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Overview for Grant Seekers

Welcome. The following information should help you determine whether your project fits our grantmaking priorities, and whether submitting a proposal make sense. Please read below before starting the application process.

About Our Grantmaking

As a community foundation, we serve New York City as well as Long Island and Westchester. Our competitive grants support programs that improve the lives of all New Yorkers, with an emphasis on promoting healthy lives, promising futures, and thriving communities. You think of an issue area, chances are we fund it—from helping young people in poor neighborhoods to promoting equity in the arts, from making our environment healthier to improving public schools. We understand that complex problems demand a variety of approaches. 

Our Grants

We depend on funds set up by donors. Some can be used at our discretion, while others were created for particular purposes. Our grantmaking guidelines reflect these purposes. They range from specific (helping injured classical ballet dancers)—to broad (improving opportunities for poor girls and young women). Our program staff reviews proposals, identifies the best projects for grants according to our guidelines, and determines the appropriate funding sources. Our suburban divisions, the Westchester Community Foundation and the Long Island Community Foundation have their own guidelines. (Note: The Trust also has many living donors who suggest grants from donor-advised funds, which do not accept proposals.)

Funder Collaboratives

We are home to several funder collaboratives that bring foundations and charitable individuals together to address issues such as immigration, education, and equity in the arts. For guidelines, please see descriptions of them and their RFPs

Grantmaking Goals

Thriving Communities

We make grants to groups that protect and create affordable housing, promote equity in the arts, improve civic engagement, and protect our environment. We support agencies working on these issues at the neighborhood level, as well as government and nonprofit institutions developing strategies. We also support efforts to improve the functioning of nonprofits and government. Guidelines | Program Strategies 

Promising Futures

Our grants build promising futures by helping young people prosper; providing job training and placement; making our educational and justice systems work for everyone; alleviating hunger and homelessness; improving family and child welfare services; and advancing the practice of social work. Guidelines | Program Strategies

Healthy Lives

As health care changes, we’re helping providers deliver efficient, cost-effective services to all New Yorkers. The Trust supports projects that improve quality of care, strengthen health care providers, address costs and health disparities, and develop the skills and independence of people with special needs. Guidelines | Program Strategies 

About our Grantmaking Program

What nonprofits are eligible for grants? 

Most of our competitive grants go to public charities, or groups sponsored by one. In some cases, we support organizations headquartered outside the City. Our environmental and social work education programs are national. Grantees or fiscal agents should meet the governance and financial standards of the Better Business Bureau, including a board of directors with at least five members, and no more than one paid board member. 

What types of programs do you fund? 

We fund programs that promote change in policy or systems, build capacity of organizations, and provide direct service.

What don’t you fund? 

We do not make grants to individuals, or for general operating support, capital and building campaigns, endowments, equipment, deficit financing, or religious purposes. 

When can we apply?

You may submit a proposal anytime* We build in a long lead time for review of proposals and preparation of grant recommendations, leading to five board meetings each year. Program officers weigh many considerations in preparing a group of grant recommendations and cannot promise that any proposal will be considered at a particular board meeting. The dates in the table below indicate when applicants can expect to hear from us about a decision on their grant application.

Grant applications received by:                  
Decision notification sent no later than:
February 9, 2018 October 12, 2018
May 2, 2018 December 12, 2018
October 12, 2018 April 10, 2019

We also issue RFPs for certain programs (such as our capacity-building program for arts groups, and many of our collaborative funds); each has its own rules and timeline. 

* For those applying to our national and international environment program, we accept letters of interest in September and February each year.

Can I discuss ideas with a program officer to make sure they are a good fit before submitting a proposal?

Because of the volume of proposals we handle, we are not able to meet with organizations to help them decide on a project before submitting a proposal. Instead, we ask that you read our guidelines to ensure your project aligns with our grantmaking goals, then submit a proposal. Some proposals meet several of our goals. You do not have to determine the program officer(s) who will receive your proposal; we do that.

How Do I Apply?

