OVERVIEW: With over a billion dollars under its control, the Communities Foundation of Texas ranks as one of the biggest foundations in Texas. Originally known as the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund, this foundation has three grantmaking programs, and unsolicited letters of inquiry are accepted from nonprofits working in eight issue areas. To be eligible for a Giving Guide grant, at least 50 percent of the population served must be residents of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Collin, or Rockwall counties.
FUNDING AREAS: Economic security, youth, medical & scientific research, public safety, education, animals, arts, elderly, environment, healthy, social services
IP TAKE: Most of CFT’s grants are made through donor funds, but some are made with discretionary funds as well. Although CFT awards grants in all of the above funding areas, it has special funding available for the following causes: financial education for widows, education and training of student nurses, medical research related to cancer or heart disease, scholarships for students attending fundamental theology schools, and scholarships for blind individuals.
PROFILE: Since 1953, the Communities Foundation of Texas has partnered with businesses, families, and local donors to make charitable contributions in Texas. Founded by a group of prominent business and civic leaders, it was originally established as the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund. Today, CFT makes grants to support community issues in North Texas and through its donors, throughout the rest of the world too.
In a recent year, this funder distributed at least $101 million, claimed $1.2 billion in total assets, and manages over 950 philanthropic funds. CFT ranks No. 7 in assets among all foundations in Texas. Across Texas and the Southwest, the foundation ranks at the very top among all public foundations.
CFT is the force behind North Texas Giving Day, the Giving Guide, Educate Texas, Entrepreneurs for North Texas, and the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation. There are three areas that nonprofits can apply for a grant: Community Impact Grants, Caruth Foundation grants, and LOI/Giving Guide.
Community Impact Grantmaking is focused on helping low-income families find economic security and at-risk middle school youth. These grants come from unrestricted funds and a pool of $2 million across these two focus areas.
CFT manages grantmaking for the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation, which focuses on complex, multi-year grants related to medical and scientific research, public safety, and education. These tend to be huge multi-million dollar grants and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
LOI/Giving Guide is an open call for smaller, wide-breadth grants in eight focus areas: animals, art, education, elderly, environment, health, social services, and youth. Nonprofits are eligible to apply through CFT’s LOI process once a year—usually at the beginning of the calendar year. It’s important to note that CFT has special funding available for the following purposes:
- Financial education for widows
- Education and training of student nurses
- Medical research related to cancer or heart disease
- Scholarships for students attending fundamental theology schools
- Scholarships for blind individuals
The majority of CFT grants come from donor-advised funds. However, a limited number of requests submitted through the LOI process are also funded by CFT using the foundation's discretionary funds. In a recent fiscal year when the funder made $106 million in total grants, 30 percent of those went to education and 22 percent to health and scientific research. Meanwhile, 12 percent went to housing and human services, 10 percent to community improvement, nine percent to religion, six percent to arts & culture, 3 percent to youth & recreation, and eight percent to "other."
Most local nonprofits connect with CFT through the foundation’s letter of inquiry process. You can download the Common Grant application from the foundation website. It’s also a good idea to take CFT’s eligibility quiz to make sure the application is worth your time. To be eligible for a Giving Guide grant, at least 50 percent of the population served must be residents of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Collin, or Rockwall counties.
- John Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Educate Texas
- Sarah Cotton Nelson, Chief Philanthropy Officer
- Wende Burton, Community Philanthropy Director
- Monica Egert Smith, Senior Director Strategic Philanthropy