Community Grants

Communities need financial assistance for projects ranging from park development to senior citizen activities.  Grants are available for cities and towns who want to expand programs.  Organizations that partner to address a specific community issue are also eligible for community grants.  There are several types of grants that communities can use to meet strategic goals.

Community grants are awarded through state and federal programs.  A common grant is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).  These funds are allocated to cities for improvement projects.  Cities, in turn, allocate a portion of the funds for grants and loans to eligible groups.  Community government grants provide funds for programs and services that serve the residents of that particular community.

You can find out of your city offers these types of grants by contacting your local councilperson or mayor’s office.  If funds are available to local organizations, the city will post a Request for Proposals (RFP) notice in the legal notice section of the local newspaper.  These grants typically require a scope of work for submission.

Community foundations provide grants to community projects and services.  These projects can include local governments that provide specific programming that is not funded by other sources.  Community grants often require a larger support base than grants to organizations.  Because they serve more people, funders want to be sure the residents actually plan to use the program or service.  You may need to collect letters of support or commitment from prospective program participants to prove need and future use.

It is not uncommon for community grants to be designated specifically for pilot projects.  Community government grants from federal agencies may fund pilot projects for the purpose of developing scalable applications for wider impact.  This requires the community leader to fully document program implementation and evaluation activities.  The final report will include lessons learned and recommendations for scalability.

Community grants can be used to address a specific community need such as reducing tobacco use among young people or education reform.  Regardless of purpose, the intent is to serve a particular subgroup of a defined community.  Setting clear goals and objects will help with managing community grants.  Because they are larger in scope, they can be challenging to administer.

A successful community grant is likely to involve several organizations working together to address an identified need.  This type of collaboration can create lasting benefit for the community that extends beyond the term of the grant.  Rather than competing for funds, organizations pool resources for greater impact.