Foundation grantmaking focuses on four major program areas.
These programs touch upon a number of major issues.
Each grantmaking program also works within clearly stated geographic parameters or regions.
For general information and resources about philanthropy,
visit our Philanthropy Resources page.
Mott congratulates the Cleveland Foundation on its 100th anniversary
Local Philanthropy of Federal Importance: Community Foundations in Russia
Global Status Report on Community Foundations - 2012 Update
National Civic Review, Special Issue: Philanthropy and Resident Engagement: The Promise for Democracy
A Different Kind of Wealth: Mapping a Baseline of African Community Foundations
Community foundations are non-profit organizations that use local resources to meet local needs. For more than three decades, the Mott Foundation has supported developing and strengthening community foundations as local leaders of positive change. Today, Mott supports the field domestically and abroad. This work is funded through the Foundation’s Civil Society program.
The Cluj Community Foundation is one of a dozen such organizations located throughout Romania. It is recognized as a local leader that engages residents to raise funds that support a variety of community causes that improve lives and Cluj society overall. The video is in English with Romanian subtitles.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s most recent annual report, Community Foundations: Rooted Locally. Growing Globally., celebrates the 100th anniversary of the community foundation movement — an American contribution to local philanthropy — as well as the Foundation’s long-standing commitment to the growth and vitality of the field.
The publication was timed for release as the field began a year-long commemoration in 2014 of the phenomenal spread of the concept. From a single community foundation begun in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914, the field has mushroomed to 1,750 today, with these local philanthropic institutions existing on every continent except Antarctica and in more than 50 countries.
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In 1989, Penny Johnstone embarked on her first across-the-pond adventure — traveling from Bristol, England, to San Diego, California — to learn more about the community foundation concept so she could promote it. As director of the Greater Bristol Trust, one of fewer than a dozen community foundations in the U.K. at the time, Johnstone was determined to know how to operate a publicly owned, place-based grantmaking institution that collected local funds to meet immediate needs while simultaneously growing a pot of money to address future challenges. It was a new concept that wasn’t easily explained or understood, yet it carried great potential, she said.
“What appealed to me was the community aspect of funding,” Johnstone said. “Community foundations were not just about giving handouts to local organizations but actually asking them, ‘What do you see as the need, and how can we help you address it?’ We were inviting others into our discussions about giving.”
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The Cultivating Community Engagement project has the following objectives: (1) uncover and document practices among community foundations that promote and support stronger citizen engagement in shaping the community’s future; (2) test the identified practices through a peer learning network in which network participants adopt and adapt the new practices; and (3) refine and disseminate recommendations on best practices and examples of effective community engagement to community foundation professionals. In its first phase, a 34-person panel oversaw and contributed to the development of a case statement and key practices for resident engagement by community foundations. In the second phase, the panel has been testing the findings through a peer learning network. A grant increase will allow CFLeads to synthesize, publish, and broadly disseminate the results throughout the community foundation field. CFLeads is a national learning cooperative that advocates for and advances the practice of community leadership among community foundations.
The program goal is to strengthen community foundations globally. To this end, the Global Fund for Community Foundations will manage a small-grants and capacity-building program focusing on community foundations and their support organizations in developing and transitioning countries around the world. Through this program, the grantee has provided grants to 35 community foundations from 24 countries and organized four international meetings involving these grantees. In 2014, the grantee will continue to focus on community foundations involved in youth civic engagement and the environment. Program activities will include providing small grants to individual community foundations, organizing peer learning events, creating learning groups of grantees, and documenting grantees’ activities and learning. Registered as an independent organization in late 2009, the Global Fund for Community Foundations is a global, grassroots grantmaker seeking to promote community foundations and other local philanthropic institutions in the Global South and in the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe.
The purpose of the Supporting Youth Philanthropy in Communities project is to initiate a process whereby young people and community foundations and other community philanthropy organizations from around the world can be continuously learning from each other on how best to encourage and support youth philanthropy. This will involve creating an online discussion space, hosting an international gathering of youth community philanthropy leaders to explore existing initiatives and discuss possible new ideas and approaches in youth community philanthropy, and broadly disseminating the results through a publication. Of the 46 anticipated participants, 22 will be from outside of North America. In addition to the publication, results will be presented at sessions at the fall Council on Foundations community foundation centennial and Council of Michigan Foundations conferences. The Council of Michigan Foundations is a membership association of more than 300 foundations and corporations making grants for charitable purposes.
The Mott Foundation created a multi-part series examining the field’s growth and development. The series reports on what is occurring and how the field is expanding globally. It also highlights the work of grantees in Mott's key funding regions.
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