Arizona Community Foundation: Arizona Grants

OVERVIEW: Not only does the Arizona Community Foundation manage more than 1,400 charitable funds, but it also engages in discretionary grantmaking in five common priority areas. The foundation has over $650 million in assets and awards around $35 million in grants each year.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, arts & culture, community development, environmental sustainability, health innovations

IP TAKE: Last year, health issues took top priority for Arizona Community Foundation grantmaking, and 40 percent of discretionary grants went toward healthcare innovations, emerging health research, and community health issues. Your next best bet is an education grant, but keep in mind ACF likes to fund school district reform, early literacy, and STEM education programs.

PROFILE: With six offices across the state of Arizona, the Arizona Community Foundation has over $650 million in assets across over 1,400 funds. Since it was established in 1978, ACF has awarded more than half a billion dollars in grants—mostly in Arizona but nationwide as well.

ACF manages over 1,400 charitable funds and works with individual donors to achieve philanthropic goals. In addition to harnessing the generosity of thousands of Arizona philanthropists, ACF engages in grantmaking and leveraging investments for strategic impact. Grantmaking is focused on five priority areas: education, arts & culture, community development, environmental sustainability, and health innovations. The foundation awards approximately $35 million each year, spread across 2,500 community organizations and overseen by a volunteer investment committee comprised of nationally recognized financial experts.

Not only does ACF provide support to nonprofit organizations, but also to government agencies and educational institutions. General operating support, program support, and capacity building support are all common types of grants. Both discretionary and advised grants are awarded.

ACF education funding is provided through the Arizona Venture Fund for Quality Education, private school tuition tax credit giving, and scholarships. The Venture Fund has assets of nearly $90 million and provides grants for pre-kindergarten all the way up to postsecondary degree completion. Within this program, the focus is on school district reform, STEM education, early literacy, entrepreneurship in education, advocacy, and charter school expansion loans. The School Tuition Organization provides scholarships to low-income, disabled and foster care students across Arizona to attend tuition-bearing private schools.

ACF’s arts grantmaking has been mostly through the Arizona Cultural Data Project, a web-based data collection tool for arts and cultural organizations to help them be more effective. Cultural Data Projects were first launched in Pennsylvania and operated by the Pew Charitable Trusts, but now 14 states have adopted these data collection practices.

Under the Community Improvement and Community Development umbrella, ACF supports affordable housing, family sustainability, and veteran’s causes. Unlike some charitable funds, ACF provides zero-interest loans to nonprofit housing developments for the pre-development phase of affordable housing projects. The loans range from $25,000 to $75,000 per project and have leveraged about $300 million in housing for 1,500 units. The foundation also puts a priority on financial literacy programs in economically challenged communities and manages a couple veterans-oriented funds for former service members who live in Cochise County and Yuma.

Managing Arizona’s natural resources is another key point for the foundation, and ACF is currently focused on the Cochise Water Project and working with the Colorado Plateau Foundation. In terms of health funding, the foundation awarded a three-year $150,000 grant to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center for several new programs at the Valley Fever Center in Phoenix.

ACF processed over 3,500 grant applications in a recent year, and current grant opportunities can be viewed on the foundation website. To apply for a grant, you’ll need to sign up for an account on the ACF Online Grant Portal. In a recent year, approximately 40 percent of ACF discretionary grants went toward health innovations, with 29 percent going to education causes, and four-to-eight percent going toward the other priority areas. Nonprofits are encouraged to attend workshops and events hosted by ACF, which are listed on the events page.

General questions about the grantmaking process can be directed to the philanthropic services team, which is made up of Lynn Umphres for non-competitive grants and Ashley Anderson for competitive grants.


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