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 four focus areas:


Academic opportunities prepare students of all ages for higher education and employment. So, access to quality education opens doors and changes lives. This is especially important for under-represented students and those living in poverty.

Expanding the number of individuals who have a degree or professional credential can uplift the whole community.

Grants will be awarded to organizations that support effective educational programs that grow and better prepare the future workforce.

Arts and Culture

We believe that thriving arts and cultural activities are key for vibrant and strong communities. Researchers find strong connections between arts training and improvements in cognition, attention and learning.

Public art opportunities also can create a sense of pride and help rejuvenate a community.

Grants will be awarded to organizations that provide access to and stimulate an appreciation of our community’s artistic and cultural life.

Health and/or Human Services

We know that a healthy community is strengthened by a shared belief in helping our neighbors in need.

Health and human services programs enhance health and well-being. Ideally, programs should be focused on at-risk populations and should improve lives and  lift individuals out of poverty.

Grants will be awarded to organizations that promote wellness, mental health, and/or benefit those suffering from poverty, discrimination, and violence.

Environmental Restoration and/or Animal Welfare:

We believe it is important to preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment and assure the well-being of animals.

Therefore, our focus is on conserving natural resources and, where possible, repairing damage and reversing trends.

Grants will be awarded to organizations that improve the quality of our environment and/or benefit our animal community.


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 four 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.

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.