Spotlight on the Spotlight Grant: New Grant Year Comes with Increased Flexibility
Shelter-in-place mandates. Social distancing. New normal. Since the COVID-19 pandemic became reality in March 2020, we’ve seen our lives change in unfathomable ways. Project planning continues to be difficult, if not impossible.

The grant year launched on April 1, with $3.7 million available to eligible Lodges through the Gratitude Grants, delaying the opening to June 1, for all other grant components. Now, we are ready to wade back in, but with caution, due to the continued uncertainty. On June 1, we will release $3.7 million for the Spotlight Grants. These $2,000 grants are available to every Lodge to shine the light on COVID-19 relief, for there is no more pressing issue facing American communities than the response to the pandemic. But the needs will look different in different communities, so we’ve built in more flexibility this year.

Here are things to consider.

Act now.

In normal times, donating a Spotlight Grant would not be permissible. These are not normal times, so we’re adapting that approach this year. A Lodge can consider a more active use of funds, e.g. purchasing food and supplies and delivering items to a shelter or food pantry. However, if donating directly to an organization in the community that is better equipped to serve populations in need affected by the pandemic, it will be allowed. The funds must go to directly support pandemic relief and cannot be split between multiple projects.

Hold off.

Beacon Grants will likely open on August 1*. At that time, Lodges will have the option to supersize the $3,000 Beacon Grant with a Spotlight Grant, if planning and executing a large-scale project is safe and doable.

Ready Made.

In 2019-20, the Spotlight Grant debuted with off-the-shelf projects designed to give every Lodge the opportunity to shine a light on two important issues facing nearly every American community—family literacy and homelessness among our nation’s veterans. The pandemic is likely to intensify these issues moving forward.

A Lodge that received a Spotlight Grant and would like to continue the project is welcome to do so. A Lodge looking for something ready-made can choose one of the project plans offered. Caveat: if approved, grant funds will not be released until it is safe to hold a project where hands-on Lodge involvement is required.

Spotlight Grant funds cannot be split between multiple projects.

Lodges do need to be in grant compliance, but do not need to meet the GER's per-member-giving goal to apply.

Click here for a few causes that could benefit from Lodge grant support. Your Lodge may identify others. You know your community best.

*The next phase of the 2021 grant year rollout will likely be August 1. Beacon, Promise and Impact grants remain under consideration.

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