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Guidelines for Grant Seekers

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. Read more about our strategies in these areas.

Arts and Culture

Program goals:

  • Promote diversity in the arts, and expand access for artists and audiences
  • Strengthen the management of arts groups serving communities in the five boroughs
  • Develop talented young minority and disadvantaged artists and improve arts education in the public schools
  • Strengthen arts advocacy
We make grants to all artistic disciplines through projects that:

  • Help arts organizations attract broader audiences and provide opportunities for artists from diverse backgrounds.
  • Build the capacity of small and mid-sized arts groups.
    • Priority will be given to non-Manhattan and culturally explicit groups, and to groups with annual budgets of $250,000 to $2 million 
    • Arts service and umbrella organizations are eligible for grants to help small groups
    • Read the RFP for this grants program
  • Help cultural groups integrate arts into the curriculum of needy public schools, especially those working outside of Manhattan, and begin programs in schools that lack arts.
  • Advance arts advocacy on critical policy and funding issues.
  • Support the professional development of minority and historically underrepresented young artists pre- and post-college. Grants are to arts organizations that identify, train, and support young people. 
We do not generally give grants:

  • To organizations with an annual operating budget below $250,000
  • For particular presentations, such as plays, exhibits, films/videos, and festivals
  • For more than one project at a time from an organization

Additional resources:

Civic Affairs

Program goal: To ensure a representative political process and improve the functioning of government. Grants are made to:

Encourage voting through projects that:

  • Support reform of election administration and voting infrastructure
  • Remove obstacles to voting, especially for groups that have historically not voted
  • Disseminate nonpartisan information about candidates and elected officials
Make local and state government more accountable through projects that:

  • Support efforts to make Albany work better for the citizens of the City and the State
  • Strengthen nonprofit civic groups
  • Provide citizens and advocates with information and skills needed to promote effective governance
Promote civic literacy in children and civic learning for our newest citizens through projects that:

  • Encourage good citizenship among immigrants and their children
  • Enrich civic learning opportunities for children and youth
  • Target neighborhoods and constituencies with low levels of civic participation

Community Development

PROGRAM GOALS: to build and sustain strong communities and create economic opportunities for residents of low-income neighborhoods.

We support a mix of citywide and local community development activities as well as citywide technical assistance, policy research, and advocacy. We will give priority to projects that promote community participation.

Grants are made to projects that:

  • Preserve affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods
  • Promote strategies for job creation and linking low-income residents to jobs
  • Develop new sources of capital and innovative community development tools
  • Enhance the capacity of community development organizations to function effectively
  • Monitor and document the effects of community and economic development policies on poor communities
Read the full Community Development Grants Strategy>>

New York City Environment

New York City Environmental Grantmaking Program

Our New York City environment grantmaking focuses on three priority objectives:

Becoming a Climate-Smart Metropolis by:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of buildings and various industries.
  • Increasing the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy resources.
  • Supporting distributed (on-site) generation, establishing microgrids, and modernizing the grid.
  • Encouraging climate resilience and adaptation to climate change particularly in vulnerable low-income communities.
Creating Healthier, More Livable Communities by:

  • Preventing air pollution
  • Reducing the risk of exposure to toxic substances especially for disadvantaged residents
  • Reclaiming and redeveloping brownfields
  • Creating, improving, and enhancing open space and improving access to the City’s waterfronts
  • Ensuring that environmental benefits and burdens are shared equitably
Protecting Urban Ecologies by:

  • Safeguarding the City’s critical watersheds
  • Preventing pollution of the waterways
  • Preserving and enhancing wetlands, urban tree cover, and wildlife habitat
As part of our grantmaking, we will support cross-cutting initiatives that accomplish a combination of objectives. Some examples include:

  • Ensuring meaningful participation by disadvantaged groups or communities in environmental and land use decision-making
  • Building leadership among new constituencies around sustainability and environmental issues
  • Green buildings or green infrastructure practices, technologies, and policies
  • Sustainable transportation measures
  • Promoting access to healthy food grown in the metro region
Please note: 

The New York Community Trust does not fund environmental education projects.

National and International Environment

NOTE TO GRANT SEEKERS: The Trust is no longer accepting unsolicited proposals for the National and International Environment Program.

