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Our Community Grant Program

The Community Foundation seeks to advance three goals through its grantmaking programs — community impact, community building and diversity. There are a wide variety of funding opportunities available through the Community Foundation, the largest of which is our community grant program. Tax-exempt, nonprofit  organizations in Onondaga and Madison counties are encouraged to apply for grants to fund innovative projects in the areas of: arts and culture, civic affairs, education, health, human services and the environment. We invite you to find out more about our largest grant program.

The Community Grant program has guidelines designed to furnish you with the information necessary to apply for a Community grant. These guidelines offer general direction, but  are not a guaranteed prescription for success in obtaining a grant. Ultimately, each proposal is evaluated on its potential value to Onondaga or Madison County, levels of available funding for disbursement, and the quality of planning, leadership, support and vision expressed in the application.



 Community Grant Guidelines
The Central New York Community Foundation no longer requires Cultural Data Project (CDP) Reports for arts, cultural and heritage agency grant applications in its Community Grant Program. If you have any questions, please contact grants@cnycf.org

Online Application

We request that all future Community Grant applications be submitted utilizing our online system. Click here to access the system and view tutorial resources.

If you have trouble accessing or utilizing our online grants system, please contact us at (315) 422-9538 or grants@cnycf.org.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact our program staff at (315) 422-9538 or email grants@cnycf.org to discuss proposal ideas before submitting an application. 


The Community Foundation supports a wide variety of projects, but does restrict itself to:
  • making grants to tax-exempt, not-for-profit organizations certified by the Internal Revenue Service as public charities under Section 501(c)(3); publicly supported organizations such as schools and municipalities; and
  • making grants from the Community Fund and other board-directed funds to qualified organizations in Onondaga and Madison counties.

The Community Foundation will not make more than one grant within a 12-month period to the same organization, nor does it expect to make recurring grants to the same project.


Types of Projects

The Community Foundation has three community goals it seeks to advance through its grantmaking:
  • Community Impact: The Community Foundation’s mission is to foster a thriving Central New York community. We support innovative programs in the areas of human services, arts and culture, education, health, environment and civic affairs. Successful projects will address community needs through programs and activities that demonstrate sustainable impacts and measurable outcomes.
  • Community Building: Community building is central to the work of the Central New York Community Foundation. Therefore we will give preference to projects that increase civic participation and community vitality. Successful projects will build community connections, especially among diverse groups, and build mutual trust and reciprocity in community relationships.
  • Diversity: The Community Foundation believes that a community’s strength lies in its diversity. We commit our resources in ways that signal to groups with diverse cultures, philosophies and experiences that they are welcome partners in our efforts. We seek grantees and partners that incorporate diversity into their missions and operations, striving to encourage diverse governance boards, work force, partner organizations and served constituencies. To that end, diversity will be an important consideration in the evaluation of requests for Community Foundation funding.


Projects Not Supported

The Community Foundation, as a rule, does not make grants for the following through its Community Grants process:
  • Annual operating budgets, except when it is "seed" or "bridge" funding
  • Endowments
  • Religious purposes
  • Loans or assistance to individuals
  • Medical or academic research (except where requested by a donor)
  • Activities that occurred before the Community Foundation’s decision date


How to Submit Your Application

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their grant request with Community Foundation staff before beginning the application process. Please telephone the our office at (315) 422-9538 for assistance or email us at grants@cnycf.org to arrange an appointment.

During the review process, our staff may contact you for additional information or to arrange a meeting with representatives of your organization.

Organizations applying for funding are required to use the online application form.  



Applicants will be notified of grant award or denial by telephone call or letter after the Community Foundation's quarterly Board of Directors meeting. We request that inquiries regarding the status of a grant application be made after the decision date indicated in our materials.

An unsuccessful application does not necessarily reflect the worthiness of a particular project. The Community Foundation receives more requests than it can fund. Any agency whose request has been declined is encouraged to contact our program staff to discuss specific reasons for the rejection.



The Community Foundation is interested in the impact of its grantmaking to area nonprofits organizations and the community.

All grant recipients are required to provide the Community Foundation with evaluation report(s). Both progress and final reports may be necessary, depending upon the length and scope of the awarded project. Reports should detail how dollars were expended and what the project achieved. Learn More

Award recipients may also be asked to participate in a survey to evaluate the Foundation's grantmaking process or attend a sharing session with other grantees.

If you have grantmaking questions or would like to schedule a grant information meeting, please contact us at
315-422-9538 or