We award competitive grants once a year

To be eligible for the annual competitive grant competition organizations must meet the following eligibly criteria:

  • Be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Be up-to-date with Internal Revenue Service 990 tax form filings and have filed for at least one fiscal year.
  • Be serving Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, or Citrus counties
  • Be able to apply under the organization’s own tax exempt EIN
  • Be in compliance with all requirements of previous funds awarded through Community Foundation Tampa Bay including reporting requirements

*Organizations may be asked to verify their eligibility prior to receiving an award. 

DOWNLOAD WORD DOCUMENT OF 2023/2024 COMPETITIVE GRANT LETTER OF INTENT

DOWNLOAD PDF OF 2023/2024 COMPETITIVE GRANT LETTER OF INTENT

Watch the 2023/2024 Annual Competitive Grant Information Session Webinar above.  

View the Competitive Grant Information Session PowerPoint presentation here. 

How It Works

The competitive grants process has two stages: letter of intent and full application. During the specified timeframe, eligible nonprofits may submit a letter of intent (LOI) to outline a funding need. We will then review the LOIs and invite several to proceed to a full application.

DOWNLOAD WORD DOCUMENT OF 2023/2024 COMPETITIVE GRANT LETTER OF INTENT

DOWNLOAD PDF OF 2023/2024 COMPETITIVE GRANT LETTER OF INTENT

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The Review

More than 50 reviewers assess the full applications. The reviewers include Foundation staff and members of our regional councils, and Board of Trustees. The process is highly competitive. Only about one in 7 letters of intent receive funding. It is important to note that most proposals we receive meet all the minimum requirements. Our discretionary funding is not enough to fund every good idea. That is why we share the top vetted applications with donors, other funders and the community.

Do your best to communicate what sets your organization apart. And please know that results are not an indication of the worthiness of your project.

Focus Areas For Competitive Grants

Through and with our donors, we fund organizations and projects across the nonprofit spectrum. With our discretionary grants, we target five areas of focus. This helps us better concentrate our impact.

Economic Opportunity

High quality adult education, training, and skill building that leads to employment and promotes personal and financial prosperity.

Eligible programs in this focus area may include, but are not limited to:

  • Career readiness and employment
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial literacy
  • On-the-Job training and apprenticeship
  • Post-Secondary training and education

Environmental Resiliency and Sustainability

Supporting a thriving environment that is resilient and sustainable for generations to come.

Eligible programs in this focus area may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conservation
  • Environmental education
  • Environmental justice
  • Environmental resiliency and disaster recovery
  • Improving green spaces
  • Land preservation
    Protection of natural resources

Physical Health and Mental Wellbeing

Access to resources that address an individual’s health and wellbeing including basic needs such as food, shelter, safety, physical and mental health services.

Eligible programs in this focus area may include, but are not limited to:

  • Addressing the stigma of mental health challenges
  • Drug and alcohol counseling
  • Emergency and transitional housing
  • Feeding programs
  • Promoting healthy minds and bodies
  • Trauma informed care

Quality Child and Youth Education

Access to high-quality, affordable, personalized learning opportunities, from birth through high school

Eligible programs in this focus area may include, but are not limited to:

  • Career exploration
  • Child and youth development
  • Digital inclusion and digital literacy
  • Early literacy programs
  • Enrichment programs
  • Kindergarten readiness
  • Social emotional learning

Vibrant and Engaged Communities

Vibrant spaces and inclusive programming for residents to enjoy, thrive, engage, and work.

Eligible programs in this focus area may include, but are not limited to:

  • Access to arts and culture for those with disabilities
  • Arts and culture projects that addresses complex social issues
  • Art programming in low-income communities
  • Creating community spaces including gardens and parks
  • Development of community art
  • Facilitating community collaborations and conversations

Applying

Previous Grants

Next Steps

Acknowledgment and Reporting

We encourage you to acknowledge your grant from the Community Foundation Tampa Bay — whether you receive the grant through the competitive grants process or as a grant from one of our donor advised funds or foundations. Please share on your website, social media, newsletter and other appropriate places. You will find guidelines and helpful information in the PR Toolkit below. We also welcome an opportunity to make a formal check presentation to your Board.

A follow-up report will be due online one year after you receive funding.

Competitive Grants Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria

Reviewers use these criteria as a guide, not a definitive checklist. Overall, we look for signs of efficient and effective organizations. We want to hear about how you are achieving success. Please ensure that your submissions are complete, contain sufficient detail to describe your project, and are well-written.

