We serve as a connector, collaborator, convener and a catalyst. Our mission is to create positive change in our community. Our competitive grants process is one of the best ways for us to learn about the creative ideas of our local nonprofits. Together, we work to build a better community.

The grant submissions help us decide where to focus our competitive grants money. Also, we share the information with donors who have a similar passion. This gives them an opportunity to know about you and your work in the community and to contribute.


Grants proposals are reviewed and awarded based on five focus areas:

Community Vibrancy

Purpose: Improving local communities through access and appreciation of arts and culture; flourishing local environmental resources; and collaboration among residents.

Rationale: Residents of engaged communities are more likely to be healthy, well-educated and secure. A vibrant, active community is essential for the well-being of its residents and for building a sense of community.

Economic Mobility

Purpose: Providing educational opportunities where everyone, regardless of their status in life, has the ability to improve their economic status.

 Rationale: Education opens doors and changes lives. Many at-risk students are unable to take advantage of educational opportunities due to their life situations. Expanding the number of individuals with a post-secondary credential uplifts the entire community.

Empowering Women and Girls

Purpose: Addressing the unique needs of at-risk women and girls in terms of safety and security; health and well-being; and economic opportunity.

Rationale: In addition to gender inequities in areas such as salary and promotion, one in three women experiences some sort of physical violence in her lifetime and women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression.

Mental Well-Being

Purpose: Fostering a state of well-being in which every individual can realize their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to their community.

Rationale: One in six adults in the US has experienced a mental illness within the last year. Those experiencing mental health conditions can be further impacted by stigma, which can be caused by fear and a lack of understanding; and can lead to harassment, bullying, and discrimination.

Positive Education

Purpose: Promoting educational environments that meet students where they are developmentally and emphasize a growth mindset in encouraging them to connect with their passions as they progress along their academic career.

Rationale: Depression has been on the rise since World War II and almost one in five students will experience a major depressive episode before graduating high school. Positive Education is a strength-based approach that emphasizes critical life skills such as grit, optimism, resilience, growth mindset, engagement, and mindfulness.


The competitive grants process has two stages: the Letter of Intent and the Full Application.

During the specified time-frame, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits may submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to outline a funding need. (See the Competitive Grant Timeline below). We will review the LOIs and invite some nonprofits to proceed to a Full Application.

More than 50 reviewers assess the Full Applications. The reviewers include Foundation staff and members of our regional councils, Grants Committee and Board of Trustees.

The process is highly competitive. Only about one in five Letters of Intent receive funding. About half of those that advance to the Full Application receive funding.

It is important to note that most proposals we receive meet all the minimum requirements. There is seldom enough money to fund every good idea. So you will need to clearly communicate what sets your organization apart from others doing similar work. Do your best and please know that results are not an indication of the worthiness of your project or the mission of your nonprofit.


Overall, we look for signs of efficient and effective organizations. The other criteria below are a general guide and not a definitive checklist. We are interested in learning about how your organization is achieving success.

First, we examine every Letter of Intent (LOI) and Full Application for quality and completeness. Please ensure that your submissions are fully completed, contain sufficient detail to describe your project, and are well written.

In addition, there are five universal areas that are reviewed:

  • Collaboration: We look for demonstrations of partnerships, such as third-party letters of support, and/or multiple funding sources.
  • Innovation: Innovation can be a two-edged sword. You want to show how your project is different, while also ensuring that it is founded in research and best practice.
  • Measurable Outcomes: Reviewers today think of competitive grants as investments. Therefore, we look for metrics that support the work and  demonstrate positive impact in the community. Include any data on your current project outcomes and show what data you will collect to show strong outcomes for the proposed project. Data should go beyond process (how many people participate, for example) to show true impact.
  • Community Visibility: Proposed projects should be visible in the community to encourage future support and funding opportunities for your organization.
  • Equity: In addition to evaluating projects in terms of the population being served and the impact on the overall community, careful attention will be paid to ensuring projects incorporate inclusive practices and equitable outcomes.

To be eligible for a competitive grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, your organization must:

  • Be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Be based in or serving Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, or Citrus counties
  • Exhibit strong management and sound leadership.

Your proposed project should address a specific identified and prioritized need and leverage dollars and/or people to make a difference within the community.

Generally, our competitive grants are not designed to fund:

  • Grants to individuals (rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Operating, administration or fundraising costs
  • Annual appeals, fundraising events, membership contributions
  • Capital campaigns or purchase of capital items over $1,000
  • Political campaigns or direct lobbying efforts
  • Religious or sectarian purposes
  • Medical or scientific research.


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.


You are strongly encouraged to acknowledge receipt of a grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay on your website, on social media, in your newsletter, in a media release and/or by other appropriate means. You will find guidelines and helpful information in our Grant Acknowledgement/PR Tool Kit.