Black Belt Community Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports a 12-county region in Alabama in the areas of arts, community and economic development, education, and health and wellness.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts, community and economic development, education, health and wellness

IP TAKE: This is a great foundation to know for African American-led and African American-serving nonprofits in Alabama. Funding areas are broad, and each of the 12 counties typically see grants each year.

PROFILE: The Black Belt region stretches across the middle of the state, from Mississippi almost to Georgia. The region got its name from its dark, rich soil; it also has state's greatest number of African American residents. Based in Selma, Alabama, the Black Belt Community Foundation is committed to giving in this region.

The foundation was created by the merging of two efforts. One came from Dr. Carol P. Zippert, vice president of the Babcock Foundation board, co-publisher of the Greene County Democrat, and director of the Society of Folk Arts and Culture. The other was from David Wilson, vice president for University Outreach at Auburn University, who first pursued the concept of the foundation. It was officially created in December 2003. Since 2004, BBCF has granted over $3 million to nonprofits throughout the 12-county region.

Topics of interest are the arts, community and economic development, education, and health and wellness. The foundation revised its strategic plan in 2013 to focus on these topics for at least five years.

It typically awards community program and arts grants to over 100 nonprofits each year. Community grants go to about 40 organizations each year, typically of $500 to $3,000 each. It funds about 40 percent of the proposals it receives. The grants often to community economic development, education, environment, health and human services, and youth.

You must serve the following counties to be eligible for community grants: Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, and Wilcox. Questions about the program can be directed to Eddie Walker, field services representative, at 334-874-1126 or ewalker@blackbeltfound.org. Grant applications are usually made available to groups that attend one of the funder’s workshops; they're also on the funder’s homepage.

The Black Belt Arts Initiative is a partnership of three organizations: BBCF, the Black Belt Action Commission’s Culture and Youth Committee, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The application for this arts initiative can also be found on the homepage, along with recent foundation news.

On the foundation website events tab, you can learn about upcoming events, conferences, festivals, and fundraisers. General questions can be directed to the staff at 334-874-1126 or via online form.

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