Nonprofits Urged Define Their Fundraising Needs Before Searching for Grants

Permission granted! That’s the time you’ve waited for, when the project you conceived has been approved by the Board of Directors and you can finally formulate a fundraising plan to raise the funds needed to make your idea a success.

Develop a plan to find the money you need to bring your concept to life. 

 A written account of your project’s demands will make your search for funding that much easier and can be used as a resource when the time comes to complete the grant application or start a crowdfunding campaign. Every plan should include:

  • Background – Document that your organization is financially stable, well-respected, managed properly and worthy of receiving external funds;
  • Mission – Articulate “why” your organization exists;
  • Needs – Gather both facts and stories to support the requisites of your project and the needs of the target population;
  • Timeline – Schedule of events or activities that will be conducted once the project is funded;
  • Evaluation – Plans to assess the project and tools to measure its impact;
  • Budget — Materials, supplies, and personnel required to achieve project goals;
  • Costs – An estimate of the total amount of money needed to economically complete the project.

Once you have gathered this information, you can begin to identify relevant grants and their funding sources. is a popular online resource that matches nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals to funding opportunities from local, state and federal agencies, corporations, foundations and other nonprofits. The process is simple. Sign up on GrantWatch and begin to search for funds.

Agencies, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with acquiring grants for their proposed programs and projects can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.


About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

When Police Require Top Dogs, Steelers Quarterback Funds K-9 Units Through Foundation Grants

Wearing a protective covering over his arm, JuJu Smith-Schuster wasn’t dodging defenders like he normally does on Sunday afternoons during the National Football League regular season. The wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers was, instead, warding off a police dog at a Sunday afternoon charity softball game in Findlay, Ohio.

The stunt, watched by an estimated 2,000 fans, was part of an event that raised money for Findlay High School athletics and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Roethlisberger is the Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Pittsburg Steelers. His foundation is known for its work with K-9 service dog units.

Grants to USA Police and Fire Departments in Multiple States to Support their K-9 Units 

Grant Deadline: 08/15/18

Roethlisberger, who attended Miami of Ohio University before embarking on an All-Pro career with the Steelers, said he enjoys giving back to the community. Over the years, the Roethlisberger Foundation has awarded some $2 million in grants to police and fire departments across the United States.

Despite the rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Roethlisberger decided to give back through grants to both the Lorain Police Department and the Medina County Sheriff’s Office. Lorain police will use the grant funds to update K-9 training equipment and install a shelter to hold stray dogs found in the community until an owner can be reached.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said foundations that support safety initiatives are the secret weapons of law enforcement. Thousands of dollars in grants from foundations and government agencies are posted on GrantWatch. These funding sources enable communities to hire new police offers, test new strategies and obtain technology to improve their response to crimes as well as improve public safety through the investigation of illegal drug activities.

Fort Mitchell Chief of Police Col. Andrew J. Schierberg said his grant helps a smaller department, like his in Kentucky, support K-9 units, while in Avon, Ind., the Roethlisberger Foundation will fund the purchase of another police dog to strengthen the interdiction of illegal drugs, such as heroin and dangerous opioids. Foundation grants have also funded new ballistic vests to keep K-9 partners safe when they protect and serve.

Sharpsburg Mayor Matt Rudzki swore in the newest member of the borough police department last month. K-9 Officer Jango is already busy working with Officer Jeff Hussar, who said he has fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming the department’s K-9 officer’s handler. A grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation helped bring in Jango, the vehicle that transports him and his training at Shallow Creek Kennels.

Local law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with acquiring support to reduce crime can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch


After Failed Grant Request, County Struggles to Support Victims of Violent Crimes

After more than 20 years of support, victims' rights in Kane County are struggling to find a leg to stand on. That’s because the local state attorney’s office was denied a grant request to fund three full-time advocates that would have provided services for victims of violent crimes.

But, even though the most recent grant request for $104,368 was denied, the Kane County State Attorney Joseph McMahon will not have to put public safety on the back burner. Several local agencies have stepped up to provide human resources and the power to keep the Victims' Rights Unit functioning until the attorney’s office can get the Illinois Justice Information Authority to reevaluate their grant proposal.

The state attorney’s office had always counted on a grant from ICJIA, which divvies up funds under the federal Victims of Crime Act administered through the U.S. Department of Justice. Over the course of two decades, the victim’s crime unit and its members had been recognized by state lawmakers for their service.

