Something that we always find interesting when following community foundation news is how new funds are formed, how long they last, and how they fit into what a community funder is already doing. One example comes from Erie, Pennsylvania, where the Northwestern PA Food Council recently dissolved and its board members voted to distribute the organization’s remaining assets through the Erie Community Foundation (ECF).

This community foundation traces its history back to 1935 and currently has a collection of over 800 locally created endowment funds. All of these charitable endowments operate under the administration of a single public charity, and now the community funder has a little more to work with. The Northwestern PA Food Council established two funds to be administered by ECF, one for grants and one for scholarships. Interestingly, few of the new recipients had much to do with the local food supply.

Eleven local nonprofits each received $30,000 from the now-defunct food council, and the new grantees include the Erie Zoo, Inner-City Neighborhood Art House, Liberty House at Erie United Methodist Alliance, Shriner’s Hospital, and the Erie Downtown Partnership. Other grants went to the Barber National Institute, Eagles Nest Leadership Corporation, Emmaus Ministries, Erie Dawn, the Refuge, and Sisters of St. Joseph. Clearly, the new grantees are working in a wide variety of fields ,and they all received these grants as one-time gifts with no future promise of ongoing support.

The second part of the food council’s commitment was a scholarship program for Erie County high school students. Here’s where the organization’s background game into play because it is giving preference to students in the food industry. For scholarships administered through the Erie Community Foundation, the council indicated that it primarily wants to support grocery industry employees looking to further their education and attend a local college.

However, Erie-based nonprofits and students should not expect to rely upon the Northwestern PA Food Council for future funding. The group had $530,000 of assets its remaining, and it spent all of that on this one round of grants and scholarships. But of course, this is just one pair of funds held at ECF, and there are many others that are worth familiarizing yourself with for potential grants in Erie County.

ECF has well-established grant guidelines that can be accessed on the foundation website and describe what it takes to get a “helping today grant,” “shaping tomorrow grant,” Community Fund Drive grant, or urgent grant. The steadiest and most accessible grant program focuses on the “helping today grants,” which cover things capital needs, outreach capacity, vehicle purchases, program expansions, policy, advocacy, technology, and planning. The next application deadline for these grants, which are up to $30,000 each, is October 18.

Learn more about ECF’s community giving and also other foundations that give locally in the region by browsing IP’s Mid-Atlantic States Funding Guide.

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