Bank of America Charitable Foundation: Grants for Public Health

OVERVIEW: The Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the international bank, seeks to “address critical issues facing our neighborhoods and communities,” including the support of healthy food access in cities and states where the bank does business.

IP TAKE: The Bank of America Charitable Foundation's public health focus lasers in on food as a "basic need." But it's a fairly sophisticated take a on a basic need, not ignoring regional food banks but also including support of access to locally grown healthy foods—and support of the agricultural institutions that grow it.

PROFILE: “High-impact” and “visionary” are two terms the Bank of America Charitable Foundation uses to describe the organizations that earn its support. In the realm of public health, that boils down to support of food access programs ranging from food banks that distribute food to agricultural organizations that grow it.

The commonality is eligible geography: the foundation has its sights on giving back on a specific list of cities and states (where its banks have a presence). It’s an extensive list that currently covers 34 states plus Washington, D.C., but your food program should fit into that map.

Your program should also fit into the aims declared by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation's basic needs priority focus area, which umbrella's the foundation's food support. As a framework for this giving, the foundation states:

More than 48 million people are living in poverty in the U.S. Many low-to-moderate (LMI) income individuals continue to struggle to provide basic necessities for their families and face complex financial challenges - such as how to increase their income and reduce expenses or being forced to choose between buying food or paying for housing or medical care. So we’re focused on addressing these basic needs, including hunger, homelessness, and lack of access to benefit resources. We help nonprofit partners that assist individuals and families at their immediate point of need, as well as organizations that deliver longer-term solutions such as access to financial education and coaching. We understand that individuals and families living on the margins have many needs and we support integrated services that help them overcome barriers, develop better money habits and become financially secure.

Within its basic needs focus area, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation declares three sub-priorities. "Hunger relief" is naturally where food access comes in, with two bullet-points: "Feeding the hungry" and "Food access." They might read to you as synonymous, so let's break down the foundation's definitions of each.

  • "Feeding the hungry" means support of food banks, and in-school and after-school "feeding and nutrition programs" for low-income students.

  • "Food access" means "hunger relief in food deserts, green and fresh foods, and agricultural sustainability."

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation's definition of "food access" particular opens up interesting avenues for program support, and expands into possibilities that correlate with the foundation's holistic approach to individual uplift—and community betterment. Other priority focus areas include great attention to housing access, community revitalization, small business development, financial literacy, and workforce development. All of these areas ebb and flow with food access, so it can be useful to keep the foundation’s holistic goals in mind while presenting your program.

Applications are online and open to all, currently with an August deadline.


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