Essex County Community Foundation: Grants for Massachusetts

OVERVIEW: The Essex County Community Foundation provides grants to Essex County, Massachusetts nonprofits in the areas of human services, arts and culture, environment, and education.

FUNDING AREAS: Human services, arts and culture, environment, education

IP TAKE: Take some time to learn about the various competitive grant funds at ECCF in order to apply to the most relevant one.

PROFILE: Founded in 1999, the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) is the community funder that serves Essex County, Massachusetts. This foundation awards more than $4 million grants each year to local nonprofits to improve the quality of life in the 34 cities and towns that make up the county. It has over 180 charitable funds under management. ECCF aims to “educate nonprofit leaders in sound business practice, and to connect those leaders with local funding to support their work.” The primary funding areas include human services, arts and culture, the environment, and education.

ECCF awards grants through its many charitable funds, most of which are donor-advised funds. However, the community foundation also has a competitive grant program in which it invites nonprofits to submit proposals for possible funding. There are multiple competitive grant programs managed by ECCF. The Creative County Initiative Creative Placemaking Partnership provides partnerships for local creative culture, the Creative County Initiative Public Art Partnership provides public art partnerships in Essex County, and the Emergency Fund provides funding for capital and disaster projects. First Jobs is a program that provides summer teen employment on the North Shore, the Fund for Essex County Excellence provides capacity building support, and the Greater Lawrence Community Fund and Summer Fund support the towns of Lawrence, Andover, North Andover, and Methuen. Finally, ECCF’s North Shore Community Health Network provides community health improvement support, and the Women’s Fund of Essex County supports local women and girls.

Foundation grants tend to range between $5,000 and $50,000. Each of the competitive grant programs mentioned above has its own set of guidelines and deadlines. Overall, the foundation restricts grantmaking to nonprofits based in and that serve Essex County, Massachusetts. In addition to grants, ECCF also awards scholarships to local students.

The ECCF grant application process is all online, and the funder provides an application process PDF and video tutorial to help grantseekers through the process. ECCF accepts unsolicited grant applications from nonprofits throughout the year without any initial LOI required. The foundation frequently conducts site visits as part of its evaluation process. Grantseekers may direct general questions to staff at 978-777-8876 or


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