Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation awards classroom enhancement grants and community grants in 20 counties in rural Oklahoma. It also has a scholarship fund for local high school seniors.

FUNDING AREAS: Rural Oklahoma public classrooms, arts and humanities, science, literacy, community, scholarships

IP TAKE: Foundation grants are not huge, but they are highly focused. Consider pitching a request for an arts, culture, or humanities program.

PROFILE: Established in 1995, the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation has permanent endowment funds at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Carolyn Watson was the longtime CEO and chair of Shamrock Bancshares and had banks in rural southern Oklahoma. She was born in Ada, Oklahoma, and graduated from East Central University. During her lifetime, she was deeply involved in this community and aimed to understand what the local needs here were. Her goal was to improve the lives of people in rural southern Oklahoma where her banks were located. This foundation is an affiliate foundation of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and they share a president. The foundation’s funding areas of interest are rural Oklahoma public classrooms, arts and humanities, science, literacy, community, and scholarships.

This foundation regularly awards grants for teaching enhancements for classrooms, community literacy programs at public libraries, and scholarships. The foundation sticks to three subjects for its community grant projects: arts and humanities, science, and literacy. Communities of less than 6,000 people in 20 counties in focus may pursue these grants. It also awards classroom enhancement grants to K-12 public school classrooms. A list of eligible school districts can be found on the classroom enhancement grants page.

Overall, grants range from $1,000 to $15,000. View lists of recent grants on the foundation website pages for each of its giving programs. The foundation’s grants serve 20 rural counties in Oklahoma: Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Jackson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Tillman, and Washita. The foundation looks to the National Center for Education Statistics’ rural codes to help determine grantee eligibility.

The foundation accepts unsolicited grant applications from local nonprofits, and the application process is online. View the funder’s website for the most current information about upcoming grant deadlines. Reach out to the foundation staff with general questions info@ruraloklahoma.org or 405-606-2920.

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