Where the NBCUniversal Foundation Is Focusing Its Local Giving in the U.S.

PHOTO: JULIA TIM/SHUTTERSTOCK

PHOTO: JULIA TIM/SHUTTERSTOCK

NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation, is one of the world’s leading media companies. It owns and operates numerous television networks, a premier motion picture company, television production operations, a television stations group, theme parks, and Internet businesses. But why we’re particularly interested in this company right now is because its philanthropic foundation has launched a competitive grant challenge to support local nonprofits that are developing community solutions with the help of technology and innovation.

Last year, the NBCUniversal Foundation awarded $2.475 million in Project Innovation grants to 62 nonprofits in 11 local markets. NBC and Telemundo stations (Telemundo is a division of NBCU) selected these grantees on the strength of their programs to address community challenges. For its second year, the corporate funder has announced it will award approximately $2.5 million in 2019 for the same types of causes.

More specifically, the funder is looking for grants that fit into one of four distinct categories. Its culture of inclusion category includes programs that build pathways for equitable and diverse communities. The next generation storytellers category is for programs that empower the next generation of storytellers while using the media to expand these stories’ impact. NBCUniversal is also looking for youth education programs that focus on STEM and STEAM teachings. Finally, community engagement grants will fund programs that bring people together to volunteer in their home communities.

So, which local communities are on the NBCUniveral Foundation’s radar right now? Here’s a list:

  • San Francisco Bay Area

  • Boston

  • Chicago

  • Southern California

  • Hartford, Connecticut

  • Dallas/Fort Worth

  • New York

  • Philadelphia

  • Washington, DC

  • Miami/Fort Lauderdale

  • San Diego

In the past, the NBCUniversal Foundation provided grants in the areas of arts and media, community development, civic engagement, education, environment, economic empowerment, and technology. But this particular Project Innovation effort is more targeted and just entering its second year of operations. Previously successful nonprofits secured Project Innovation grants by pitching programs that address disengagement in government elections, create storytelling-focused YouTube channels for local youth, and promote STEM/STEAM education efforts in local schools.

Valari Staab, President, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, said in a press release:

As local broadcasters, it is part of our responsibility to empower and inspire positive change in our communities. Our 2018 Project Innovation grant winners are doing amazing things to help grow and develop our youth and overall create stronger communities.  We couldn’t be more proud of them. We look forward to announcing our new Project Innovation winners next year.

Although the foundation has a nationwide reach, for this grant opportunity it is really looking for locally based nonprofits that are solving their own communities’ problems. Applicants must have operating budgets over $100,000 to apply for an NBCUniversal grant and have been in operation for at least a year. There will be two rounds of judge evaluations, concluding with local NBC and Telemundo stations choosing between three and eight winners in each market. The initiative’s websites are in both English and Spanish to encourage bilingual nonprofits to access grant-related information and apply for grants.

The NBCUniversal Foundation is accepting 2019 Project Innovation grant applications until February 15, 2019.