Vulnerable Populations

Services to vulnerable populations including those who have traditionally been marginalized and/or lack access to resources.

Collaboration

Authentic and intentional collaboration among organizations including nonprofit, for-profit, governmental, community and private organizations for the purpose of sharing resources and increasing impact.

Best Practices

Programs that are based on best-practices, grounded in research, and/or have demonstrated a positive impact on the target population.

Sustained Impact

Programs that demonstrate ongoing and sustained impact, continuing the program or aspects of a program beyond the funding provided by Community Foundation Tampa Bay.

Quantify the Impact

The ability to quantify the impact of a program on the target population.

Frequently Asked Questions and Tips 

During the last competitive grant cycle about 1 in 4 Letters of Intent (LOIs) received funding.  Of those invited to submit a full application, about 1/2 were funded.

View our Previous Grants Awarded to get an idea of the proposals that have been awarded.

Yes, this is a requirement of nonprofits to participate in Community Foundation Tampa Bay’s annual competitive grants process. As good stewards of fundholder assets, Community Foundation Tampa Bay has a responsibility to ensure that funded organizations are in compliance with IRS regulations and have an acceptable track record of filings. If your organization is not eligible to participate this year because you do not meet the requirement, you may be eligible next year or the following year as long as you meet the additional eligibility criteria:

  • Be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Be up to date with Internal Revenue Service 990 tax form filings and have filed for at least 1 fiscal year
  • Be serving Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, or Citrus counties
  • Be able to apply under the organization’s own tax-exempt EIN
  • Be in compliance with all requirements of previous funds awarded through Community Foundation Tampa Bay including reporting requirements

Please be sure to check our website and sign up for our newsletter to make sure you are informed about other opportunities for which you may be eligible.

No, this was a previous requirement of nonprofits to participate in Community Foundation Tampa Bay’s annual competitive grants process. This requirement has been removed.

No, this was a previous requirement of nonprofits to participate in Community Foundation Tampa Bay’s annual competitive grants process. This requirement has been removed.

There is no preference given to previous applicants.

Generally, our competitive grants are not designed to fund:

  • Academic scholarships
  • Annual appeals, capital campaign, fundraising events, membership contributions, etc.
  • Capital funding for building and building renovations
  • General operating and administrative costs
  • Grants to individuals (rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Medical or scientific research
  • Political campaigns or direct lobbying efforts
  • Religious or sectarian purposes

Nonprofits that receive a competitive grant are required to submit a final report within a year of receiving the grant. The report must include demographic information about those served by the project, measurement metrics and a final budget that details how the grant was spent.

Our average competitive grant award in 2023 was $22,413, but grant amounts ranged from $6,000 to $50,000.

Any nonprofit serving Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando or Citrus counties is eligible to compete for a grant.

12 Tips for Successful Grant Proposals

If you do some research and make a personal connection with your funder, your proposal is more apt to align with their goals.
Some funders are all about helping you operate at maximum capacity, while others are more interested in funding an initiative that can take your work to the next level.
Ask for the formal rubric for scoring the grant. Many funders will share them. If there isn’t one, that may tell you that your story is more important than the technical points.
Painting the picture of the impact you make on the people you serve is often an overlooked element in a successful proposal. Weave your story in with the plan for what you hope to accomplish.
Funders want to see that you have support from numerous sources. If most of your money comes from one source, you could be at risk if that funding is lost.
It’s important to articulate what you can do for your funder. Do they want credit? Can you help them look good to their boards? Can you enhance their reputation in the community?
Be respectful of the funder that took a chance on you. If your existing funder feels a sense of ownership, they may be uncomfortable with a new funder getting equal recognition.
How often and how much does your funder want updates? Beyond the formal reporting requirements, be willing to offer occasional informal progress check-ins.
If you don’t get funding, set up a meeting to learn why. Feedback is an invaluable process of putting together a strong grant.
You’re spending time and money on this so begin to track the effort. You want to balance effort with opportunity, so be sure to consider all the costs before applying.
Plain language almost always wins out over jargon and academic language. Keep it simple while still demonstrating the value of your work and its complexities.
There are funders who are willing to take a risk on a big idea. Demonstrate confidence in your ability to see something through and be honest about the outcomes, even if they are not favorable.
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