Community Grant Program

OVERVIEW: Greater Worcester Community Foundation awards Community Grants to support nonprofit organizations that build healthy and vibrant communities in Central Massachusetts. Community Grants are made possible by donors who have set up endowment funds with us for this purpose. The typical grant ranges is $5,000 to $25,000.


Greater Worcester Community Foundation believes that we will build a stronger community by --

  1. Improving access to community resources for those who have been traditionally excluded or have difficulty because of income or other barriers.
  2. Building upon the assets of a diverse community, addressing injustice, welcoming newcomers, promoting inclusion, and incorporating the views of those who are intended to benefit from programs.
  3. Fostering dynamic collaborations among nonprofits and across sectors through shared goals and productive relationships.
  4. Adopting efforts that are based on proven evidence, for both “tried and true” and more innovative approaches. 
  5. Encouraging nonprofit strength through improved financial conditions, strong management and governance practices, and an expanding base of community support.


Arts and Culture, Civic Engagement, and Environment

We believe that a thriving cultural life and healthy physical environment are fundamental to the well-being of our community. We value accessible opportunities and resources for meaningful civic involvement, a clean and healthy natural environment, and strong institutions for the arts and humanities. We are especially interested in projects that:
  • Create equitable access across boundaries of social or economic status;
  • Inform and improve civic engagement and dialogue;
  • Protect and enhance our region’s natural resources.

Early Childhood Development

A child’s first eight years are the most critical for human development, and we believe that building a solid foundation during these years is the most effective way to assure a healthy and productive life. We are especially interested in programs that:

  • Increase the quality and quantity of formal early education for low-income children;
  • Support parents and families in their roles as teachers, caregivers, and supporters of their children’s development;
  • Help eliminate summer learning loss among low-income children in greater Worcester.

Youth Development and Education 

We invest in the future leaders of our region and are committed to helping young people overcome barriers to success in education, work, and life. We are especially interested in projects and programs that:
  • Effectively support high school graduation and foster the completion of college or other post-secondary education;  
  • Work closely with school systems and other youth-serving organizations;  
  • Provide employment opportunities; 
  • Provide access to networks of support for continuing success through quality relationships with caring adults;  
  • Teach conflict resolution, teamwork, persistence, and other 21st Century skills; 
  • Deliberately and effectively engage high-risk youth. 

Economic Security

Living wages and options for employment are key to the health of our community and its people. We believe that everyone in our area should have access to stable housing and the development of skills for work. We are especially interested in projects and programs that:
  • Effectively prevent homelessness and increase access to affordable housing;  
  • Provide adult basic education, skills training, and English language instruction; 
  • Work in tandem with employers to meet the current demands of our local economy;
  • Address the basic needs of those facing the greatest challenges. 

Healthy Communities

We support our community’s commitment to “health equity” – that “all people, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, sex or age, have equal opportunity to develop and maintain health through equal access to resources.” We are, therefore, especially interested in projects and programs that support the priority areas of the Worcester Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), which are to:

  • Improve population health by systematically eliminating institutional racism and the pathology of oppression and discrimination by promoting equitable access to, and use of, health promoting resources in the community, and significantly reducing the structural and environmental factors that contribute to health inequities.
  • Create a regional community that prevents and reduces substance use disorder and associated stigma for all populations.
  • Create a well-coordinated, respectful, and culturally-responsive environment that encourages prevention of chronic disease, reduction of infant mortality, and access to quality comprehensive care for all.
  • Foster a community responsive to mental health needs of all populations, considerate of all ages and cultures, and resilient to adapt to changing demographics in the population.
  • Improve population health by providing all residents with opportunities to engage in meaningful work with living wages and healthy, safe, and family-friendly working conditions.
  • Enhance the capacity of health and social service agencies to provide culturally-responsive and culturally-appropriate services to area residents to improve health equity.
  • Ensure all people have equal access to healthful foods by building and sustaining communities that support health through investment in the growth, sale and preparation of healthy foods.
  • Improve health for those who live, work, learn and play in the region through safe, equitable access to opportunities for physical activity, with special emphasis on youth, vulnerable, and underserved populations.
  • All residents, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, housing situation, family status, or religion will feel safe, secure, respected and live a life free from violence.

  • Eligibility and Limitations

Applicants must be 501(c)(3) public charities serving Worcester or the cities and towns of Worcester County. Organizations located outside this area must demonstrate the significant role of local partners in order to be considered. Projects that are not incorporated as independent organizations must apply through an established nonprofit as fiscal agent. Public agencies, municipal departments, and houses of worship are not typically eligible to receive Community Grants.


September 15, 2017

Application Forms & Instructions

The application form is online. The first time an organization applies to the Foundation through our online application system, it creates an Organization Account to use for each application going forward. Please use the same account you have previously used, or create a new one if this your first time applying online. You may contact Foundation staff to find out if your organization already has an account in our system.

To help you prepare a more effective proposal, we have created a set of instructions for your use. Click here to view them. We have also created a webinar, which you can view here


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