Applicants should go to our Grant Portal, read the Guidelines for Grant Seekers, and start the application process by completing the Proposal Cover Sheet. Once you have submitted the cover sheet, the full proposal needs to be postmarked within one business day and sent in hard copy to:

Sheila Dinkins
The New York Community Trust 
909 Third Avenue 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10022

Application Checklist

  1. A cover letter, on your letterhead, signed by your director.
  2. A copy of the Proposal Cover Sheet that you have submitted online.
  3. A proposal (no more than ten pages) that includes:
    • Agency background (mission, major activities, and credentials for carrying out project)
    • Project description: Brief statement of problem to be addressed
    • Goals and objectives
    • Who is served
    • Project activities
    • Expected outcome(s)
    • Plan for measuring project results
    • Project budget (expenses & income)
    • For renewal requests, an update on progress made through prior grant
  4. Information about your organization
    • Agency Operating Budget
    • A list of the Board of Directors
    • For organizations with budgets of $750,000+, submit your latest audited financial statements; organizations with budgets between $250,000 and $750,000, submit a CPA review report; all others, provide a copy of your IRS 990.
    • Affirmative action policy
  1. The Trust’s communications with you about this grant will be by email, whether notification of a decline, or notification of a grant. PLEASE ADD TO YOUR ADDRESS BOOK SO THAT OUR IMPORTANT COMMUNICATIONS DO NOT GET CAUGHT IN YOUR SPAM FILTERS.

Grant Seeker FAQs

Do you need to know someone to get a grant?

No. Trust staff meet weekly to review all the proposals that have come in since the last meeting. If a proposal clearly does not meet our guidelines, the organization is informed within two weeks. Otherwise, it is assigned to a program officer for review and the organization is so notified.

We first check to see if we have funds available in the particular category. The review assesses the quality of the proposed project, the capability of the organization, and its relevance to our grantmaking guidelines. We often check out the organization with other funders and nonprofits and sometimes request a meeting. We also visit a program we are seriously considering funding. Finally the staff makes a recommendation to our board.

Should I use a board contact?

No. All proposals received go through the same process.

Can we meet before I submit an application to tell you about our organization?

No. We need to have something in writing first. If we think a meeting is necessary, we'll call you to set one up.

Why can't I get general support?

Our donor advised grants are almost all for general operating support. In our competitive grants program, project grants allow us to select those that advance the goals our board has set for each grantmaking program.

Do you give grants to individuals?


Can I apply for more than one year?

Yes, although our general practice is to make grants for one year. You should be sure to make the case for multi-year funding in your proposal.

Can I apply for multiple projects in the same year?


Can I contact your donors? Will you tell them about our organization?

We do not make our donors' names and addresses available. Our Grants Newsletter, which is published five times a year after each board meeting, lists all the grants made at the meeting, and is distributed to a broad community of donors, grantees, elected officials, and others. We also encourage donors to call us for more information about grantees featured in this newsletter and on our Web site.

Can I apply for a grant from a specific fund?

Generally, no. We have several funds, however, that use a request for proposal (RFP) process for grantmaking. RFPs are generally sent to a closed list, i.e., only those who receive the RFP can apply, but open RFPs are posted here. Letters of Interest (LOIs) for our national and international environment program are submitted here. We accept LOIs for this program twice a year in February and September.

How much money should I ask for?

Our grants usually range from $5,000 to $200,000; an average grant is around $80,000. Often, a grant from The Trust cannot fully support a project, so we will want to know where the rest of the money will come from.

If our organization has been turned down can we apply again?

Yes. Each proposal is considered on its own merits.

When can we expect to hear if we've gotten a grant?

How should I send you our proposal?

You will need to submit a proposal cover sheet online, and then print out the sheet, along with your proposal, and send it by mail.

Please see instructions here>>

909 Third Avenue | New York, NY 10022 | P (212) 686-0010 | F (212) 532-8528 |
Contact Us | Staff | Westchester Community Foundation | Long Island Community Foundation

The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.