We offer a wide variety of funding opportunities, the largest of which is our Community Grants program. 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.

  • 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, publicly supported organizations such as schools and municipalities, and organizations using a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor
  • Organizations serving residents of Onondaga and/or Madison counties
  • Organizations that have not received a community grant from the Community Foundation in the past 12 months
  • Organizations that have submitted a grant report for any completed program previously funded by the Foundation

We support the following types of projects that promote community impact, capacity building and diversity:

  • Capital Projects – including large scale capital campaigns, repairs and replacements, technology upgrades, and equipment/furnishing purchases
  • Program – support for new and innovative programs, or the expansion of proven existing programs that address our community’s most pressing needs
  • Organizational Development – including capacity building efforts around strategic planning, board development and succession planning
View Additional Guidelines

Capital and programmatic grants $10,000-$150,000 are available through the Dr. Robert J. Vitkus Fund to organizations in Onondaga, Madison, Cortland, Cayuga and Oswego counties that support outdoor parks and recreation areas. Preferences are for parks and recreation areas that provide access for hunting and fishing, naming opportunities, programs that involve youth, and conservation efforts to improve wildlife habitat and forest health. For more information, contact us.

We do not make grants for the following through our 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
  • Community Grant application deadlines typically fall at the beginning of March and October each year.
    • 2024 Deadlines:
      • March 8, 2024 (Spring)
      • September 6, 2024 (Fall)
  • Attention grantseekers: This summer, the Community Foundation will be undergoing a software conversion, which will introduce a new grant application portal prior to our September 6, 2024 Community Grants deadline. Please be prepared to receive instructions this summer on how to set up a new account and use the upgraded system going forward.
  • Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their grant request with our staff before beginning the application process. Please call our office at (315) 422-9538 or complete this form to set up an appointment.
  • View our additional guidelines for assistance in filling out your application.
  • All Community Grant applications and attachments must be submitted through our online system. Click here to register and log-in to the grant application online portal.
Apply Now

If your organization receives a community grant, we request that you submit midterm and final reports. These reports assist us in assessing our grantmaking efforts.

Progress Report Form

Final Report Form

Additional Guidelines

The Organization

  • Establishes why it is the appropriate organization to implement the proposed project
  • Clearly demonstrates an ability to accomplish the proposed activities
  • Fosters collaborative approaches and diverse civic participation in conducting its work
  • Promotes mutual trust and reciprocity amongst the various stakeholders in its work
  • Is in good fiscal condition

The Project

  • Demonstrates a vital community need and shared support for the proposed approach to the problem
  • Will have a significant, sustainable impact on the community need
  • Has a clearly outlined project plan and accompanying activities
  • Identifies achievable, measurable outcomes and includes a deliberate plan for evaluating them
  • Secures other sources of financial and in-kind support
  • Is viable in the long term and shows a plan for acquiring future funds

We may award an additional 10% for administrative and/or overhead costs associated with program related requests. This includes support services such as information technology, financial management, project evaluation and human resources.

We typically award grants for project budgets covering a one-year timeframe. In appropriate circumstances, we also consider applications with budgets beyond twelve months.

The above options are not appropriate for all proposals or applicants. If you are considering administrative overhead, evaluation or multi-year funding, please discuss your plans with our staff during your initial meeting with us.

Capital projects are defined as proposals that seek funding to purchase or construct a new facility, renovate or add to a current facility, or purchase equipment with an expected useful life of at least three years.

For capital campaigns that seek to raise $1 million or more, the Community Foundation will award no more than 10% of the total campaign goal and grants will not exceed $150,000. Funding for smaller projects is assessed on a case by case basis.

Additionally, please note that in general:

  • Grant applications will not be considered for capital campaigns with a goal of $1 million or more until at least 50% of the total campaign goal has been raised by the applicant.
  • We do not award grants for permanent renovations to buildings or properties that are not owned by the applicant. That being said, the Community Foundation encourages innovation and cross-sector collaboration. Please speak with a member of the Community Investment team if your organization is engaged in an innovative and sustainable partnership with the owner of the property in question.
  • We strongly encourage and prefer capital projects that are environmentally sustainable.
  • We fund community re-development capital grants under the following circumstances:
    1. The applicant is a nonprofit.
    2. This work makes sense for the applicant since it is related to its organizational mission.
    3. The nonprofit applicant owns the building.
    4. It has a clear benefit for the broader community.

Please make sure you have discussed your request with Community Foundation staff.

Applications and attachments can be submitted through the online application portal.

  • Required Attachments (these materials must be uploaded through the online application portal)
    • Three vendor quotes (for capital expenditure requests over $500 only)
    • List of your Board of Directors and schedule of board meetings
    • Most recent fiscal year-end financial statements, audited if available
    • One of the following:
      • Audit for most recently completed fiscal year if required to file one OR
      • Balance Sheet (Statement of Financial Position) AND Statement of Support and Expenses (Statement of Activities or Profit & Loss) for most recently completed fiscal year
    • Current year operating budget (Projected Support and Expenses)
    • Fiscal year-to-date Balance Sheet (Statement of Financial Position) AND Statement of Support and Expenses (Statement of Activities)
    • Letters of support when appropriate
  • Optional Attachments
    • Video or PowerPoint presentation that speaks to the work of the organization and/or the program in the request
    • Photos
    • Renderings for capital projects

Applicants will be officially notified of approval or declination following the Community Foundation’s board meeting. An unsuccessful application does not reflect a judgment about the worthiness of a particular project. We routinely receive more requests than we can fund. If your request is declined, we encourage you to contact our staff to discuss specific reasons.

We 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

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