Cathay Bank Foundation: Grants for Boston

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: While not its primary place of focus, Boston makes the geographic cut for this foundation, especially programming that coincides with the foundation's emphasis on Asian American and Asian immigrant populations. This funder prefers fairly established organizations that can show several previous years of programmatic, organizational and financial successes.


The Cathay Bank Foundation is the nonprofit affiliate of Cathay Bank. The history and organizing principle of this bank 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.

Within Massachusetts, Boston is given the most attenion, though it is a bit down the list in terms of geographic attention overall (the top slot goes to the bank's original Los Angeles home). Boston grantees span all of the foundation's focus areas, with workforce development and youth development leading the way.

No matter your program area, be sure you're focusing on at-risk and low/middle income (LMI) populations, which is 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.

Most grants fall in the $1,000 - $10,000 range, with recent Boston grantees including the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center ($7,000), the Fenway Community Development Corporation ($5,000) and the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center ($3,000).

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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