Community foundations tend to be closely attuned to local needs and the work of local nonprofits. But what these foundations often to lack are the monetary assets to turn those insights into substantial, high-impact grants.

That’s why partnerships between community foundations with limited resources and locally-focused private foundations can be so fruitful. A good example is a recent collaboration between the Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF) and the Burke Foundation to award $600,000 in new grants to 16 local nonprofits.

These new PACF/Burke partnership grants were between $10,000 and $50,000 each and addressed a wide variety of pressing community issues. They included arts education, behavioral health, career development, economic development, food insecurity, nonprofit capacity building, homelessness and youth development.

As a general rule, PACF typically focuses its attention on children, community and economic development, and the needs of women and girls. Meanwhile, Burke is all about early childhood education initiatives at the local level. But when the two organizations got together to look at the most crucial needs in New Jersey, they broadened their standard approaches and considered additional types of requests. Recent grantees are based in the towns of Ewing, Hamilton, Hightstown, Lawrenceville, Princeton, Trenton and Bordentown.

In this most recent round of giving, the funders received 64 grant requests and were only able to provide 16 grants. That speaks to the need for these types of partnerships in the region, and perhaps to broad local demand for collaborative grant efforts. It should be noted that this is not the Burke Foundation’s only collaborative effort, as it is also part of the New Jersey Funders’ ACEs Collaborative with the Nicholson Foundation, the Turrell Fund and the Department of Children and Families to benefit New Jersey’s most vulnerable children.

A final note about the PACF/Burke partnership is that it’s dedicated to operating grants and capacity building. The recent $600,000 in grants combines program support in local New Jersey communities with operating support to help those nonprofits sustain and grow. That’s a good model to consider as new local philanthropic collaborations are established. However, it’s not yet clear whether PACF and Burke will engage in further collaboration during future grant cycles.

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