Community Foundation for Southwest Washington

OVERVIEW: This funder supports basic needs, healthy living, education, environment, arts and culture and neighborhood improvements in the region. Nonprofits in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties may apply for grants.

FUNDING AREAS: Basic needs, healthy living, education, neighborhoods, environment, arts and culture

IP TAKE:  Breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty is top of mind for this funder, right now. Come to CFSW for capital building needs or program support for this cause.

PROFILE: The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington (CFSW) is based in Vancouver, Washington, and was established in 1984. It backs nonprofits serving Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties.

The foundation has awarded over $146 million since it was founded, has charitable assets of over $102.9 million, and manages over 300 funds. In a recent year, the foundation awarded 795 grants, with the average grant a little over $9,000. Recently, it's been giving its largest grants for basic needs and healthy living. Education and communities/neighborhoods also receive a substantial number of grants each year. To a lesser extent, the foundation supports arts and culture, conservation and the environment, and scholarships.

Notably, discretionary grantmaking is on the rise at CFSW. This is especially true in the areas of early learning and intergenerational poverty, the topic of the foundation’s Focus Grants in Southwest Washington. Enrichment Grants support education, arts and culture, health, community building and the environment. The Flexible Grants program supports small nonprofits that take risks, innovate and adapt to local needs.  

There are two grant cycles each year. Nonprofits can apply between December 1 and January 31 and again between June 1 and July 31. The foundation announces recipients in May and November. Grant guidelines can be downloaded from the Grants Program page.

The foundation’s Community Giving Fund has awarded over $2.6 million to local nonprofits with grants ranging from $2,500 to $200,000. The Community Giving Fund supports Clark County nonprofits, while the Cowlitz Community Fund was established specifically for this county and gives about $50,000 to local nonprofits each year.

The foundation’s Early Learning Impact Fund is a field-of-interest fund devoted to early learning programs in the region. Through funds like this, foundation staff proactively awards grants after identifying programs that align with the fund's goals. 

Current financial information is here. The most recent annual reports are here. Other nonprofit services that CFSW provides include organizational endowment funds, capital campaign assistance, and complex gift arrangements.

Keep up with this funder at its blog. Questions about grants can be sent to grants@cfsww.org. There are about 10 staff members and 13 board members at CFSW. Volunteer grant committees, composed of community members who are experienced in local issues, guide the grant process.

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