Leighton Award for Nonprofit Excellence

To recognize and encourage the work of our community’s very best nonprofit organizations, Judd and Mary Lou Leighton endowed the largest award program of its kind in 1999. Every other year, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County presents the Leighton Award for Nonprofit Excellence to a St. Joseph County nonprofit organization that demonstrates superior leadership, management, and programming. Our list of past Leighton Award winners includes some of community’s most remarkable and effective charities.

This highly competitive major award has two components:

  • A $150,000 endowment challenge grant, which must be matched dollar-for-dollar. The resulting $300,000 will be added to the winner’s endowed fund in the Community Foundation, providing annual support for that organization year after year.
  • A $25,000 cash grant which can be used at the organization’s discretion to help cover any additional fundraising and communication expenses, for general operating purposes, or be applied to the organization’s match.

The Leighton Award for Nonprofit Excellence is designed to:

  • Recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievement of a local nonprofit organization
  • Attract valuable resources to the award winner to help sustain its strength
  • Motivate all charities in our community to pursue excellence through the inspiring examples of the winners and the hope of a major award

Intent to Apply Deadline:

The deadline for the letter of intent to apply for the 2025 Leighton process is July 1, 2025. Candidates interested in applying should submit a letter of intent through the online grant system. (Applications will be available in the online grant system no later than June 5, 2025.)

Application Deadline and Details:

  • Organizations that are invited to submit a full application will be asked to do so through the online grant system. The deadline to submit the full application for the 2025 Leighton process is Friday, August 1, 2025, by 11:59 p.m.
  • You can preview the Leighton Award application questions before applying.
  • Download the Leighton Award for Nonprofit Excellence Guidelines. Please contact our Program Staff for additional information.
P.O. Box 837, South Bend, IN 46624 | 305 S. Michigan St., South Bend, IN 46601 | Phone: (574) 232-0041 | Fax: (574) 233-1906

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