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. Funding priorities include 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 grant seekers should reach out to 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 grantmaking exceeding $1 billion. It seeks to improve the “community through philanthropy.” The community funder, established in 1969, manages around 1,000 charitable funds and over $470 million in assets. It makes discretionary grants throughout western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. In a recent year, it made $143.4 million in grants to 1,848 nonprofits.

About half of recent CFGM grantmaking supports 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 grantmaking for the foreseeable future.

After education, most grants support human service causes, followed by the arts and the environment. Some grants continue to support religion, community development, and health, but in lower amounts and frequency. Grant seekers can find a list of recent grants on the funder’s grantmaking page.

CFGM has also supported nonprofit capacity building efforts in the Memphis area. The funder makes between $5,500 and $40,000 in grants to efforts like evaluating core programs, staff and board training, improving technology systems, and mergers between organizations. Grant seekers should 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.

The foundatin encourages nonprofits in the CFGM’s service area 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 the best point of contact for nonprofit capacity grants.

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


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)