Community Foundation Competitive Grants

Maximizing Impact in the Community

The Community Foundation is committed to making grants that maximize impact on the community. As one of the largest grantmakers in Western New York, we are aware of the importance that many organizations place on grant income and attempt to support every worthy non-profit that applies.

Through our annual process, we receive up to 120 Letters of Intent. From this pool, an average of 25 are ultimately selected for funding. A list of recent past grant awards is available below.

Please review the solutions listed under the Foundation’s Community Goals, available below. It is important that your program(s) address(es) one or more of these solutions in order to be considered for funding.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted electronically online utilizing the Foundant grants management system. No paper or emailed applications will be accepted. Click here to download application guidelines.


Grant Opportunity

Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo awards annual grants to nonprofit organizations with programs that address one or more of the following four Community Goals and the Solutions detailed below:

  1. Improve educational achievement for students living in low-income households. Requests must address one of the following Solutions:
    1. Improve the academic achievement and postsecondary completion of students living in low-income households, with a preference for systems change.
    2. Improve the school readiness of children living in low-income households.
  2. Increase racial/ethnic equity. Requests must address the following Solution:
    1. Increase opportunities for residents to interact across racial/ethnic lines resulting in improved understanding.
  3. Protect and restore significant environmental resources and promote equitable access. Requests must address one of the following Solutions:
    1. Protect and restore the region’s waterways and promote equitable access.
    2. Strengthen individual environmental organizations, and support a more racially inclusive and collaborative environmental community.
  4. Strengthen the region as a center for architecture, arts and culture. Requests must address one of the following Solutions:
    1. Increase access to long-term arts instruction for children and youth living in low income households.
    2. Increase opportunities for residents to engage across racial/ethnic lines through the arts.
    3. Restore and leverage significant historic buildings and architectural landmarks, with a preference for sites that promote cultural tourism. (Defining historic as official recognition by State/National Register of Historic Places or local preservation ordinance.)

Print and/or download Community Goals and Solutions.

Special consideration will be given to requests which advance racial equity:
NOTE: In addition to the four Community Goals and corresponding Solutions, special funding is available to support the following:

  • Programs that serve the visual, speech or hearing impaired (~$5,000)
    • Preference for this special funding will be given to applications that align with one or more of the four Community Goals

Funding Amounts

The historical average for a competitive grant through this process is approximately $20,000.
The maximum grant available through the Community Foundation competitive process is $50,000.
Grants in the amount of $50,000 are rare and usually awarded when a unique opportunity, such as a funding match, is presented.

Should an organization be requesting more than $50,000, they must contact the Foundation in advance to discuss their request.


The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo begins accepting Letters of Intent (LOI) January 1.
The LOI is the first step in the Community Foundation’s 2018 competitive grant process. It involves completion of a simple electronic form to determine if a project merits further consideration in light of available resources and current priorities.

  • Letter of Intent online: January 1
  • Letter of Intent submissions due: February 2 by 4pm (submissions must be sent electronically utilizing the Foundant Grant Cycle Manager, which can be accessed through the link above. No pdf or paper copies will be accepted.)
  • Selected organizations notified to submit full applications: March 19
  • Briefing for those invited to submit a full application: March 23 at 1pm
  • Selected organizations full applications due: April 20 by 4pm
  • Funding decisions announced: ~Early June


  • Grants are awarded only to organizations that have current Section 501(c)(3) status as determined by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Applicants must be located in or serving one of the eight counties of Western New York: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming.
  • Any one organization may submit up to two LOI maximum. An invitation to submit a full Funding request must be for the same amount requested in your Letter of Intent submission, unless a change is approved by the Foundation.
  • Any one organization may submit up to two LOI maximum. If an invitation to submit a full application is extended, only one of the LOI will be chosen and that choice is at the full discretion of the Foundation.
  • At any given time, organizations can only have one open Community Foundation competitive grant. Should you have an open grant from the 2017 or prior cycle, you are ineligible.
  • Eligible organizations can receive only one competitive grant per year.
  • On a very limited basis, the Foundation will offer the opportunity for two-year support with second-year support contingent upon year-one outcomes.
  • The Foundation requires that all grants be closed out within one year of the receipt of funds, with the exception of two-year awards.
  • The Foundation is receptive to requests that address advocacy, research and policy analysis aligned with the four Community Goals.
  • The Foundation will consider the applicant’s board, including the diversity of representation, in the evaluation process. Please be aware that commencing with the 2017 grant cycle, the Foundation gives board diversification increased weighting when making final decisions. The ethnic/racial composition of the board of any organization should represent the community it serves.
  • The Foundation is a strong supporter of the charitySTRONG initiative, which assists public charities in achieving the highest standards of board leadership, governance and oversight. We recommend organizations utilize this service to improve their capacity, strengthen their boards by providing access to a pool of talent for board service and governance resources:
  • The Foundation will consider allowing up to 10% of the grant amount for indirect costs.
  • The Foundation reserves the right to pay grants in a single installment or in “draws” at its sole discretion.
  • The Foundation requires that all successful applicants obtain three bids for any equipment purchase.
  • The Community Foundation reserves the right to conduct an independent evaluation of grant expenditures for up to four years after the grant’s completion. The grantee agrees to provide the information necessary for such an evaluation. Failure to submit requested information in a timely fashion may obligate the grantee to refund the grant.
  • The use of grant funds for purposes not pre-approved by the Foundation or not supported through required documentation will result in a request that those grant funds be returned to the Foundation.
  • The failure of an applicant to properly close out a grant in a timely manner will be a factor when considering new grants.

Please note that the Foundation will not consider competitive funding for:

  • Higher education scholarships (separate application, deadlines and process)
  • Projects outside the eight Western New York counties (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming)
  • Religious purposes
  • Schools not registered with the New York State Education Department
  • Attendance at or sponsorship of fundraising events for organizations
  • Annual events or festivals
  • Any partisan political activity (funds from the foundation cannot be used to support or oppose a candidate for political office) Projects and activities that have occurred (the Foundation will not, except in extraordinary cases, provide payment or reimbursement for expenses incurred prior to the funding decision being communicated to the applicant)


For more information about the Foundation’s grant process contact Darren Penoyer by email at or at (716) 852-2857 ext 206.

Past Cycle's Grant Recipients