Inside the East Tennessee Foundation’s New Funding Opportunity & Latest Grants

The East Tennessee Foundation is home to hundreds of charitable funds and also field-of-interest funds that are part of its competitive grantmaking process. This community funder has been busy lately expanding its grantmaking in new ways and reaching new groups with a little help from its corporate donors.

Getting support in Blount County, Tennessee may be getting a little easier thanks to a new fund agreement signed off on by ETF’s advisory board. The foundation approved the creation of a new affiliate fund that will be paid for by Blount County donors and support Blount County organizations.

Although EFT will hold and manage the new Blount County fund, a local advisory committee in the county will be the one making disbursement decisions. Trudy Hughes, EFT’s director of regional advancement shared that the foundation has given over $5.4 million to groups and individuals for scholarships in Blount County since 1992.

“For several years, there’s been a core group of Blount County citizens who wanted to have the affiliate fund as yet another way for persons to support philanthropy in Blount County,” Hughes told The Daily Times. “The difference is that it is an endowed fund so that persons who are interested in giving a gift that is going to last forever really are interested in these endowed funds.”

To jump-start this new Blount County fund, EFT has agreed to match donations to it up to $5,000.

EFT is into affiliate funds, like this one, in a big way. In fact, it has approved affiliate funds in 20 of the 25 Tennessee counties it serves, so there’s only five more to go. It looks like Sevier County and Loudon County may be next. It’s all part of an effort to bring philanthropy closer to the people that its serving to increase accountability, visibility, and relevance. Funds like this also help streamline the donation process by connecting potential donors and nonprofits within individual counties that otherwise may have never known about each other.

Sharon Hannum, who’s on the advisory committee, shared the following statement:

There are so many different committees or organizations already that are doing great things. There are a lot of people that would love to be able to donate to some of these organizations. Some of them are more known than others, so if there is a community organization or an affiliate fund that makes a list then of all of the endeavors that are going on in Blount County, it gives potential donors an opportunity to be able put their dollars and get the best bang for their buck.

In other news, EFT announced a new set of grants that are part of one of its corporate donor advised funds, the CNS Y-12 Community Investment Fund. The funder honored new grantees with 30 grants totaling $180,000 to nonprofits in 10 East Tennessee counties at a reception in early May. The new grantees included Anderson County High School, Mid-East Community Action Agency, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Clinch Valley, CASA Monroe, and CASA of the Tennessee Heartland.

CNS is the contractor at a national security complex in Oak Ridge and established funds at EFT as part of their commitment to the host community. It’s important to remember that each fund at this community foundation has its own deadlines and guidelines. Contact Jan Elston at to get on ETF’s mass mailing list to keep track of new opportunities.

To learn more about this funder’s local giving, check out IP’s full profile, East Tennessee Foundation: Southeast/Tennessee Grants.