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Community Foundation Competitive Grants

Maximizing Impact in the Community

At 100 years old, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is committed to making grants that maximize impact on the eight counties of Western New York within four Community Goals.  These Goals were selected by the Board of Directors as a result of a thorough strategic planning process using the most up-to-date data and information available.

How to Apply

 The Community Foundation competitive process has two stages.  The first step is completion of an online Letter of Intent (LOI).  The LOI requests basic information to determine fit with the Foundation’s Community Goals.  The LOI that align best with the Goals are invited to submit a full application.

LOI and applications are submitted electronically online through the Foundant Grant Lifecycle Manager.  No paper, emailed, or pdf applications are accepted.

Detailed Guidelines/Additional Information

Please click here to download the detailed Community Foundation competitive process general information and guidelines.

Grant Opportunity

The Community Foundation’s competitive grants will align with one or more of the four following Community Goals and the Solutions detailed below:

 Special consideration will be given to requests which advance racial equity:

I. 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.

II. 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.

III. 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.

IV. 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.)

Note: Special funding is available to support the following:

  • Programs that serve the visual, speech or hearing impaired (~$5,000)
  • Programs that shelter, preserve and enhance the environment of animals and wildlife (~$10,000)

Preference for this special funding will be given to applications that align with one or more of the four Community Goals.

Historically, the average grant from this process is ~$20,000

The maximum grant available is $50,000.  Grants of this size are limited and usually awarded when a unique opportunity, such as a funding match, is presented.  If an organization wishes to submit a request for more than the maximum amount, they must contact the Foundation in advance to discuss their application.


  • LOI available online January 1, 2020
  • LOI due February 3, 2020 at 4 PM. No exceptions
  • Selected organizations invited to submit full applications April 3, 2020
  • Grant information briefing for full application invitees April 10, 2020, 10 AM
  • Application due May 4, 2020 by 4 PM. No exceptions
  • Decision notification mid-July 2020


  • 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 or delivering services in at least one of the eight counties of Western New York: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming.
  • At any given time, organizations can only have one open Community Foundation competitive grant.  If you have an open grant from the 2019 or prior cycle, you are ineligible.


For more information about the Community Foundation competitive grants process, please contact Darren Penoyer by email at or at 716-852-2857, x206.

Past Cycle's Grant Recipients

Please click here for 2019 Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Competitive Grant Awards

Simple Focus Areas and Solutions

Please click here for the 2020 Simple Focus Areas and Solutions