OVERVIEW: The Cathay Bank Foundation seeks to “create opportunities” for the geographic areas its banks serve, with those opportunities touching upon many different sectors of need and community development.
IP TAKE: The Bay Area is a primary geographic hotspot for this foundation across all of its giving areas, which coincides with the foundation's emphasis on Asian American and Asian immigrant populations. This funder also focuses on fairly established organizations that can show several previous years of programmatic, organizational and financial successes.
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.
Within California, the Bay Area receives a lot of giving attention, second only to the bank's original Los Angeles home. Bay Area grantees span all of the foundation's focus areas, with housing, public health and workforce development leading the way.
No matter your program area, be sure you're focusing on at-risk and low/middle income (LMI) populations, the foundation's target. 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 for the foundation.
Most grants fall in the $1,000 - $10,000 range, with recent Bay Area grantees including:
- $30,000 to Self Help for the Elderly (San Francisco, CA)
- $12,000 to the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (San Francisco, CA)
- $10,000 to the Tower Foundation of San Jose State University (San Jose, CA)
- $10,000 to Project Vision (Berkeley, CA)
- $10,000 to Asian Health Services (Oakland, CA)
- $5,000 to TMC Development Working Solutions (San Francisco, CA)
- $2,500 to Gum Moon Women's Residence (San Francisco, CA).
The 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.
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