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The McCune Foundation places a high value on its historical investments and longstanding relationships with its nonprofit partners in southwestern Pennsylvania. Therefore, its Sunset Strategy is focused on “ending well” its work with grantees to advance and accelerate impacts in its core areas of grantmaking – Education, Human Services, Humanities and Civic.  


The Foundation makes grants in two categories: Standard and Sunset grants. Applications for both grant categories are by invitation only. Standard grants often precede a Sunset grant which is the Foundation’s final engagement with an organization.


Sunset Grants

Sunset grants can be designed for transformational or incremental results. Each Sunset grant is unique, guided by the organization’s history with the Foundation, its specific needs and opportunities, and the local context within which it is operating. All Sunset grants should be aligned with and additive to an organization’s existing priorities.


Sunset grants typically complete a body of work with a grantee, representing the culmination of a series of engagements in a specific area or a strategic investment in the organization as a whole. Often, Sunset grants focus on organizational sustainability and effectiveness, with a goal to strengthen grantees’ capacity to deliver on their missions with greater effectiveness over time. Sunset grants are also often structurally transformational for an organization, for the constituents they serve, or for both.


The Foundation awards Sunset grants at two levels:

  • Sunset grants up to $750,000 support timely and impactful opportunities for organizations. These awards can be fully expendable, often over a multi-year period, and are frequently targeted toward sustainability investments and strategic operational growth.


  • Select organizations may be eligible for Sunset grants over $750,000. These grants are designed with permanency of assets in mind; at least 75% of the awarded total must exist in perpetuity, while up to 25% can be expended. Sunset grants over $750,000 are:

    • Viewed as a permanent “living” asset that is grounded in a sustainable funding model, such as an endowment, revolving fund, reserve fund, or other long-living mechanism.

    • Additive to an organization’s core mission, and business model, helping to strengthen or accelerate activities.

    • Catalytic, in organizational or mission-related ways, for the betterment of the people of southwestern Pennsylvania.


The Foundation does not consider unsolicited requests for a Sunset grant. If your organization has a history with the McCune Foundation and you wish to discuss the possibility of submitting an inquiry for a Sunset grant, please contact Grants Manager Valerie Fahrny for more information.

Standard Grants

Until 2012, the Standard Grants program was the principal means by which the Foundation accomplished its mission. Under the Sunset Strategy, Standard grants have evolved to primarily support organizations on a trajectory toward a Sunset request. Standard grants fall into two categories:

  • Concept Testing grants fund organizations to pilot and assess strategic (and often transformational) opportunities, typically over multiple years. Prior to considering a Sunset request, the Foundation may award a Concept Testing grant to help an organization evaluate and refine an idea, and to further determine the soundness of the concept and a grantee’s ability to deliver on its objectives.

  • Readiness grants help organizations implement business model changes or other capacity or infrastructure needs. The main purpose of Readiness grants is to strengthen an organization before a possible Sunset grant.

Standard grants are tailored to an organization’s specific needs and unique operating context. They may be for one or multiple years. While Standard grants often support organizations along a Sunset trajectory with the Foundation, receipt of a Standard grant does not guarantee an invitation to apply for a Sunset grant.

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