What is the application deadline?

We are not currently accepting grant applications. Grants are open for submission from February 1- March 1, and again from August 1- September 1 each year. For emergency requests or questions, please contact us at (406) 969-5865 or email LOI@highstakesfoundation.org.

What is the application deadline?

We are currently accepting grant applications. Grants are open for submission from February 1- March 1, and again from August 1- September 1 each year. For emergency requests or questions, please contact us at (406) 969-5865 or email LOI@highstakesfoundation.org.

Are you an...
Organization described in section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code?
General funding guidelines

Funding Priorities:  We fund organizations that work on systems change. If your organization is focused on solutions to the pressing issues in the fields of civic engagement, conservation, climate change, social justice, leadership, rural economic development, local food systems, or sustainability in Montana we are interested in having a conversation. Let’s discuss how your work fits into creating present and future change that can make our place more equitable, sustainable, and resilient?

  • If your organization received a grant from the High Stakes Foundation in the previous year, please submit a year end update on your program prior to submitting an LOI. Click here for instructions: Year-End Reports to High Stakes
  • We support diverse fundraising and nonprofit resilience. If your organization has received funding from the High Stakes Foundation five consecutive years, we ask that you take a year off and secure one new funding source before applying again.
  • We typically grant between $10,000 and $30,000 and up to 10% of an organization’s general operating budget. Rarely do we award grants that exceed the $30,000 limit.
  • Activities supported by grants and program-related investments must be charitable, educational, or scientific, as defined under the appropriate provisions of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations or fit the requirements for program-related investments according to the IRS. The foundation monitors grants through regular financial and narrative reports submitted by the grantee. All grantees will enter a grant agreement with HSF.
Funding categories

Civic Engagement:

Engaged citizens can play a critical role in making public institutions more transparent, accountable, and effective, and contributing innovative solutions to development challenges. Through civic engagement, such as voting and volunteering, people develop and use knowledge, skills, and voice to cultivate positive change. Such actions can help improve the conditions that influence health and well-being for all.

HSF supports changemakers working to engage, inform and activate constituents in support of a vibrant, just democracy.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Civic Engagement Grantees page on our website.


Climate Change:

Global climate change is not a future problem. Changes to Earth’s climate driven by increased human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having widespread effects on the environment: glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, river and lake ice is breaking up earlier, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting, and plants and trees are blooming sooner.
Effects that scientists had long predicted would result from global climate change are now occurring, such as sea ice loss, accelerated sea level rise, and longer, more intense heat waves.

Climate Scientist James Dyke writes, “Sometimes we only notice a sound when it stops. The time has come to turn off the alarms, to fully wake up, and listen to the silence it creates. This silence is full of possibilities. We cannot wish away decades of slumber. But we can take an unflinching look into our future and now, finally, do the work to shape it. “ Ask each other two questions: What is at stake? What am I going to do about it?

We welcome radical proposals that will make a difference.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Climate Change Grantees page on our website.



Montana is known for its open spaces and wildlife. Our focus has often been on Crown of the Continent lands which extends from our southern border by Yellowstone to Glacier National Park across the Pintlers and the Bob Marshall Wilderness to Waterton Park in Canada. The Crown enfolds over 10-million acres of some of the most intact wildland on the entire North American continent. This region provides refuge for wildlife that’s threatened elsewhere, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx, fisher, gray wolves and bull trout.

In addition to conserving our natural resources for protecting landscape and species, there’s a strong economic argument for protecting Montana’s Natural Resources. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outdoor industry is a cornerstone of Montana’s economy. In 2020, outdoor recreation added $2.2 B to Montana’s economy. Outdoor recreation in Montana made up 4.3% of the state’s GDP in 2020, with the highest percentage in the country (Hawaii was second with 3.8%). Montana’s outdoor industry also provided 26,000 jobs (5.4% of the state’s total employment).

Note: HSF does not fund species counts or scientific research.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Conservation Grantees page on our website.


Economic Development:

COVID hit Montana small businesses, especially those typically fueled by tourism, uniquely hard. With around one-third of the state’s workforce employed in the service sector, the reverberations of the pandemic will likely continue to impact our local economies for decades to come. Vibrant, diverse, healthy main street economies will be critical to our state’s recovery. HSF is committed to supporting organizations working to address economic security as it is a cornerstone to a truly just society.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Economic Development Grantees page on our website.



Leadership is the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to influence and guide followers or other members of an organization. Organizations are only as effective as their leaders and that is why HSF invests in training and mentoring leaders.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Leadership Grantees page on our website.


Local Food Systems:

Strong local food systems are a critical part of building resilient, local economies and communities. Growing, processing, and distributing healthy nutritious and affordable food is a primary ingredient in creating a thriving local economy.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Local Food Systems Grantees page on our website.


Social Justice:

According to the John Lewis Institute for Social Justice, “Social Justice is a communal effort dedicated to creating and sustaining a fair and equal society in which each person and all groups are valued and affirmed. It encompasses efforts to end systemic violence and racism and all systems that devalue the dignity and humanity of any person. It recognizes that the legacy of past injustices remains all around us, so therefore promotes efforts to empower individual and communal action in support of restorative justice and the full implementation of human and civil rights.” As we have seen, progress isn’t linear and in the last few years things have felt increasingly and depressingly chaotic. Continued funding in this area feels essential.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Social Justice Grantees page on our website.



Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations. Maintaining and/or reducing our carbon footprint on the land is one of our core values and for the most part our grants in this area have focused on re-use, recycling, and upcycling.

To see a list of previous grantees in this category, visit the Sustainability Grantees page on our website.


High Stakes Foundation does not fund:
  • Organizations that are NOT described as 501(c)3 non-profits
  • Capital campaigns
  • Projects initiated or mandated by any order of government
  • Political lobbying
  • General social service organizations
  • Litigation, unless it supports the foundations of democracy
  • Research studies including species and habitat studies even if they fall within our climate change penumbra
  • Religious organizations
  • Hospitals or medical clinics
How to Apply

Click below for information on how to apply. We want to make this as simple as possible for you and for us. Since we generally fund general operating expenses, tell us what you are passionately working on these days and how you expect that work to make a difference at a systems change level. If it takes more than an hour to complete the entire application, something has gone wrong…..



After reviewing your application...

After reviewing your application, we may invite a full proposal or simply proceed with a site visit. We will set up a Zoom call or in person discussion for all applicants who have made it through our initial review process. Please do not submit a full proposal with your application. We value your time and want you to keep your focus on your organizational goals.

Further questions contact:

Please leave a message and we’ll return your call.

Use of High Stakes Foundation name and logo

If you are a current grantee and would like to use The High Stakes Foundation’s name or logo in printed or digital materials, please send a request describing the intended use to ann@highstakesfoundation.org. Approved types of uses include but are not limited to non-profit newsletters, annual reports, and donor pages on your organization’s website. We also ask that you share a link or hard copy of the final piece with us upon completion.