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Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation

Oklahoma Landscape

Improving the Quality of Life in Rural Oklahoma

carolyn watson

Carolyn Watson was a woman of action and understood the value of blessing others with the gifts she was given. The longtime chair and CEO of Shamrock Bancshares wanted to improve the quality of life for the residents living in the rural southern Oklahoma communities where her banks are located. Born in Ada, Oklahoma, and a graduate of East Central University, Carolyn knew well where the needs and opportunities existed. In 1995, she established the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation and in 2010, the Carolyn Watson Opportunities Scholarship. Through these permanent endowment funds at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, she has provided teaching enhancements for classrooms, community literacy programs at public libraries and scholarships for students in designated rural Oklahoma communities. Carolyn died on March 17, 2014, at the age of 86. She leaves behind a truly meaningful legacy that will benefit future generations of rural Oklahomans.

Community Grants

The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation was established in 1995 by Carolyn Watson, the CEO and chairman of Shamrock Bank N.A. To date, the foundation has distributed more than $3 million to support nonprofit organizations in their efforts to enhance the quality of life in rural Oklahoma communities. The foundation’s grant programs are administered by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Important Dates & Deadlines

Grant Application Opens: Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Grant Information Meeting (Zoom): 3 p.m. on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 (register here)

Letter of Intent (LOI) Deadline: 5 p.m. on Friday, February 9, 2024

Grant Application Deadline: 5 p.m. on Friday, February 16, 2024

Grant Range

Up to $40,000

Geographic Focus

501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations serving rural communities within the following Oklahoma counties: ADAIR, ATOKA, BRYAN, CADDO, CHEROKEE, CHOCTAW, COAL, HASKELL, JOHNSTON, KIOWA, LATIMER, MCCURTAIN, MCINTOSH, OKFUSKEE, OR PUSHMATAHA.

NOTE: Priority will be given to projects targeting cities or towns with populations under 6,000.

Grant Categories

Category 1: Arts, Culture & History

  • Education and Access: Initiatives to enhance education, public engagement, and access to arts, culture, and history.
  • Cultural and Historical Preservation and Enhancement: Initiatives dedicated to preserving and celebrating the unique culture, history, and heritage of rural communities.

Category 2: Health & Safety

  • Direct Health Services: Initiatives providing essential health services to underserved or uninsured community members.
  • Healthcare Access and Capacity Enhancement: Projects that improve access to health services or strengthen the public health workforce.
  • Community Safety and Security: Projects aimed at enhancing local emergency and safety services, with an emphasis on supporting fire departments, EMS, and police departments.

Category 3: Libraries & Literacy

  • Library Enhancement: Initiatives to strengthen rural libraries as key community and knowledge centers.
  • Community-based Literacy Programs: Initiatives that take place outside of the formal education system to address community literacy needs. This can include early childhood and family literacy, tutoring programs, GED preparation, adult literacy, and English as a Second Language (ESL) programming.

Category 4: Economic Development

  • Programs that promote economic growth and stability in rural areas through workforce development, entrepreneurship support, vocational training in areas such as business planning, financial literacy, and technology, and community asset enhancement to attract investments.
Students participate in a drum circle during the 2023 Eufaula Summer Arts Program

How to Apply

Tishomingo School District's Fine Arts Summer Camp

1) Submit a Letter of Intent (LOI)

All potential applicants must fill out an online LOI form no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 9, 2024. To complete an LOI, go to our online grant portal (click here) and refer to the instructions on the homepage to log in. Once logged in, you will select the “Apply” icon in the top left-hand corner of your screen and input the access code ROCOMM24. Please direct all login and access questions to Keaton Van Sickle at [email protected].

2) Complete an Official Application

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will receive an email granting you access to the official application. The deadline to apply is 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 16, 2024.

How Can We Help You?

Featured Image

Leslie Woodward


Community Programs Manager

Featured Image

Keaton Van Sickle


Programs Associate