Instead, we have adopted a two-step process that begins with a Letter of Interest (LOI) and may lead to a request to submit a full proposal. An LOI containing a three-page description of the project and a preliminary budget can be submitted through a dedicated LOI portal that opens for three-week windows in the fall and late winter of every year. In 2018, submission windows will open on February 26th and September 17th. 

Visit our grant portal for more information on our submission procedures.

National and International Environment Program

The Trust is fortunate to have the Henry Phillip Kraft Family Memorial Fund, whose purpose is to support environmental projects of national and international significance and supplements our local environmental grantmaking.

The overarching goal of our Kraft Fund grantmaking is to promote more environmentally sustainable, resilient, and just communities. To that end, we support projects in four areas.

Mitigate climate change by:
  • Promoting energy efficiency and alternative sources of energy for buildings.
  • Shifting to electric or low-emission vehicles and greater use of mass transit.
  • Promoting a smarter, more resilient grid and distributed (on site) generation.
  • Reducing emissions from existing fossil fuel-powered facilities and extraction activities
  • Establishing regional programs, performance standards, and regulations that help reduce emissions.
Make communities, especially the most disadvantaged, more resilient to a changing climate by:
  • Creating infrastructure that reduces storm water run-off and absorbs storm surges
  • Protecting shoreline communities by conserving or enhancing natural barriers
  • Encouraging more sustainable building design and land use through policy reforms
  • Better planning and preparation for weather-related emergencies, especially for low-income and other vulnerable residents
Protect public health from the hazards of toxic pollutants by:
  • Supporting targeted scientific research that can be used to develop policy.
  • Promoting safer chemical and heavy metal policies and practices, especially for infants, children and other vulnerable people.
  • Eliminating toxic chemicals from products through market campaigns focused on retailers and manufacturers.
  • Enhancing protections for low-income communities near polluting facilities.
  • Minimizing the hazards of new and expanded fossil fuel extraction on nearby communities.
Preserve biological diversity through habitat conservation by:
  • Establishing, enhancing, and monitoring wildlife migration corridors.
  • Supporting functional connectivity between fragmented habitat that enables species to move and live safely.
We encourage initiatives that cut across these program areas, especially those focused on smart growth, sustainable agriculture and regional food systems, and sustainable production.    

We only make 2 or 3 international grants per year. These grants go to U.S.-based organizations that are building the capacity of government, academic institutions, private sector entities, and nonprofits to protect biodiversity, improve environmental health, and reduce greenhouse gases around the world. 

With the exception of those focused on New York State, all projects must benefit more than one U.S. state or territory to be considered.  

Historic Preservation

PROGRAM GOALS: To support preservation in low-income and minority communities and the boroughs outside of Manhattan and to restore historic places that represent significant and overlooked aspects of New York City's history.

We support programs that:

  • Foster collaborations between preservation organizations and minority, ethnic, and other community groups
  • Incorporate preservation efforts into neighborhood revitalization initiatives and increase the preservation expertise of community organizations
  • Promote the adaptive use of historic buildings for social, cultural, and civic purposes
  • Help groups develop alternative sources of financial support for capital, maintenance, and repairs
Examples include:

  • Obtaining historic site designation to become eligible for government funds and tax advantages
  • Producing condition surveys required for capital grants
  • Planning and implementing capital campaigns and strategies to expand private giving and generate earned income
  • Supporting collaborative projects with for-profit ventures
  • Advocating for increased government support for historic preservation
To ensure maximum impact from our limited funds, we will not make grants directly for maintenance or capital projects. However, The Trust has established a modest fund with the New York Landmarks Conservancy for emergency structural repairs (maximum grant $25,000) for nonprofits that own and operate historic buildings in New York City.

Technical Assistance

PROGRAM GOALS: To improve the management capacity of nonprofits and strengthen the nonprofit sector.

Grants are made to:

  • Advance public and nonprofit service by developing skills and expertise of professionals in the field
  • Support service and umbrella organizations providing technical assistance to groups of nonprofits

Promising Futures

Our grants build promising futures by helping young people thrive; 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. Read more about our strategies in these areas.


