December 2011 marked the close of our Regional Grants Program, offered in its current configuration since late 2001. During that time, the Foundation awarded more than 200 grants totaling $3 million in four interest areas: Youth Development and Opportunity, Community Building, Preservation of Community Character & Assets and Capacity Building.
It’s been a wonderful program that has enabled the Foundation to work with a broad array of nonprofits in our catchment area on a variety of issues but it was time for a change. Recent economic conditions highlighted the need for us to narrow our focus to help our grant partners to achieve greater impact.
During our strategic planning session in the fall of 2010, Foundation Trustees chose to sharpen that focus from four issue areas to just one: Youth Development. After some discussion we decided to call the Program “Children, Youth & Families” to include children of all ages and parents of young children who play such a crucial role in insuring kids get off to a good start in life. We’ve spent most of 2011 listening and learning about good programs, good agencies and good grantmaking practices. (Our thanks to all who took the time to chat with us.) Details of the new program can be found here.
In the meantime, we acknowledge with some regret that our new focus will mean a parting of the ways with some long-time programs and friends who no longer fit our revised funding guidelines. We hope there will still be ways to work together and we’ll continue to be on the lookout for resources to share with the nonprofits in our region whether we fund them directly or not.