Until the grant funding is squared away, McMahon has assigned some responsibilities of the unit to prosecutors and support staff as well as advocates from police departments and other divisions in the county, such as the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, the Community Crisis Center and Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter.

County governments in Illinois rely on different methods to fund their services for victims of violent crimes, domestic abuse and child neglect, and other programs. Some divisions apply for grants. Others draw money from the county's general fund. McMahon said his office was notified in December that the grant application for fiscal year 2018 had been rejected and, as a result, the matching contribution of $59,982 from Kane County as well.

Rejected grant proposals are more common than they are rare. Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said that many organizations, in their haste to secure funding, fail to follow instructions outlined in the request for proposals. Most funding sources provide specific instructions for presenting and submitting proposals. Grant applications that do not adhere to guidelines are typically the first to fall by the wayside. They are not even read – they are placed in the virtual trash bin.

"Another grave error in judgment (which may not specifically apply here) is when agencies become complacent and rely solely on one avenue of funding," said Hikind. "This places the agency staff and their constituents in constant and immediate jeopardy. Things change and an agency should never allow themselves to feel comfortable. Applications for grants that will provide funds for programs that assist victims of crime and abuse can be identified on GrantWatch."

Because an explanation is rarely communicated, the first step after a request has been denied should be to get on the phone and follow-up with an email to ask why. That’s why establishing a relationship – either over the phone or in a site visit — during the application process is a critical to securing funds at present or in the future.

Hikind invites the Kane County State Attorney to call her for assistance to create a crowdfunding campaign until McMahon's office can complete the grant application process and receive funding. was estblished to enable the community to step up-to-the-plate and chip in small amounts of money to keep needed programs operating.

McMahon said his office has already filed an appeal and is in the process of writing letters to each state lawmaker representing Kane county for assistance in identifying any new funds that could be targeted for the victims' unit. In the meantime, Kane County, the fifth largest in Illinois and home to 15 homicides last year, faces the reality of providing state-mandated services without grant funding.

Nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants that provide social services including support for victims of violent crimes and domestic abuse can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for


As Gun Violence Cast Pall Over America, Millions in Grants Targeted for School Safety

Frantic students were running in every direction. Helicopters, ambulances and police cars surrounded the scene while a confused parent confronted a television reporter.

“My daughter,” she said. “Where’s my daughter.”

In the wake of the latest school shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 dead, plenty of questions were asked, not the least of which of educators, law enforcement officials and policymakers in Texas and their counterparts across the country who were left to propose how they planned to ensure school safety.

Many of the answers convey a need for bulletproof windows, panic buttons and armed shelters in classrooms; others call for the state police or sheriff’s departments to provide security officers to patrol schools. As school officials and local law enforcement authorities nationwide debate each pitch, they all recognize one salient point – all or any these measures will take money.

That’s why news last week that the federal government was awarding the Sant Fe Independent School District a $1 million grant to provide “essential services” was of some comfort to local educators, law enforcement authorities and a concerned community still recovering from the deadly May 18 shooting at the high school.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said since the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, some states have introduced legislature to provide funds.  School districts have also become more pro-active in looking for grants for security improvements. From Massachusetts to Wyoming, local public schools and districts, law enforcement, businesses and nonprofits can find identify funds on GrantWatch that promote safety, improve communications, increase preparedness and generally enhance the ability of all stakeholders to respond to a crisis. 

Grants to USA Agencies and Tribes for Programs to Reduce Violent Crime in Schools

Grants to USA LEAs and IHEs to Support School Communities Following Violent and Traumatic Events

The announcement of new grants by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos comes on the heels of Gov. Greg Abbot’s plan to offer $120 million in funding to help strengthen school security across Texas.

Programs of this kind to prevent violence and keep students protected have already been established in Wisconsin, where the state’s first school safety grant was awarded to Kenosha Unified School District, last week. The $100 million grant will enable district leaders to create a physical environment conducive to preventing violence by providing mental health training, blue flashing lights and gunshot detectors in school buildings.

Currently, anyone who attempts to enter a Kenosha school building must first get “buzzed” in. Once they're inside, they're seen on surveillance cameras. By the time school reopens in the fall, the grant will have provided funds to install a shatter-proof film to cover the glass doors at every entrance. The school safety grant, however, does not allow the district to add more security officers, which is viewed as a recurring cost.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who signed the decree, said hundreds more school safety grants will soon follow. More than 450 Wisconsin schools have submitted proposals to the School Safety Initiative Grant program, which awards each applicant up to $20,000 for added security measures.