PROGRAM GOALS: to ensure New York City’s public schools prepare students for success in college and the workforce, and for participating in public life as creative and responsible citizens. Read our Education Grantmaking Strategy.

The Trust supports projects that:

  • Build and mobilize public will for greater equity and quality in the school system through policy research, education advocacy, and grassroots organizing
  • Increase accountability and transparency of schools and the school system to parents and students in low-income communities of color and immigrant communities
  • Expand innovative strategies for improving middle and high schools in the areas of principal instructional leadership, positive school cultures, and student leadership and academic supports

Please note: Because our focus is on systemwide improvement, The Trust DOES NOT fund individual public or private schools, charter schools, or programs that involve limited numbers of students. 

Human Services

The goal of our human services program is to mitigate the effects of poverty, increase opportunity through effective services and public benefits, and reduce racial disparities. This strategy addresses a full range of human services. We will:

1. Focus on early intervention and prevention to enable vulnerable children to grow up in stable families and succeed in school and life by:
  • supporting a continuum of early childhood programs from birth to kindergarten;
  • strengthening services for families with children at-risk of foster care placement and for youth already in care;
  • reducing entry and re-entry into the homeless shelter system and increasing long-term housing stability; and
  • increasing access to income supports and healthy, affordable food.
2. Expand proven and promising practices that help those in need lead productive lives by:
  • supporting research, policy, and programs that direct resources to alleviate hunger, homelessness, and poverty; and to move individuals to stability and independence; 
  • advocating for wide-ranging, quality services that help poor individuals and families succeed.
3. Build the capacity of government agencies and nonprofits serving low-income New Yorkers by:
  • supporting the coordination and integration of services across City agencies and service providers;
  • training and supporting public and nonprofit human services workers; and
  • advancing efforts that improve the funding, contracting, and support of human services agencies.

Preference will be given to projects that go beyond one agency or program to offer sector-wide, systemic, and multi-agency solutions. 

Whenever possible, human services grants will be made in partnership with other Trust program areas including health, jobs, and workforce development and jobs, community development, education, youth development, and technical assistance.

Human Justice

PROGRAM GOALS: Promote a more effective and fair civil and criminal justice system through:

  • Research and monitoring of practices and procedures in City courts.
  • Advocacy to improve local court practices and procedures.
Provide advocacy, information, and representation in emerging and/or urgent areas of civil law where other funding sources are limited. (The Trust will not make grants to provide legal representation in criminal matters.)

  • We will help advocates and legal service nonprofits act quickly when laws and policies change.
  • Advocacy and individual, multi-plaintiff, or class-action litigation can protect New Yorkers’ civil rights and make law and public policy more responsive to the needs of the City’s most vulnerable residents.
Identify effective ways to help low-income New Yorkers resolve legal problems and thereby improve their quality of life.

  • We will test the effectiveness of different service delivery methods such as brief advice, technology, nonlawyers, and alternative courts.
  • Through program evaluation and collaboration with other social service providers, we will connect legal help with other desired outcomes such as reducing homelessness and increasing employment and educational opportunities.
  • Where needed, we will build legal-service nonprofits’ capacity, individually and as a field, to track and communicate their results.

Additional resources:

Jobs and Workforce Development

PROGRAM GOALS: to provide more opportunities for New York City job seekers to get trained for work and careers, while helping employers find a ready, willing, and able workforce. We support projects in four areas:

Develop employer-driven workforce partnerships that link nonprofits, institutions, and businesses in a particular economic sector (such as health care, technology, hospitality) or for a particular constituency or community. 

  • These efforts must demonstrate an opportunity for low-skilled workers to move up, and provide training, placement, and post-placement services
  • We will test new approaches for helping those with serious barriers to employment (such as very low numeracy and literacy skills, no high school degree, ex-offenders, or mental or physical disabilities) through partnerships driven by employers
Expand the number of industry alliances or workforce intermediaries. 

  • These alliances work on several levels: they provide education and training; improve industry hiring practices, working conditions and advancement opportunities
  • They also work to change public policies to benefit workers
Promote a stronger, more effective workforce development system of services for job seekers in New York City through:

  • Continued partnership with government on initiatives and policy development
  • Support for training programs and associations that serve workforce providers

Advocate for better jobs in particular sectors or through public policies by:

  • Working with employers in specific industries to increase the performance and pay of workers
  • Advancing public policy to ensure fair wages, working conditions, and business practices
Additional resources:

Youth Development

PROGRAM GOAL: To help young, low-income New Yorkers up to the age of 24, to overcome obstacles and succeed in life and careers.

