This Funder Supports Community Culture (Especially of Asian Heritage)

The Cathay Bank Foundation is the nonprofit affiliate of Cathay Bank, which has a history and organizing principle that also illuminates its nonprofit giving.

Cathay Bank opened in 1962, “with the mission of providing financial services to the growing but underserved Chinese-American community,” starting in Los Angeles as the first Chinese-American bank in Southern California, and expanding from there with a “rapid expansion. . . fueled by successive waves of immigration, burgeoning trade between America and Asia, and the economic development of the surrounding community.”           

By extension, the Cathay Bank Foundation's mission is “to enhance the growth and success of communities in which the Bank serves.” The foundation lists affordable housing, community and economic development, and education as its three largest priorities, with additional consideration given to arts and culture, health and welfare, environmental issues, human services needs, and “programs that benefit the communities at large.”

That is, so long as those “communities at large” are in the states of California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington, which are currently where its banks are located.

"Arts and culture" is a secondary focus. In fact, though the foundation lists it as a focus area, neither the term "art" nor the term "culture" get any mention when the Cathay Bank Foundation breaks down its giving. Arts and culture likely falls under the foundation's "Civic & Community" umbrella, which comprises "civic organizations that focus on development of neighborhoods and raising awareness of social issues," as well as "community organizing and leadership development. Your community arts project should be placed in this context.

It's also important that your progrom focus on low- to middle-income (LMI) communities, which are the emphasized beneficiaries for this foundation. And while the foundation does give beyond its connections to Chinese and Asian Americans, there’s no question those racial, ethnic, and immigrant groups are priorities.

Most grants from the Cathay Bank Foundation fall in the $1,000 - $10,000 range, with recent community arts grantees including the Taiwanese American Heritage Week in Los Angeles ($10,000), the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City ($10,000), the Flushing Council on Culture and Arts in Flushing, NY ($10,000) and the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston ($5,000).

The Cathay Bank Foundation has an LOI open to all, inviting anyone who fits the bill to submit a traditional LOI letter on a rolling basis. From there, its invite-only grant application has an August deadline; plan your LOI submission accordingly.


Cathay Bank Foundation: Grants for New York City

Cathay Bank Foundation: Grants for Los Angeles

Cathay Bank Foundation: Grants for the Southwest