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Community Foundation Grantmaking

Community foundations are different from private foundations. They have a broad mandate to serve their communities, and can’t limit their focus to a few areas. They also must have a geographic focus. Community foundations are made up of many individual charitable funds, some that are for unrestricted purposes, and others that are for particular fields of interest, some broad, others narrow. Some funds are set up by will or through deferred giving arrangements, some by living donors who recommend grants.

The 1923 document that created The Trust lists a number of issues as illustrations of charitable concern, including:

  • Helping public education and charitable institutions
  • Promoting scientific research
  • Caring for the sick, aged, and helpless
  • Helping victims of drugs and alcohol and released prison inmates
  • Improving living and working conditions

It’s a pretty progressive agenda and covers a broad terrain. The current programs areas for our discretionary grants program (those not recommended by donor advisors) are natural outgrowths of that original mission, the purposes of our funds, and the judgments of our board and staff. When we make grants from the competitive grants program, we consider many of the same factors as our private foundation colleagues: does the project fit within our guidelines? Does it fill a documented need? Is it well designed?

But we also have to see if there is money available in a fund or funds that support the proposed project or sufficient unrestricted money in order to make the grant. Read more about how we determine our grants budget.

We periodically review all our grant programs to make sure they are still relevant and modify them if warranted. Below are several strategy papers that have resulted from these reviews.

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