The Challenge

The seeds of talent are distributed evenly across our community, but the soil of opportunity is not. To provide every child and family the chance to thrive, we need to empower a new generation of leaders committed to maximizing our collective potential.

  • Breaking the cycle of poverty is often a slow, painful, and nonlinear process.

    We believe there are no shortcuts to economic independence and that resilience isn't built overnight. We believe meaningful relationships drive real, durable change. That's why we focus on grantees who make a deep investment in people over time.

  • Even the most talented social entrepreneurs face a formidable gap when their organizations reach the “second stage” of development.

    Seed funding often dries up before a young organization can establish a track record of results. This, in turn, limits support from risk-averse traditional foundations and earned-income opportunities. As this funding gap looms, leadership teams are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time aggregating small donations, crowding out long-term investments in talent, data, and financial systems.

  • “The Arbor Rising team stands out in a class of their own as true partners to KindWork.”

    Kate Doyle, KindWork Co-Founder and Executive Director

Image by KindWork

Our Solution

To help grantees cross this second-stage gap, Arbor Rising employs an engaged philanthropy approach. This means providing large unrestricted grants and high-dosage consulting support to the most promising nonprofit leaders in our community.

1. Find

high-potential nonprofits

We focus on partnering with organizations that are...


“Is the leader committed to the problem but flexible enough to continue refining her solution?”  We find this essential mindset most often in organizations with:

  • 1 – 10 years of operating history
  • 2 – 10 staff members
  • Annual budget below $2.5M

Building a Path Out of Poverty

We support programs making deep investments in people–solutions that build a path out of poverty, rather than addressing the symptoms. We typically focus our grantmaking in the fields of:

  • Education
  • Youth development
  • Employment


Identifying high-potential organizations is both an art and a science. Our selection process prioritizes:

  • Diverse management teams with demonstrated tenacity, humility, and a history of achievement
  • Program models featuring a clear Theory of Change which links the target population, intervention “dosage,” and intended outcomes

Historically, our portfolio has been anchored in the NY-NJ-CT area, though starting in 2024 we will be accepting applications from other regions.  Applicants from any of the lower 48 states will be eligible, but special consideration will be given to nonprofits in the Eastern and Central time zones and those serving mid-size cities or rural areas.

2. Fund

meaningfully-sized and flexibly-structured grants

After an annual selection process optimized for fairness, transparency, and brevity (~10 weeks from initial application to award), we provide an unrestricted grant to each member of our portfolio before kicking off our consulting projects.

Over our target three-year engagement, our aggregate financial support totals $3750,000 for each grantee.

These contributions are underwritten by a committed pool of funders including family foundations, individuals, and donor-advised funds.  Arbor Rising and its grantees are 501(c)(3) public charities, so all contributions are fully tax-deductible.


3. Support

capacity-building consulting & authentic partnership

We invest hundreds of hours of tailored support each year, with each grantee, to co-develop the systems and culture fundamental for building great organizations.

What We Do

We travel to grantees’ offices on average every other week (with homework in between!) for up to three years, working together on a series of projects designed to firm up the pillars of nonprofit organizational strength:  outcomes orientation, financial management, growth planning, and stakeholder engagement.

How We Do It

To be successful we need to walk with humility, listen first, and patiently invest the time required to become trusted partners.

This deeper partnership confers two key benefits:

  • Authentic Buy-In: We take the time to fully understand grantee challenges and build solutions together. The trust we develop gives weight to our ideas and helps drive their implementation.
  • Candid Feedback: Given our our broader sector perspective and vested interest in grantee success, we can provide the context and feedback necessary for periodic course corrections.


We are our best when we stand together.

  • Arbor Rising recognizes that institutional racism and unconscious bias continue to disproportionately deny people of color access to opportunity. We believe that in order to fulfill our mission to support organizations building paths out of poverty, we need to deploy our grantmaking resources with these racial barriers in mind.

    To this end, we have committed to learning from like-minded leaders, adopting best practices, and earmarking specific resources to promote diversity, equity and inclusion both within our portfolio and our organization. We note that in 2022, 52% of our resources were invested in supporting BIPOC-led organizations and DEI initiatives in our portfolio.  Read more on our vision, efforts and equity metrics here.


We are inspired every day by the phenomenal leaders with whom we work.