Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

OVERVIEW: CFMT funds education, the environment, the arts, health and social services in 40 counties in Middle Tennessee and three counties in Southern Kentucky. Grant applications are accepted annually.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, the environment, the arts, health, social services, employment and training, housing, animal welfare and economic and community development

IP TAKE: Although based in Nashville, this community funder supports a large area and lots of small communities. It is open to nearly any nonprofit need in the region.

PROFILE: The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and supports a 43-county region. It seeks to work “with people who have great hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals.” The foundation was created in 1991 by civic leaders, and today it serves 40 counties in Tennessee and three in Southern Kentucky. The rest of the counties in the state are served by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, and the East Tennessee Foundation. CFMT oversees at least 1,228 funds and granted more than $796 million in its first 25 years.

CFMT has a wide range of interests. The discretionary grant application period typically opens in the summer. Past application deadlines have been August 1. Broad funding interests are education, the environment, the arts, health and social services. Other interests are employment and training, housing, animal welfare and economic and community development. These grants support new programs, emerging needs, and innovative services for community benefit. It prioritizes unmet needs and long-term solutions.

A total of 328 nonprofits in 31 of the 40 Tennessee counties served received discretionary grants in a recent year. A list of recent grant recipients is here. CFMT also has nine affiliate foundations that support targeted geographic areas:

  • Community Foundation of Rutherford County

  • Cheatham County Community Foundation

  • Community Foundation of Wilson County

  • Cumberland Plateau Community Foundation

  • Community Foundation of Clarksville/Montgomery County

  • Goodlettsville Area Community Foundation

  • Tullahoma Community Foundation

  • Community Foundation for Dickson County

  • Community Foundation of Christian, Todd and Trigg Counties

CFMT recently awarded grants to groups supporting elderly adults through a one-time Serving Tennessee’s Seniors grant opportunity. Chancery Court provided funding and it was administered by CFMT through the settlement of a Tennessee attorney’s lawsuit. In addition to local and regional causes, CFMT funds have also supported disaster relief and for mass shooting victims in other parts of the country. Employee assistance through Corporate Care Funds is provided for situations of natural disasters, life-threatening illnesses and injuries, death and other catastrophic circumstances.

In recent years, the funder has granted around $50 million to nonprofit organizations annually. It has also been offering over 100 scholarships per year. Current financial data is here.

General questions can be directed to the staff at 888-540-5200 or There are over 30 staff members at CFMT, which is led by President Ellen Lehman. The mailing address is 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Suite 400, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. Grant seekers can keep up with the foundation and its grantees by following the Stories page. Events, such as awards luncheons, benefit concerts, and fashion week fundraisers, are posted on the website too.


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