Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

OVERVIEW: This is the largest funder in the region that awards grants in western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. Top areas of interest are education, human services, and nonprofit capacity building.

FUNDING AREAS: K-12 education, early childhood education, human services, arts, environment, nonprofit capacity building

IP TAKE: Pitch a local K-12 or early education idea for the best results with this funder. But reach out the grants staff first before submitting anything to the foundation.

PROFILE: The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis (CFGM) has emerged as the largest grantmaker in the Memphis area, with community giving exceeding $1 billion. The community funder, established in 1969, manages around 1,000 charitable funds and over $450 million in assets. Discretionary grants are awarded throughout western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. In a recent year, it gave $143.4 million to 1,848 nonprofits.

About half of recent CFGM grantmaking has gone towards education. CFGM education funding has risen in recent years, and funders throughout the region continue to report that education is their top concern. Quality K-12 public education and early childhood education are expected to remain fixtures in CFGM’s giving for the foreseeable future.

After education, most grants have been going to human service causes lately, followed by the arts and the environment. Some grants continue to go towards religion, community development, and health, but in lower amounts and frequency. A list of grants by year can be viewed on the funder’s grantmaking page.

CFGM has also given substantially to nonprofit capacity building efforts in the Memphis area. The funder awards grants between $5,500 and $40,000 to efforts like evaluating core programs, staff and board training, improving technology systems, and mergers between organizations. Just keep in mind that capacity building grantees are required to raise matching funds in response to the CFGM grant. Past nonprofit capacity building grantees can be viewed here.

In recent years, CFGM has put substantial work into public-private partnerships. As a community funder, it does this by directing private money towards projects through direct giving and grant writing.

The foundation also offers nonprofit organizations in the Mid-South an opportunity to invest alongside the foundation’s other assets in its diversified family of investment pools. Project funds are established for short-term use and collaborative efforts, and over 70 nonprofits have created funds with CFGM. Nonprofits can also use the foundation’s community room in the heart of Midtown at no charge.

Nonprofits in the CFGM’s service area are encouraged to email or call Ashely Harper director of grants & initiatives to discuss the details of working together. Harper’s contact information is and 901-722-0022. The director of community information, Mia Madison, is your best point of contact for nonprofit capacity grants.

You can keep up with what the foundation is doing in its newsroom and events page.


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