The Black Equity & Excellence Fund supports community-based projects for the Black community of Central New York that promote and encourage self-sufficiency and improve the physical and economic conditions that affect quality of life. It also encourages dialogue that will strengthen race-related matters and support social and educational growth in the community.

To be eligible, prospective applicants must meet all of these requirements:

  • Have Black leadership in the senior executive position
  • Have at least 51% Black membership on their Board or steering committee
  • Seek to explicitly serve the Black community by targeting any of the focus areas listed below
  • 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, publicly supported organizations such as schools and municipalities, or organizations using a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor. The use of a fiscal sponsor from a non-Black organization is permitted.
  • Organizations serving residents of Onondaga or Madison counties

Projects must benefit the Black community or build upon the capabilities of your organization. Projects that focus on one of the following interest areas would qualify for a Black Equity & Excellence grant:

  • Black Creatives
  • Black Leadership + Advancement
  • Black LGBTQIA+
  • Black Mental Wellness
  • Black Legacy + Generational Wealth
  • Black Business
  • Black Maternal Health
  • Black Civic Engagement
  • Black Youth + Students
  • Black Tech

Project funding levels are as follows:

  • Grassroots Organizations/Businesses with a Fiscal Sponsor: $10k and under
  • Pilot programs or small projects: $11k-$25k
  • Expansion of existing projects: $26k-$55k
  • Large capital projects or renovations: $56k-$75k

We do not make grants for the following:

  • 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

The Black Equity & Excellence application period opens periodically over the course of the year.

  • 2021 Deadline: July 9, 2021
  • All grant applications must be submitted online. Questions about your application may be directed to Dashiell Elliott.
  • Applicants will be asked to complete an online form and submit some background information about the project. Acceptable formats are written narrative, video, PowerPoint or audio submission. Creativity is welcomed.
  • The use of a fiscal sponsor from a non-Black organization is allowed.
Apply Here

If your nonprofit has received a Black Equity & Excellence grant, we request that you submit a final report. These reports assist us in assessing our grantmaking efforts.

Submit A Report

Who can apply?

Eligible applicants must have Black leadership in the senior executive position and at least 51% Black membership on their Board or steering committee. The organizations must seek to explicitly serve residents of the Black community of Onondaga or Madison counties.

Why do you restrict funding to organizations with a minimum amount of Black leadership?

Implicit and explicit bias against Black-led organizations has fed a false narrative about their effectiveness and worthiness for investment. Those most affected by an issue must be at the forefront of resolving that issue. Building a sustainable Black-led infrastructure will best ensure action on the changes necessary to create thriving Black communities and to dismantle anti-Black structural racism. Those ineligible to apply to Black Equity & Excellence are encouraged to contact us for information on our other funding opportunities.

What can I request funding for?

You may request funding for projects that will benefit the Black community or build upon the capabilities of your organization. Requests for program-related needs, operational support or capital improvements are eligible.

What can I not request funding for?

We do not provide funding for annual operating budgets, except when it is “seed” or “bridge” funding, endowments, religious purposes, loans or assistance to individuals for personal reasons, medical or academic research or activities that occur before our decision date.

How much funding can I request?

Appropriate request amounts vary based upon the project you are seeking funding for. Below are guidelines to consider when submitting an application:

  • Grassroots Organizations/Businesses with Fiscal Sponsors: $10k and under
  • Pilot programs or small projects: $11k-$25k
  • Expansion of existing projects: $26k-$55k
  • Large capital projects or renovations: $56k-$75k


Who makes the funding decisions?

The Black Equity & Excellence Advisory Council, comprised of black individuals within the Central New York community, is charged with reviewing grant proposals and making funding recommendations as well as identifying gaps and opportunities to create a more equitable and economically inclusive Central New York for the Black community. Members represent a cross-section of industries and backgrounds for varying viewpoints.

When will I be notified?

All applicants will be notified via email following each Black Equity & Excellence Council meeting. This meeting occurs approximately one month after each grant application deadline.

My request was declined. Now what?

An unsuccessful application does not necessarily reflect the worthiness of a particular project. We receive more requests than we can fund. Any agency whose request has been declined is encouraged to contact us to discuss specific reasons for the rejection.

Who can I contact?

For more information please contact Program Officer, Dashiell Elliott at 315 422 9538 or grants@cnycf.org.

The Community Foundation can only pay grants to registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations (including churches) or to a public entity such as a town, public school or state agency. All others will need to use a fiscal sponsor.

Learn More

Black Equity & Excellence Stories

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | UrbanTSyr

The Black Equity & Excellence Fund allowed for optimization of UrbanTsyr online content with professionally ...

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company

Through the generous support of the Community Foundation’s Black Equity & Excellence Fund we produced, ...

Stories August 25, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Dunbar Association

Knowing that initiatives such as the BE&E Fund believes in your vision helps wounds become ...

Stories August 13, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Tamika Otis

I want Central New York to look like a place that exemplifies an overwhelming love ...

Stories August 11, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Barry Wells

"Philanthropy can address many of the issues and problems hindering our march toward forming a ...

Stories August 9, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Me'Shae Brooks-Rolling

"Philanthropy is not just about giving out handouts (although that most certainly has its place); ...

Graphic image of faces for Black Equity & Excellence Fund
News Releases July 27, 2021

Policy Paper Released: The Social & Economic Impacts of Supporting Black-Led Organizations

A policy paper outlines our rationale for investing intentionally and publicly in the support and ...

Stories June 28, 2021

THE MOST Empowers Black Youth to Explore STEM Careers Through New After-School Mentorship Program

We provided The MOST with $17,250 to launch Future Innovators, an after-school program that brings ...

Collage of Community Leaders
Topics April 26, 2021

Community Voices: Looking Forward After the Derek Chauvin Verdict

This is not a time to celebrate, but to collaborate. We asked local leaders where ...

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | UrbanTSyr

The Black Equity & Excellence Fund allowed for optimization of UrbanTsyr online content with professionally ...

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company

Through the generous support of the Community Foundation’s Black Equity & Excellence Fund we produced, ...

Stories August 25, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Dunbar Association

Knowing that initiatives such as the BE&E Fund believes in your vision helps wounds become ...

Stories August 13, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Tamika Otis

I want Central New York to look like a place that exemplifies an overwhelming love ...

Stories August 11, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Barry Wells

"Philanthropy can address many of the issues and problems hindering our march toward forming a ...

Stories August 9, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Me'Shae Brooks-Rolling

"Philanthropy is not just about giving out handouts (although that most certainly has its place); ...

Graphic image of faces for Black Equity & Excellence Fund
News Releases July 27, 2021

Policy Paper Released: The Social & Economic Impacts of Supporting Black-Led Organizations

A policy paper outlines our rationale for investing intentionally and publicly in the support and ...

Stories June 28, 2021

THE MOST Empowers Black Youth to Explore STEM Careers Through New After-School Mentorship Program

We provided The MOST with $17,250 to launch Future Innovators, an after-school program that brings ...

Collage of Community Leaders
Topics April 26, 2021

Community Voices: Looking Forward After the Derek Chauvin Verdict

This is not a time to celebrate, but to collaborate. We asked local leaders where ...

View More