Illumination Fund

The Illumination Fund offers grants to support student-led projects that arise from the implementation of Project Heart.

We believe that our Project Heart philanthropy program has the power to unleash the maker, doer and giver inside of every student and we want to invest in their ideas that have the power to transform their communities. That's why the Illumination Fund was designed specifically to support student-led projects that come from their Project Heart experience. Find a help guide and application when you're logged in as a Project Heart Member.

Illumination Fund Member Page

Requirements for the Illumination Fund

In order to be considered for a grant through the Illumination Fund, projects must be student-led and arise from the implementation of Project Heart learning. Service oriented Impact Projects, such as a cleanup day or making/building something for a school or nonprofit, can apply for a materials grant to purchase required supplies. Impact Projects that are fundraising events or collection drives can apply to receive a matching grant for their efforts. 

Grant Cycle and Details

  • Applications are reviewed monthly. Award notifications will be sent no later than 45 days after the completed student application is submitted.
  • If funded, the grant must be paid to the school or to a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
  • Due to the high volume of requests for the Illumination Fund, OtterCares has set a limit of two applications per class per school year. For nonprofit organizations, two applications per program per calendar year will be considered. If your class or nonprofit has more than two student projects, please use an internal vetting process to select the best projects for submission to OtterCares.


Application Process

Educator will...

  • Integrate Project Heart lessons
    1. Teacher or program facilitator integrates Project Heart lessons into instruction with K-12 students. Share the grant template questions with your students ahead of time, make a copy HERE.
  • Submit pre-application
    • Teacher or program facilitator submits a pre-application as found on our member page. Note: The pre-application will include the name and email address of the student project leader as well as the project title and summary, which you can copy from student pre-work.
  • Support students when main application is sent
    • Within 10 business days, OtterCares will review the pre-application. If the project idea meets Illumination Fund criteria, a link for the main application will be emailed to you and the student project leader.
    • Once the application is submitted, no changes can be made. Students are encouraged to proofread their content prior to submission to ensure all answers are complete and error free.

Please note that in addition to the student contact information, the following will be required in the pre-application:

  • What is the name of the organization or school that the Impact Project will benefit? This can be your school if students are doing a project to benefit your school, otherwise this should be a 501c3 nonprofit (will need to include Tax ID)
  • Impact Project Name (from student pre-work)
  • 1-2 sentence summary of the Impact Project (from student pre-work)
  • Please share a brief narrative about how you are using Project Heart in your classroom or program. This can include which lessons you have used so far, how you creatively integrated Project Heart into your existing curriculum, why you started using Project Heart or anything to help us understand your experience with Project Heart.
  • What are your intended student learning outcomes? 
  • Do you have any other funding plans or partnerships to support the student project(s)?


Funding Requirements & Limitations

  • Students may request a grant of up to $500 to provide either materials for their project OR a matching donation to a nonprofit.
  • If awarded, grants will be issued to either the student's school or to the 501c3 nonprofit of the student's choice.

  • All grant recognition should be attributed to the OtterCares Foundation. Approved logos and brand guidelines will be provided via email, upon request.

Please be advised that OtterCares does not currently fund for the following:

  • Political campaigns and/or legislative lobbying efforts
  • Reproductive choice advocacy groups
  • Direct support for individuals
  • Building/construction projects
  • General operating support/unrestricted funds
  • Travel expenses

Register as a member and login to your account to access the Illumination Fund Application.

Illumination Fund Member Page