Our Grant Process


IMPORTANT: The Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation has a revised grantmaking strategy for 2021 and beyond. Our objective is to focus on tangible, transformational changes in individual lives – children benefitting from higher quality education; young people able to afford college and get quality employment; youth offenders given tools and a second chance to build more positive futures; fathers playing an active and positive role in caregiving; mothers able to let their children play safely, in green spaces outside; seniors embraced by their families and community.

We intend to fulfill this objective through investments in:

Building Strong Families – An investment in the 2Gen approach to interrupt the cycle of poverty; promoting comprehensive well-being of individuals and families in the greater Memphis community. This is a CLOSED application process. 

We invest in a select set of highly effective, nonprofit organizations who collaborate and coordinate well-designed interventions, intense case management, and supplemental supports and services to help stabilize individuals and families and improve outcomes around housing,employment, health, and education. 

Innovation -One time grants which are responsive to community requests and needs; aligned with but not limited to Building Strong Families approach to disrupting generational poverty. [$10K-$25K per year]. Specifically, 1) Early stage (startup & growth stage) nonprofits who have proven the success of their business model and typically experience high barriers to funding. 2) Mature organizations who have developed innovative approaches to community issues and advocate for systemic change. 

This is an open application. Please contact Alison Buccini at before applying. 

Central criteria for Innovation grants includes:

  • Meeting the need for an infusion of resources to begin or scale an innovative and inspiring project.
  • Building the capacity, infrastructure and/or reach of highly effective organizations/programs.
  • Addressing an emerging challenge or opportunity
  • Helping to create a sustained, long-term impact for disenfranchised and under-resourced individuals in our city.

Big Bets - Large project investments to honor Kemmons and Dorothy’s love of Memphis and to improve the general quality of life in Memphis. This is an INVITATION ONLY grant application process. 

Central criteria for Big Bets might include:

  • Enriching the lives of individuals and families across socio-economic and other boundaries in the Memphis Metro area
  • Meeting the need for an infusion of significant, new resources to begin, complete, or significantly scale an innovative and inspiring project
  • Building the capacity, infrastructure and/or reach of key Memphis institutions and leveraging funds for them from other Memphis donors
  • Addressing an emerging challenge or opportunity where KWFF leadership can make a difference 
  • Honoring the Wilson family legacy and/or connecting to deeply held family values
  • Creating a sustained, long-term impact on the city of Memphis


We manage the foundation’s portfolio with care and want to work with you to best determine if your organization aligns with our current grantmaking strategy. Please contact our Executive DIrector, Carrie Burke, by phone at 901-726-3147 or e-mail a brief letter of intent to BEFORE applying.



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. 

There are two ways to get to the top of an oak tree. One way is to sit on an acorn and wait; the other way is to climb it.

Kemmons Wilson