Our Grant Process

Our Grant Process

Due to the profound disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, The Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation was forced to revise our 2020 planned grantmaking.  Here are the components of our Emergency Response Plan for the Memphis community that relate to the grant application process:

  • Pivot our 2020 planned grantmaking budget into an Emergency Response Fund; 60% distributed in April to first responder organizations along with a donation to the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund / 40% distributed in November to help stabilize our long-term grant partners.  We have defined long-term as KWFF grantees who have received 2+ grant awards within the past 5 years.  We will not enter into any new funding relationships in 2020. We feel it is important to help sustain the organizations we have historically funded within the past 5 years. 
  • All organizations interested in submitting an application in Fall 2020 should meet the long-term partner specifications described above. Please contact Carrie Burke at cburke [at] kwff [dot] org to determine your eligibility to apply. Final grant awards will be distributed in November.
  • Fall 2020 grant application will be available to long-term grant partners June 1-August 15

Applying for the Right Amount

We manage the foundation’s portfolio with care and want to work with you when considering what amount you should ask for. We strongly encourage you to contact our office by phone or with a letter of intent (accepted by mail or email) BEFORE applying.  Please contact cburke [at] kwff [dot] org or by calling 901-726-3147. We want your application to be successful so  we do our best to share with you our grantmaking strategy for the giving cycle.

In your email, please provide us with a very brief description of what you want to accomplish and the funding needed. We consider our current gifts, our commitments, and the community needs as we build our docket and review requests. We encourage first time applicants to apply for $10,000 or less. An organization is eligible to apply for more than $10,000 if it has an existing or prior funding relationship with KWFF. We make gifts of all sizes but our average gift size is between $10,000-20,000. Some gifts are in the form of a one year commitment or when warranted, multiple year commitments are considered. Please note there is no guarantee you will receive funding the second time you apply for the same or similar funds.

Grant Eligibility

In order to become eligible for consideration for grant funds, there are several required steps.

  1. The organization must have an established and current operating 501c3 status.
  2. The organization must be impacting the Greater Memphis area, unless otherwise specified or invited by a Wilson family member to apply.
  3. The organization must show leadership with its staff as seen in the results of programs or the success of the overall organization’s mission.
  4. The organization must apply through our online grants management system.
  5. The organization must provide sound financials (either audited or balance sheets).
  6. The organization must provide a list of its established board members and make a statement as to the active nature of their board members.

Once all of the information is reviewed, an applicant may create an account and apply for a grant. If you believe your organization meets these requirements, please click on Our Grant Application Process for next steps.


If the applicant does not have 501c3 status, operates outside of the Memphis area or is requesting funds for a special event, the applicant will not be allowed to complete an application. 

It is not how much you have but how much you enjoy that makes happiness.
Kemmons Wilson