Community Grants

Numerous entities provide Community Grants.  These grants, available at the federal, state, county and local levels, assist communities in various ways, and all provide sources of funding that allow communities to grow and develop.

At the federal level, and offered through Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Community Development Block Program (CDBG), is one of the longest running programs of HUD. The program provides affordable housing, meets the needs of the most vulnerable members of a community, and creates jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses.  CDBG began in 1974, and grants are awarded on a formula basis to 1209 general units of state and local governments. Program areas include:  Entitlement Communities, State Administered CDBG, HUD Administered Small Cities, Disaster Recovery Assistance, Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Renewal Communities/Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities, and Brown fields Economic Development Initiative. Each of these areas has certain requirements and stipulations, and must be thoroughly understood prior to a grant submission.  Equally important to the CDBG Programs, is citizen participation.  This is considered a critical component in the grant award process.   Those participating must be persons of low or moderate income, and reside in areas predominantly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, slum or blighted areas, and areas in which the grantee proposes to use CDBG funds.  Criteria are stringent, and carefully monitored.

Other community grants are available through foundations.  Generally, the organization seeking such funds must be a designated 501(c)3 in good standing with the IRS, and has kept current with the mandatory filings as prescribed by state law.  Here, too, just as with government community grants, established criteria are outlined by the grantor that must be adhered to in order to receive funds.  Community grants from these entities are quite comprehensive and include youth, arts, education, environmental, technology-based, health and wellness, address societal issues such as missing and exploited children – the list is exhaustive.  If an organization has an idea for program development or has a program in place, call the foundation to determine eligibility and criteria.  And, of course, research!  Run a search to determine what foundations fund community grants in a given locality.

Dutifully complete the grant application including all pertinent information required by the grantor.  Write a compelling argument for why the funds are needed. Define and outline measurable outcomes along with timelines. Provide organizational and program budgets. Have strong writing and editing skills. Be
clear and concise, not given to hyperbole or verbosity – no grantor has the time or the inclination to read page after page of redundant material.  More often than not, the organization will only have one short on a yearly basis – thus the need for clarity, precision, and conciseness.

Finally, don’t forget businesses and corporations.  Most have giving programs.  Many communication and power providers give back to their communities – explore these options as well.

Not only know and understand community grants at the federal and state levels, understand them at the local level. If the organization has a noteworthy program, funds are often readily available.

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