GWCF-Sponsored Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program for Food Security

Application Deadline: April 29, 2022

Grant Program Guidelines


Greater Worcester Community Foundation (GWCF) has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to administer the CARES Act Community Development Block Grant (“CDBG-CV”) Food Security Program in Central and Southern Worcester County.  

This grant is intended to direct vital resources to individuals and households experiencing food insecurity as a result of COVID-19. GWCF’s goal is to significantly impact vulnerable and underserved populations across central and southern Worcester County who are living below 80% of the applicable area median income and households with no, or very limited, access to sources of economic relief. 

What We Seek to Fund

Funds are intended to support capacity building for food security programs demonstrably affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. Grants will be made available to Community Based Organizations (CBOS) that seek to expand and/or improve the capacity of food provision programs to deliver services – specifically through the purchase of operational supplies and equipment.

Activities must meet applicable CDBG-CV requirements, which includes that a public service must be either: 

  • A new service; or
  • A quantifiable increase in the level of a service above that which has been provided as a result of Covid-19.
    • There must be documentation that the public service prepares for, responds to, or prevents the impacts of Covid 19.
    • This requirement is intended to prevent the substitution of CDBG funds for recent support of public services by the grant recipient using local or state government funds. 

Grant Range

Most grants awarded will fall in the range of $5,000 to $100,000. Grants outside of that range may be considered, pending discussion and consultation with the state.

Grant Timeline

All approved projects must be completed/executed by March 31, 2023, with final submission of all financial and reporting documentation no later than June 30, 2023.

Funds may be used for:

  • Hard costs: The purchase of supplies and equipment.
    • This can include vehicles and technology, if used exclusively for service expansion.
  • Soft costs: The installation and/or assembly of supplies and equipment (state-set terms & conditions apply).
  • Administrative costs: Personnel time related to managing purchases and installation; temporary insurance expenses, licensing and/or permitting fees (state-set terms & conditions apply.).

Funds may NOT be used for:

  • Real estate purchases and/or property capital improvements.
  • Gift cards or direct cash assistance.

If the CBO will be applying for, or has already received, ARPA funds, they may also apply for CDBG funding as long as there is no “Duplication of Benefits.” 

HUD defines a Duplication of Benefits as occurring when a person, household, business, government, or other entity receives financial assistance from multiple sources for the same purpose, and the total assistance received for that purpose is more than the total need for assistance. 

The CDBG funds must be used to address a different need, or if the CBO can demonstrate that other funding sources were grossly insufficient funds to address the total need.

Qualifications for Project Participation

Organization Type. Qualified 501(c)(3) CBOs – or CBOs in a formal fiscal sponsorship relationship with a qualified 501(c)(3) CBO (pending state approval)  - working in the food security space will be eligible to apply for these grants. 

  • Priority consideration will be given to food banks, food pantries, food delivery/pickup programs, food/meal packaging programs, and other programs working to provide food to needy households.
  • We will also consider organizations whose primary intent is providing food to the needy, that do so by benefiting restaurants, servers and other workers, food suppliers, and farmers. 

Geography. CBOs may only apply for services delivered in the following Cities and Towns in Central and Southern Worcester County: 

  • Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Blackstone, Boylston, Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Grafton, Hardwick, Holden, Hopedale, Leicester, Mendon, Milbury, Milford, Millville, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Northborough, Northbridge, Oakham, Oxford, Paxton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Warren, Webster, West Boylston, West Brookfield, Westborough, Worcester.

Population Served. Each project funded must be able to demonstrate that at least 51% of the persons being provided assistance qualifies as having low or moderate income (up to 80% of area median income).

Impact. CBOs that apply must:

  • Have a history of serving low-income and non-English or limited English speaking and historically underserved communities,
  • Have a history of serving populations whose economic hardship has been exacerbated by COVID-19,
  • Can demonstrate that their numbers served have increased due to the pandemic and will continue their food programs over 18 months,
  • Have the ability to conduct outreach to identify individuals and households that qualify for assistance; and, 
  • Have the ability to adhere to reporting requirements of CDBG.

Funding Conditions

This funding opportunity is a reimbursement grant program. A reimbursement grant provides funding to grant recipients after expenses have been incurred. 

  • The grantee must follow a certain procedure to obtain the reimbursement for project expenses.
  • Reimbursements are provided on a set payment schedule after the organization has submitted sufficient documents to the program administrator to verify expenses that are then approved by the State.

A reimbursement grant program can be difficult for small organizations that run on tight and/or limited budgets. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, interested organizations with annual budgets below $100,000 may be eligible for bridge funding to offset the burden of awaiting reimbursement. This can be requested in the application process.

Project Evaluation

The pool of applications will be evaluated in three ways:

  • Eligibility: Staff from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will verify that projects submitted are eligible for CDBG funding and meet the terms & conditions of this grant program.
  • Relevance: Community-based reviewers will assess the community benefit and impact of projects submitted, and apply that towards the priority ranking of the projects.
  • Values Alignment: Community-based reviewers will also assess the applying CBOs on their commitment to Racial Equity, Community Voice, and Systems Change, as defined below, and apply that towards the priority rank of the projects:
    • We believe racial equity to be the condition achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.  We believe equity is one part of racial justice, and thus we also include in our approach work that addresses root causes of inequities, not just their manifestations.
    • Community voice exists within organizations who help amplify, uplift and center community needs/voice and share power. Organizations with strong community voice co-create and lead programming and create structures in partnership or led by those more impacted by the issue.
    • Related to both racial equity and community voice, we are interested in supporting organizations that are looking closely at ways to move our community to a more equitable place by engaging in advocacy and policy efforts that will result in systems change and address root causes.

Application Timeline

March 28: Application is available on the Foundation’s online platform here.

Monday, April 4, 10:00 - 11:30am: GWCF will host a webinar for interested CBOs. The webinar will include information on the application process, and a sharing session where CBOs can share the projects they are thinking about, and get feedback from others on how to best shape it for the application. Click here to register.

April 29: Application deadline.

By June 1: Grant decisions will be announced. Shortly thereafter, all grantees will be convened to review the contract and reporting requirements with the Foundation and the State. And, of course, projects can get underway.

By March 31, 2023: All projects are to be completed.

By June 30, 2023: All reporting is to be completed.


Sample CDBG Reporting Template


Contact Jonathan Cohen, Vice-President for Programs & Strategy, 

Apply Online

The application is entirely online.

Apply Here

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