility
  • To support academic research
  • For travel outside the region
  • To organizations headquartered outside of Essex County, unless they have a physical presence in the Merrimack Valley.
  • For summer programs that are already supported by the Greater Lawrence Summer Fund.

Application Deadline

Proposals must be submitted on-line by 11:59 p.m. on September 30th. Late applications will be not be considered.

Grants are awarded at an Awards Ceremony in mid-December.  All grant awards will be distributed by no later than December 31st.

Application Procedure

Proposals must be submitted through ECCF's


If you do not yet have a login for our application Portal, please read our Grant Application Process page which will give you access to the Portal.

Review Process

The MVGF Advisory Committee reviews all proposals and recommends grant awards for approval by the ECCF Board of Trustees.   Those agencies submitting proposals that meet the Fund’s guidelines may be called for a site visit or phone interview.

Reporting Requirements

Grant recipients must submit a final report by August 31st.  If an organization is requesting a grant in the year after having received a MVGF grant, please file a final report or a progress report for the existing award prior to submitting the new proposal. If the project is not completed and a progress report is filed, a final report should be submitted at the appropriate time.

Grantees will be emailed information and links to the Final Report Form or may access the form through the Application Portal.

For more information or discussion of a project or program idea, please contact:

Carol Lavoie Schuster
Associate Vice President for Philanthropy
Essex County Community Foundation
175 Andover Street, Suite 101, Danvers, MA 01923
Tel: 978-777-8876
Email: c.lavoieschuster@eccf.org