East Bay Community Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: The East Bay Community Foundation combines the assets of nine smaller foundations in Alameda and Contra Costa that support civic and neighborhood projects. East Bay focuses all of its grantmaking on economic development and early childhood education.

IP TAKE: Although early childhood education is a very specific grantmaking category, you can incorporate recession rebounds into nearly any program your organization is running. Don't be scared off by the economic stability category. Most of the foundation money flows here, and it often goes to medical, educational, and human service causes.

PROFILE: The East Bay Community Foundation focuses its funding on economic security and quality education for the residents of East Bay cities and East Bay cities only. Hence the name. The foundation pours an average of about $50 million in grants a year into the East Bay area. That number was a bit higher in recent years, at around $65 million.

The Foundation stewards more than 500 charitable funds and endowments for general community benefit or designated purposes, including more than 300 donor advised funds. Its funds encompass donor advised funds, affiliate funds, and supporting foundations. A list of fundholders can be found on the foundation website. Charitable assets under our management have totaled more than $395 million.

You must be one of Alameda or Contra Costa's 2.5 million residents to become a donor or a recipient of the foundation. More specifically, this umbrella foundation lumps together nine smaller community funds that focus on civic and neighborhood projects. The nine funds are: 

  • Albany Community Foundation
  • Berkeley Community Fund
  • Crockett Community Foundation
  • Fremont Community Foundation
  • Martinez Community Fund
  • Pleasant Hill Community Foundation
  • Rodeo Community Organization
  • Rodeo Good Neighbor Fund
  • West Berkeley Foundation 

East Bay's Economic Development program focuses its grantmaking on removing barriers to employment for East Bay residents and helping them to build financial stability. In addition, East Bay recently funded the creation of a foreclosure crisis prevention model aimed at helping to keep millions of area homeowners from losing their homes. This model also helps low- to moderate-income families purchase homes. As we all know, the foreclosure crisis and tightened credit market essentially built a huge barrier to entry for many families in the low- to moderate-income ranges.

The foundation's Support for Children to Succeed program awards grants to early childhood education organizations working with children from birth to third grade.

Both of these grantmaking programs are funding through East Bay's discretionary fund. The foundation has limited its grantmaking to a number of organizations of its choosing, so it is not currently accepting unsolicited letters of inquiry or proposals. And it does not plan to do so for the next three years. However, East Bay does occasionally engage in donor-endowed grantmaking in the area of arts, culture, and environment as well. Since 2001, the foundation has been working with BART to encourage public transportation riders to donate unused portions of BART tickets to local nonprofits.

The East Bay Community Foundation makes grants from its own endowment, referred to as “discretionary grantmaking.” It also pools grant funds with its donors interested in collaborating on our strategic grantmaking priorities, a process referred to as “donor-partner grantmaking” or “co-investing.” The community foundation also helps donors develop their own unqiue grantmaking programs.

There are thee donor supported grantmaking programs: Macpherson Fund for Small Arts Organizations, East Bay Fund for Artists, and the Open Circle Foundation. The one environmental donor supported grantmaking program is the Meyers Fund for Environmental Grantmaking, and the education one is the Oakland Unified School District "Expect Success" program. The foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals for donor advised grants but occasionally will post a request for proposals around a specific topic. Check the Donor Supported Grantmaking page for updates on that.

Despite its position on unsolicited proposals, East Bay is always interested in hearing about what neighborhood organizations are up to and what they are doing to better their communities. So while the foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals, it does love hearing about area programs it is not currently funding via email. This gives every East Bay grantseeker an opportunity to wow them with their work and be invited to apply for a grant. Instead of guessing which staff member is most relevant to your cause, send a brief email to grantmaking@eastbaycf.org to introduce yourself.

In a Meet the Grantmakers seminar, the East Bay Community Foundation gave a few pieces of advice to artists and arts groups applying for grants. Choose a submission sample wisely and make sure that it is representative of your full body of work. Ensure that your work is going to be exhibited in at least two California counties. And if your project is accepted, you can expect to receive the amount of funds that you ask for. 

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