The Dr. Seuss Foundation provides grants in San Diego through approved funding cycles each year, or by invitation.

Funding Focus – Early Literacy

Research shows that children’s earliest years—from birth to age eight—are critical for developing the social, emotional, and academic skills that lay the groundwork for later success in school and in life. Studies also note that students of color and those from underserved communities often perform at a lower level than their peers from more advantaged communities. The Dr. Seuss Foundation supports evidence-based programs which increase the number of children who enter school ready to learn and thrive, and who are proficient readers by the time they enter fourth grade.

Specifically, the Foundation supports:

• Instructional Quality Improvements and Educational Staff Support
• Early Education Service and Program Expansions
• Strong, Healthy Starts for Children and New Parents
• Expanding access to programs and information that support caregivers in their role as their child’s first teacher
• Offering children extended learning opportunities that expand upon strong in-school teaching and learning
• Programs which integrate Creative Youth Development (Arts Education) and Environmental Education into their work will receive special consideration
• Promoting awareness of evidence-based practices and evaluating and improving programs and services
• Advocating for expanded public funding for early learning programs

Geographic Focus

The Foundation will primarily make grants to organizations that support projects located within San Diego.


To be eligible for a grant from The Dr. Seuss Foundation, your organization must be a tax-exempt charitable organization in good standing, as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

What we do NOT fund

  • Grants to individuals.
  • Grants to private foundations or regranting organizations.
  • Grants for debt retirement or to cover operating deficits.
  • Requests for current programming or general support.
  • Unsolicited requests for special event or gala sponsorship.
  • Activities intended to influence legislation or support candidates for political office.
  • Activities for religious or doctrinal purposes, although faith-based organizations may apply for program support.
  • Organizations that do not comply with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Grants for endowment or capital development will be considered only rarely.

Application Process

The Dr. Seuss Foundation provides grants in San Diego through approved funding cycles each year, or by invitation. No grants under $10,000 will be considered. There will be one granting cycle for 2023, which will open June 1, 2023 for submissions. The anticipated application schedule is below.

  • June 1: LOI submissions open 7am PT
  • June 14: Optional virtual grantseeker workshop (registration details to come!)
  • July 1: LOI submissions close 5pm PT
  • Mid-August: Applicants notified of LOI decisions via email
  • Mid-September: Full Proposals due
  • November: Applicants notified of Full Proposal decisions via email
  • November: Grant agreements finalized, funding disbursements made

Letter of Intent (LOI) and Request for Full Proposal

All applicants must complete the LOI via the Grantee Portal. LOIs will be accepted and reviewed based on the above three funding cycles, and evaluated based on eligibility and fit with Foundation priorities. Applicants will be notified via email whether they have been invited to submit a full proposal or if their request has been denied. An invitation to submit a full proposal does not guarantee funding.

Applications (LOI and full proposals) should include:

  • how the proposed program will expand beyond, or add to, current programming
  • what impact the proposed program is expected to have and how this impact will be measured
  • whether the proposed program is anticipated to scale and/or be adapted by others
  • how the proposed program addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • how requested funding will be used to leverage funds and/or resources from other partners

Note: the apply button is only activated during the open LOI submission periods.

Full Proposal Submission and Review

Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will do so via the Grantee Portal. Invited applicants will have approximately one month to submit. Guidelines for creating a budget and a recommended budget format can be found below. The review process will begin after a full proposal has been submitted. Additional information, follow-up conversations, or site visits may be requested.

Building a Budget: Direct and Indirect Costs

Dr. Seuss Foundation prefers to fund direct project costs, but understands that, particularly with smaller organizations, the recovery of indirect costs is a necessity. The Foundation calculates indirect costs as a percentage of direct project costs. If indirect costs exceed 20 percent of direct costs, and the applicant can provide justification for the amount, it may be accepted and the grant approved. If the applicant’s explanation is insufficient to justify the higher rate, the applicant will be notified that its grant request may not be approved. If the percentage appears reasonable, the Foundation usually approves the inclusion of indirect costs in the budget.

Direct costs are those for activities or services that benefit specific projects, e.g., salaries for project staff and materials required for a particular project. Because these activities are easily traced to projects, their costs are usually charged to projects on an item-by-item basis.

