With around $960 million in trust and endowment assets under management, the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) is one of the biggest grantmakers in the Southwest and always a key foundation to watch. ACF has been around since the late 1970s and is among the top 25 community foundations in America. It has been focusing much of its efforts on five strategic priorities lately.

Based upon ACF’s recent commitments, here are four trends that stand about the Phoenix-based funder’s giving.

1. Education is the Biggest Cause

A review of ACF’s second-quarter grants shows education clearly as the top-funded category. A total of $6.4 million was awarded in this quarter for education grants and scholarships. This is compared to $3.9 million total for health, $2.1 million total for community improvement and development, $1 million for arts and culture, and $475,422 for environment and sustainability. However, it should be noted that college scholarships accounted for $3.5 million of that $6.4 million total commitment to education, benefitting 1,213 individual students pursuing higher education.  

2. Support for Construction Projects

Another interest notable in ACF’s recent giving is its commitment to local construction projects. ACF primarily supports nonprofit building construction through its Community Impact Loan Fund—the foundation recently committed an additional $7 million in loans to four organizations. These grants ranged from $550,000 to $4 million and are helping build an adult daycare center, a behavioral health center, a botanical garden restaurant and a pet rescue facility.

3. A Growing Number of Funds

ACF is a large grantmaking entity, and it is continually growing even larger. This community foundation is home to over 1,700 funds, a number that has been rising annually. In addition to the competitive grant cycles, ACF awards donor-advised grants and discretionary grants from its field-of-interest funds and funds for the common good. For discretionary grants, proposals are solicited from nonprofits within specific fields and in broad focus areas. Some recently highlighted ACF donors include the Robert Cialdini and Bobette Gorden Family Foundation, which is supporting a Phoenix Zoo program for low-income children through ACF, and a multi-funder collaborative effort that is funding the NALEO Educational Fund’s Census 2020 work.

4. The Power of Regional Affiliates

As with so many community foundations across the country, some of the best resources for nonprofits are with the regional affiliates. Regional affiliate assets account for about 12 percent of ACF’s total assets and tend to be more in-tune with local needs than any other entity. Affiliates are located in Cochise, Flagstaff, the Gila Valley, Sedona, Yavapai County, and Yuma. Local leaders serve in each of these regional offices to ensure that ACF grants reach all of Arizona’s 15 counties.

Although this particular ACF grant cycle has passed, this funder awards grants throughout the year, with several competitive application processes. Current grant opportunities, including several from the Arizona Horse Lover’s Foundation and the Summer Youth Program, are listed on the foundation website, with links to the relevant online application forms.

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