CER Chalice Lighter Grant Frequently Asked Questions

CER Chalice Lighter Logo

Is your congregation or cluster ready to catch fire with a Chalice Lighter Grant? Learn more.

What is the purpose and mission of the Chalice Lighter Grant Program?

The Chalice Lighter Grant program exists to offer individuals a way to sustain and promote Unitarian Universalism in the Central East Region through small, regular financial contributions. Gathered together, these contributions fund Chalice Lighter Grants for projects that will enliven congregations, covenanting communities and groups of congregations, so that they and Unitarian Universalism will thrive now and in the future.

Who is eligible?

A Congregation, covenanting community or group of congregations that

  • has been a member of the UUA and Central East Region for at least one year.
  • is an honor congregation unless a special waiver is granted.
  • has not been awarded a Chalice Lighter grant in the past two fiscal years.

Preference is given to congregations, covenanting communities or group of congregations that can show that they are

  • actively working to build a just, antiracist, inclusive community
  • actively working to combat climate change.
  • in support of the Chalice Lighter program with at least 20% of their members Chalice Lighter donors.

What size grant can our church apply for?

The actual grant amount will be determined by what is needed to accomplish a specific project.

  • Regular Grants
    Grant amounts will range between a minimum $10,000 and a maximum of $20,000. The grant can fund up to 80% of the cost of the project.
  • Enhanced Grant for Large Capital Projects
    A grant of $40,000 may be requested for large capital projects such as land acquisition, construction, or major renovation. This size grant can fund up to 20% of the cost of the project.

What kind of projects are eligible?

The Committee is looking to fund projects that will

  • increase the vitality of a congregation, covenanting community or group of congregations and increase its capacity to serve its mission.
  • help spark the work and message of Unitarian Universalism within its community and the Central East Region.
  • fit with the congregation, covenanting community or group of congregations’ vision for the next 3 years.
  • demonstrate a likelihood of success.
  • align with the mission and purpose of the CER Chalice Lighter program.

Examples of projects that can be supported by Chalice Lighter Grants include

  • supporting capital projects such as construction, expansion or renovation of facilities including improving ventilation technology for covid safety or reducing the carbon footprint of their facilities.
  • adding or increasing time for staff, such as Minister, Director of Religious Education, Music Director, office administrator, membership coordinator and other staff positions.
  • upgrading capacity for hybrid worship and virtual outreach
  • innovative, creative projects to help attract or retain members, and promote justice, compassion, and spirituality.

How are grants paid out?

Grants for land, new buildings and expansion or renovation of existing buildings; grants for innovative/other growth projects; and grants for organizing a new congregation are usually paid in a lump sum. Grants for other purposes, such as hiring church staff, are typically paid out monthly over three years (50% the first year, 30% the second, and 20% the third).

How do I apply for a Chalice Lighter grant?

  • First, read the complete description of program requirements found in the Chalice Lighter Grant Policies and Procedures Document (PDF).
  • If you decide to move forward, complete and submit the Intent to Apply Online Form. This short form asks for contact information, the type of grant you plan to apply for, and a brief project summary. This process must be authorized by the congregation’s board of trustees. This Word Document version is for helping you gather the necessary information only, you must complete the Intent to Apply Online Form.
  • A member of the Chalice Lighter Program Committee will become your grant manager to guide you throughout the process of applying and administering the grant. Applicants must provide a project manager to act as the point of contact for the life of the project.
  • Submit the online Application and supporting documents or links to online documents by the deadline for the grant cycle in which you wish to be considered. We provide a word document of the application for you to review and gather information, but you must submit your final application online. Please note that you cannot save your progress within the online forms before submitting.

When can I apply for a Chalice Lighter grant?

  • If your Intent to Apply form is received by March 1, your full application is due May 1, and reviewed in May.
  • If your Intent to Apply form is received by August 1, your full application is due October 1, and reviewed in October.
  • If your Intent to Apply form is received by December 1, the full application is due February 1, and reviewed in February.

What makes a successful Chalice Lighter grant application?

  • A clear plan and budget for an initiative or project that will enhance growth of the congregation, cluster or region in numbers as well as in justice, compassion and spirituality.
  • Information on current or planned programs on anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism.
  • Benchmarks to evaluate the success of the project.
  • Honor Congregation status in the UUA Annual Program Fund. In special circumstances the committee may consider a waiver of this requirement.
  • Support for the Chalice Lighter Program by pledging to appoint a Chalice Lighter Ambassador, and work to have a minimum 20% of members enrolled as Chalice Lighters. Preference is given to congregations that meet these requirements prior to applying.

How are Chalice Lighter grants reviewed and decided?

After you have submitted a full grant application, the committee will meet to review all the applications received in the same grant cycle and determine which to fund. Soon afterward, your assigned Grant Manager will be in touch with the Project Manager from your congregation to share the committee's decision. Your church also will receive a written letter as notification of the committee's decision.

If our grant is approved, what happens next?

If the grant is awarded, the Project Manager will make payout arrangements with the Grant Manager and CER Financial Manager.

If our congregation’s grant is not approved, can we reapply?

If your grant is not approved, your Grant Manager can provide feedback on your application and the Committee's decision. Your Grant Manager also can comment on whether the project may be resubmitted for consideration after suggested changes are made.

What grant reports are needed if we receive a Chalice Lighter grant?

If your congregation is awarded a Chalice Lighter grant, you are expected to provide a grant report after six months and an annual grant report for each year over the life of the project, including information about the results and changes in attendance figures over time. Due dates for grant reports will be included in the formal grant award letter that will be mailed to the church shortly after the Chalice Lighter grant review meeting.

How can our church help to keep the Chalice Lighter Program strong?

Please help us to recruit new contributors and build awareness of the Chalice Lighter program. For example, members of your congregation can help organize Chalice Lighter Sunday or other programs to encourage people to sign up to become Chalice Lighters.

Need more information or have questions?

Contact the CER Chalice Lighter Program Committee and Beth Casebolt, CER Operations Manager and Communications Consultant, at chalicelighters@cerguua.org