How Foundation Grants Can Help Small Cities Achieve Strategic Planning Goals

Posted by Beverly Browning on Aug 3, 2015 4:00:00 AM

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Are you looking to fund a new small-scale project in your city? Did you know that foundation grant makers have historically made grant awards for projects under $50,000 to small cities? Your city could apply for law enforcement equipment, fire services equipment, community garden essentials, capacity building initiatives, and more.

The U.S. government defines a small city as a “territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with a population less than 100,000.” Here are some examples of small cities that have received awards from foundations for essential needs under $50,000.

First Responders

Fire Services: The Bayshore Fire Department in North Fort Myers, Florida (pop. 36,609), is testing out new life-saving equipment thanks to a new grant from a unique organization. The fire department just received a $30,000 grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation (national grant maker). The grant is being used to purchase new equipment that will help the firefighters extract people from vehicles. Another small city that received a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation is the City of Edgewater, Colorado (pop. 5,255). Read more about Bayshore.

Law Enforcement: The Edgewater Police Department received a $4,000 grant to purchase tactical emergency medical supplies, a fully equipped police bicycle, and a tactical ballistic shield. Read more.

Community Gardens

North Lauderdale, Florida (pop. 42,757), received a $10,000 grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida to begin offering small plots to residents interested in growing their own fruits, vegetables, herbs, and plants. The garden was divided up into 18 plots, plus a small area for plantings by kids’ groups. The Foundation awards grants in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties. Read more.

Capacity Building

Egg Harbor City, New Jersey (pop. 4,246), was one of 20 municipalities to receive a $2,000 capacity building grant for a Sustainable New Jersey Small Grants Initiative. The grant was a funded by the PSEG Foundation, which awards grants in New Jersey; New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Albany and Long Island, New York. New Jersey is the first state in the nation to have a comprehensive sustainability program for communities that links certification with strong state and private financial incentives, and a fully resourced program of technical support and training. Read more.

Finding Foundation Funding in Your Region

  • Identify potential foundation grant makers in your city, county, and region.
  • Research their funding priorities: where they fund, what they fund, how much they give, and grant application deadlines.
  • Research their funding request guidelines and how to approach them initially: for example, grant application requirements and the process for being invited to submit a grant application.
  • Build a relationship with the foundation’s program officers.
  • Wait for the invitation to apply for funding for your project.
  • Write competitively and submit your grant application.



Building a Grant Funding Strategy for Cities and Counties

Topics: Foundations, Local Government, Foundation Grants

Building a Grant Funding Strategy for Cities and Counties


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