What are Community Foundation Grants?

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  • Written By: Sheryl Butterfield
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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Community foundation grants are monies given to a program for the betterment of that community. Donations can come from private donors to large corporations. In turn, the community foundation sets up funds from which it allocates money to local, regional, national or even worldwide programs.

Community foundations began forming in the U.S. around 1914. Cleveland, Ohio businessman Frederick Goff established The Cleveland Foundation to separate banking business from charitable trust management. The idea spread nationally and then worldwide. Community foundations all over the world manage many billions of dollars. The New York Community Trust is the largest community foundation in the U.S. Foundations can be found in Europe, Australia and Africa as well.

These foundations accept any type of asset. The assets may come from other foundations or individuals, government agencies or corporations. They are then invested, usually with minimum risk. Donors may choose to give to existing funds that the community foundation has set up. Alternatively, they may establish a new fund based on their charitable interests. The foundation announces available grant money and sets a deadline for applying. Project developers or workers apply and a winner is chosen.


Typically, community foundation grants are given to organizations that improve a geographic area's arts, culture, education, youth activities, human and health services, or citizen safety. Community foundation grants are awarded based on who is asking for help and how they will use funds. When the foundation can show that their grant recipients are achieving results, they gain trust from their public.

The people running community foundations are usually leaders who have joined together to work toward a common goal. A community foundation aims to create a future for an area, uniting needs with resources. Sometimes, disaster relief grants are given by community foundations. Communities also need money to prepare for emergencies and efforts to prevent natural or man-made disasters.

Other types of community foundation grants include projects that fight against societal wrongdoing, such as animal abuse, environmental dangers or domestic violence. Improving education through scholarships is another way a community foundation grants money to their neighborhood. Additionally, money may be available via corporate contributions to fund literacy campaigns, books or school supplies. Library or school programs sometimes receive community funding grants.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helps run The website helps organizations find grants, but does not supply money. Eligibility and need are the two main factors in receiving opportunities and available funds.



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