Indirect costs are those for activities or services that benefit more than one project. Their precise benefits to a specific project are often difficult or impossible to trace. For example, it may be difficult to determine precisely how the activities of the director of an organization benefit a specific project.

It is possible to justify the handling of almost any kind of cost as either direct or indirect. Labor costs, for example, can be indirect, as in the case of maintenance personnel and administrative assistants; or they can be direct, as in the case of project staff members. Similarly, materials such as miscellaneous supplies purchased in bulk — pencils, pens, paper — are typically handled as indirect costs, while materials required for specific projects are charged as direct costs.

Costs usually charged directly

  • Project staff
  • Consultants
  • Project supplies
  • Publications
  • Travel

Costs either charged directly or allocated indirectly

  • Telephone charges
  • Computer use
  • Project clerical personnel
  • Postage and printing
  • Miscellaneous office supplies

Costs usually allocated indirectly

  • Utilities
  • Rent
  • Audit and legal
  • Administrative staff
  • Equipment rental

In-kind contributions

In-kind contributions include materials, equipment or services that are given without charge to the program or organization. These items should not be included in the budget of cash revenues and cash expenditures submitted with proposals to the Foundation. However, in-kind contributions should be noted in the project budget narrative. The final accounting on the grant must report against the approved budget submitted with the proposal and the actual cumulative expenditures since the start of the grant. In order to determine if all sources of funds were disbursed, actual cash expenditures are compared with actual cash revenues received; in-kind contributions are excluded from this calculation in determining if a refund is due to the Foundation.

Capital equipment

A grant to an organization may include the purchase of capital equipment, which generally includes such items as computers, office furniture and other items. Books purchased to enhance a library may also be considered capital equipment. On the other hand, office supplies and other consumable items are not generally considered capital equipment. Books purchased for limited research purposes are not considered capital equipment. (indirect costs can not be included in direct costs)

Budget Format

Budgets submitted should include 1) itemized budget for the entire project (or for the amount requested) including all revenue sources known to date, and 2) justification showing how each budget line item relates to the project and how the budgeted amount was calculated.

Budgets are generally broken down into two main sections: personnel costs and non-personnel costs. Salaries and benefits should include all staff salaries allocated to the project. Each position and percentage of time devoted to the project should also be identified. Contracted services, including an estimation of the hours and hourly rate, should be listed separately from salaries. Supporting detail should also be provided for all other major non-personnel line items.

Example of preferred budget format

Example of a sample budget

Final Decision

Applicants will be notified via email once decisions have been made. If awarded, an applicant will receive a grant agreement for review and signature pending any additional due diligence requirements. The grant agreement will outline reporting and other requirements. Payment of the grant will be processed, typically within 30 days once the signed agreement is received. Receiving a grant does not guarantee future funding.

Grant FAQ

What and who will the Dr. Seuss Foundation fund?

Our focus is on improving literacy and learning as these are essential to succeeding in the multi-layered worlds of the arts and humanities, health and well-being, animal welfare, and the environment.

To be eligible for a grant, an organization must be a tax-exempt charitable organization in good standing, as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. See additional eligibility requirements under the Grantseeker section.

What geographic areas does the Dr. Seuss Foundation provide support?

Currently we fund projects in San Diego. Please note that a nonprofit does not need to be headquartered in San Diego, California to be considered, but the applying program must serve San Diego.

How do I apply for funding?

All applicants—including existing and past grantees—must register and submit letter of intent (LOI) via the Grantee Portal.

If an organization can no longer access the Grantee Portal because previous contacts have left, send an email with the name/email of the new contact using our Contact Form.

What is an appropriate request amount?

Grant awards are dependent on project, organizational capacity, partnerships, and other factors. No request below $10,000 will be considered.

How many grants may an organization be awarded?

An applicant may apply as often as they like, but may only be awarded one grant per year.

Will applicants receive feedback if proposals are declined?

Due to the volume of applications received, individual feedback cannot be offered.

Does the Dr. Seuss Foundation accept meetings with applicants?

The Foundation may request a meeting after an applicant submits an LOI.

What if I have other questions?

Please send an inquiry using our Contact Form.