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Eye on future – Combining grant programs

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By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is taking a partial break so it can look ahead.

To work out details on streamlining operations and expanding services to donors, the foundation has suspended part of its fall grants cycle. The next deadline for submitting applications for discretionary grants will be in January, rather than Oct. 1.

The foundation aims to combine a number of discretionary grantmaking programs that have had different deadlines and screening procedures.

All told, those programs account for about $1 million of the $6 million in grants that the $70 million-asset foundation makes each year.

The suspension in grantmaking will not affect donor-advised funds or a number of special programs, including youth philanthropy, neighborhood grants or the foundation’s future fund for young donors.

And the foundation will consider emergency grants requests on a case-by-case basis.

“We want to improve and expand philanthropic services as we streamline internal grant procedures,” says Tara Sandercock, the foundation’s vice president for programs.

While details still have to be worked out, expanding services to donors could involve looking for ways to better connect them with the needs of local charities.

“We know there are many grant proposals we get that we couldn’t fund fully through our discretionary grants program, but there may be others who might want to partner with us on that,” says Sandercock. “We’re going to be looking at ways to share information on those grant opportunities.”

In addition to revamping its internal procedures, the foundation also will increase its focus on education.

Education is one of five main areas – also including civic involvement, health and human services, youth services and arts and culture — in which the foundation focuses its grants.

The foundation’s board decided at a retreat in February to place even more emphasis on education, Sandercock says.

“So people can look to us for more in that regard in coming years,” she says.

An initial effort will be to boost community-based programs for elementary school students and their families.

Thanks to a $72,000 planning grant from the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds, the foundation is working with community groups to develop ideas for out-of-school programs for youngsters six to 10 years old.

The planning will serve as the basis for a request that the foundation will submit this fall to Wallace-Reader’s Digest for an even larger grant to strengthen out-of-school programs.

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