We fund projects that:

1. Expand leadership opportunities for disadvantaged young people. We put a priority on organizations that:

  • Have a record of creating programs in communities, or operate in a minimum of three public school campuses;
  • provide hooks to keep diverse groups of young people engaged;
  • work with young people over time, at least three years; and
  • create a role for young people to influence public policy, promote racial equity, or achieve meaningful community improvements.
2. Expand or improve employer-driven youth workforce programs that:
  • create career pathways in higher wage sectors (e.g. healthcare, technology, hospitality);
  • expand internships for young people who are attending school, and those who are unemployed;
  • help low-skilled youth get an education, and get job skills by providing training, placement, and post-placement services; and
  • improve the City’s career and technical education system.
3. Expand the capacity of youth development organizations by:
  • supporting intermediaries that provide training, streamline services, improve industry hiring practices, or change public policies; or
  • Train staff working with youth to use best practices in leadership development, employment, and nonprofit management.
4. Promote policy reforms on issues that affect young people, such as:
  • reforming New York’s juvenile and criminal justice systems to produce better outcomes for young people; or
  • creating better programs that engage and encourage employers to hire less-skilled youth of color.
Note: We do not make grants to stand-alone college access and preparation programs.

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. Read more about our strategies in these areas.

Health and Behavioral Health

PROGRAM GOAL: to promote an equitable, patient-focused, and cost-effective health and behavioral health care delivery system in four ways.

1. Monitor—through research and advocacy—health care reform implementation to ensure:

  • maintenance of a strong and viable health and behavioral health care safety net system
  • access to comprehensive and coordinated care for those who remain un- or under-insured
  • availability of screening, early intervention, and referral for effective treatment of disease
2. Build the capacity of New York City’s health, behavioral health, and human service sectors to succeed in a reformed health care system by:

  • developing effective skills training for the professional and paraprofessional health care workforce
  • strengthening financial and information technology systems to allow transition to value-based payments
3. Reduce health disparities between low- and higher-income neighborhoods through investments in disadvantaged communities that:

  • improve indoor and outdoor air quality
  • provide safe and inviting parks and open space
  • promote access to affordable and healthy food
  • engage residents in efforts to encourage physical activity and healthy diets
4. Foster the independence of people with mental illness and substance use histories by:

  • expanding innovative programs that offer clinical care as well as practical services, such as housing, employment, and education
  • advocating for expansion of participant-led or informed service models that are sustainable and effective

People With Special Needs

The Trust has a coordinated strategy that reflects the common challenges and opportunities for four groups of people with special needs: 

  • the elderly
  • children and youth with disabilities
  • people with blindness and visual disabilities
  • people with developmental disabilities
We support projects that target low-income individuals and communities and make grants:

1. To make New York City communities—especially those that are under-resourced—accessible, welcoming, and inclusive for people with special needs by:

  • supporting research and pilot efforts that demonstrate these principles
  • ensuring that laws that fund services and expand opportunities are implemented fully and effectively
2. To ensure that health, social, education, and vocational services allow people with special needs to live up to their fullest potential by:

  • supporting and replicating proven strategies that help these populations receive appropriate education, high quality vocational preparation, and equal employment opportunities
  • testing new approaches that use technology and other innovations to help people with special needs remain as independent as possible
  • supporting families and caregivers of people with special needs
3. To build the capacity of nonprofits serving people with special needs by:

  • ensuring  the workforce serving these populations is provided effective training, better career pathways, and increased job quality
  • helping agencies create appropriate financial and management systems, and partnerships to benefit from new financing mechanisms through Medicaid and Medicare

Biomedical Research

The Trust provides limited funding for biomedical research projects for cancer, leprosy, and other diseases by primarily supporting early-career researchers. We solicit projects based on available funding.

Animal Welfare

The Trust has limited funding for animal welfare, focusing on projects that provide medical and humane care to animals. We mostly solicit projects based on available funding.

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