Carolyn Watson Rural Community Foundation

Oklahoma Landscape

Making a Better Community for Greater Oklahoma.

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, Okla., 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.

carolyn watson

Classroom Enhancement Grants

Designed to enhance and enrich learning opportunities for students in rural Oklahoma, classroom enhancement grants are awarded to pre-K through 12th-grade classrooms for projects focusing on STEM, Literacy, History and Arts & Culture.

Classroom Grant Applications
Now Open!

Designed to improve the quality of life in rural Oklahoma, classroom grants provide an opportunity for Pre-K through 12th-grade educators to go beyond traditional curriculum and enrich the teaching environment for their students and provide students with resources they would not otherwise have access to in their everyday classroom activities.

  • Monday, July 31, 2023
    Grant applications open.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, 5 p.m.
    Last day to request access to apply.
  • Friday, Sept. 15, 2022, 5 p.m.
    Grant application deadline.

Application Process

Submit a Letter of Intent (LOI)

To gain access to the official application, all potential applicants must fill out the online LOI form by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 8, 2023. To complete an LOI, go to our online grant portal (click here) and refer to the instructions on the homepage to log in. Once you have logged in, you will select the “Apply” icon in the top left-hand corner of your screen and input the access code CLASS23. Please direct all login and access questions to Keaton Van Sickle at [email protected].

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, September 15, 2023. All applicants will receive a decision notification by mid- to late October 2023.


Please feel free to reach out to Leslie Woodward at [email protected]  or (405) 606-2911 if you have any questions!

Program Overview

Areas of Study

Grants will be awarded to support projects in four areas of study:

  • Arts & Culture
  • Social Studies
  • English Language Arts
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)


Oklahoma public schools, grades Pre-K through 12, that meet the following criteria are eligible to apply:


  • Designated with a locale code of 41, 42 or 43 by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).
  • Total average daily attendance (ADA) of fewer than 600 students.
  • To determine whether your school is eligible to apply, please refer to the master eligibility list. Keep in mind that your school must be located in one of the 23 designated counties listed above.

Funding Limitations

Funding for the following items will generally not be supported unless essential to the success of the project:


  • Virtual or distance learning projects
  • Accelerated Reader programs unless they are supplemented with activities and/or curricula that go beyond the traditional AR approach
  • Office equipment or furniture
    Computers (including Chromebooks), SMART boards, projectors, televisions, hot spots, or any hardware designed for virtual/distance learning
  • Athletic, extracurricular or service-learning activities or equipment


Our Stories

Carolyn Watson Rural Community Foundation is Improving the Quality of Life in Oklahoma

Business woman and longtime Coalgate, Oklahoma resident Carolyn Watson realized many people living in rural areas didn’t have the resources needed to improve their quality of life. Working with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation she created the Carolyn Watson Opportunities Scholarship, Classroom grants, and Community Network grants to help those in need. If you have a desire to make a difference in your community, the Community Foundation can help you too. Go to to find out how.

Community Grants

The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation was established in 1995 to improve the quality of life in rural Oklahoma. A grant program was adopted by the Foundation’s Trustees to support projects and programs that provide opportunities for citizens to improve their communities in the areas of 1) ARTS/CULTURE/HISTORY, 2) LIBRARIES/LITERACY, 3) HEALTH & SAFETY and 4) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

Important Dates

  • Grant application opens: Monday, December 4, 2023
  • Deadline to request application access: Friday, February 9, 2024, 5:00 pm
  • Grant application deadline: Friday, February 16, 2024, 5:00 pm

Areas of Interest

We seek to support projects and programs in the following focus areas:

  • Arts/Culture/History
  • Libraries/Literacy
  • Health and Safety
  • Economic Development

Preference will be given to projects/programs that:

  • Feature community partnerships, collaboration and buy-in
  • Encourage community participation and engagement
  • Benefit a broad range of individuals in the community

Examples of the types of projects/programs we seek to support are provided under each focus area below.

1. Arts/Culture/History

  • Projects that enhance or preserve a community’s culture, history and heritage.
  • Examples include public exhibitions, educational programming and historic preservation planning.
  • Public art projects that enhance public spaces for community use and interaction.
  • Educational programming that increases public access to arts/culture/history.

2. Libraries/Literacy

  • Projects that seek to strengthen the role of rural libraries as a community resource and public knowledge center.
  • Programming designed to increase public access to libraries and other literary services for citizens. This can include increasing access for specific target groups such as citizens with disabilities or ESL students.
  • Projects designed to improve literacy skills including basic reading, writing, math, GED preparation, and workplace literacy.
  • Programs that promote early literacy and reading activities to families, parents and childcare providers.

3. Health & Safety

  • Programs that provide direct services to underserved and/or uninsured citizens in their local communities. Preference will be given to programs delivering services that are not covered by general health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
  • Programs that improve the safety and security of community members.

4. Economic Development

  • Projects that contribute to a community’s economic growth and stability.
  • Projects that provide access to resources that can stimulate employment opportunities.

Grant Range

Up to $40,000

Geographic Focus

Charitable organizations and state or local government entities delivering programs/projects in communities with populations under 6,000 in the rural Oklahoma counties of ADAIR, ATOKA, BRYAN, CADDO, CHEROKEE, CHOCTAW, COAL, HASKELL, JOHNSTON, KIOWA, LATIMER, MCCURTAIN, MCINTOSH, OKFUSKEE AND PUSHMATAHA.


  • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that serve the eligible Oklahoma counties listed above.
  • Nonexempt organizations that qualify for the use of charitable dollars such as schools, local government agencies, or state/city-connected agencies may apply as long as the funding request is for public programs that take place in eligible Oklahoma counties.
  • Grants will not be made to individuals or private foundations.

Recent Grants

In 2021, the trustees of the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation awarded $42,500 in grants to four organizations for projects in rural Oklahoma.

Hobart Public Library – $3,000 to add the Overdrive e-book service, allowing library goers free access to digital content.

Choctaw County Ambulance Authority – $15,000 to support Project Legacy, an initiative providing emergency medical services and CPR training in Choctaw, Pushmataha and McCurtain counties.

Checotah Public Schools – $9,500 to support Creative Expressions Throughout Small Town Checotah, a placemaking project where students and community stakeholders collaborate to paint murals at several sites.

Science Museum Oklahoma – $15,000 to support STEM experiences at the Checotah and Westville public libraries, providing engaging and hands-on science programming as well as professional development, turnkey activities and more.

How Can We Help You?

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Leslie Woodward

Community Programs Manager

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Keaton Van Sickle

Programs Associate