The Gresham School District, which applied for a grant, is hoping to see some of that money to replace front doors with shatterproof glass, and install a camera, buzzer system and a fob lock system that will require teachers to swipe a card before entering buildings. School budgets are expected to cover the remaining costs of the district's estimated $130,000 safety plan.

The School Safety Initiative was launched by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shortly after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 14 students and three staff members. So far, in 2018 alone, the United States has witnessed 23 school shootings in which someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than one shooting a week.

Nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants to curb school violence and support homeland and national security can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at Sign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch


Back from Afghanistan, American Army Veterans Find Spice of Life in Small Business

After completing combat tours in war-torn Afghanistan, a couple of American army officers realized they had some unfinished matters of service to address when they returned home. The Chicago-based entrepreneurs meant business.

Rumi Spice, launched in 2014, is the brainchild of army veterans and co-founders Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz and Emily Miller who wanted to empower rural Afghan farmers by working directly with them to import high-quality saffron to homes, stores and restaurants in the United States. Out of that idea, Rumi Spice has been able to generate sales — last year of more than $1 million — while introducing an alternative to opium for Afghans to farm.

Of course, appearing on an episode of the television show “Shark Tank” last year, when the owners of Rumi Spice received a $250,000 investment offer from Mark Cuban, and winning the grand prize of $25,000 in the FeDex Small Business Grant Contest, hasn’t hurt business, either.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch,com, said small business grants like the FeDex grant award are more beneficial to startups because, unlike loans, they don’t have to be repaid. While government grants provide a large portion of money to incubate small businesses in their early growing stages, they are not the sole nest egg for up-and-coming startups to covet., the small business service of GrantWatch, lists government grants, corporation grants and foundation grants and funding opportunities for small businesses from corporations, some of which back the most prominent brands in the world. FeDex selected Rumi Spice for the small business grant from among 7,800 entries.

Rumi Spice evolved from a startup program at Harvard Business School, where Jung and Miller were students. The forward thinkers had already made a connection with Carol Wang, an international tax attorney with the Afghan Rural Enterprise Development Program, which links local enterprises to companies that have the potential for high growth on the global market.

Thanks to the partnership, more than 1,900 Afghan women have gained employment at three facilities, where they hand-process the saffron during the five-week harvest season each year. From Afghanistan, the saffron is then shipped to Rumi Spice at a facility in the Backyards section of Chicago where it is packaged and sent to Michelin-star restaurants and consumers across the United States. The Rumi Spice network, which boasts more than 300 Afghan farmers, sustains 3.6 percent of Afghanistan’s total foreign direct investment in agriculture.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at By registering, subscribers gain access to both and GrantWatch.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch


Power of Technology – Grants Bring Internet Connectivity Up to Speed in Rural Communities

For teachers at Congress Elementary School, poor internet service forced digital savvy thinkers, who wanted to use technology in the classroom, to begin the slow process of downloading an instructional video the night before to show in class the next day.

That was before educators in Yavapai County, a small Arizona farming community about 100 miles north of Phoenix, banded together to win a combination of state and federal grants aimed at upgrading local broadband connections to improve technology in the classroom.

The last of the funds, a $1.8 million grant designed to bring county internet broadband speeds up to standards, will enable Congress Elementary and 60 other schools and libraries in Yavapai County to access a new fiber-optic connection that will provide faster, more reliable online service. But, that’s not all. The new high-speed broadband will also enable entire towns including homes, businesses and public safety agencies to take advantage of the improved connectivity.

Bringing the Internet up to speed is a long time coming for rural pockets of Arizona, which ranks 29 among states in connectivity. That means other states are worse off. The good news is that $625 million in federal funds has been made available to underserved rural communities lacking adequate internet connectivity under the recently passed spending bill.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, says local and state organizations can begin applying for these funds sometime in the summer. In the meantime, GrantWatch lists the most recent technology grants designed to increase access to broadband internet services in rural and underserved areas of the nation including states like Alabama, where online service can be essential for boosting technology education, economic development, emergency services and healthcare.

Some 842,000 people living in rural Alabama do not have access to broadband internet. That’s almost 20 percent of the state’s population living without what can be akin to “21st century electricity.” Connecting those communities with the same internet services that cities and suburban areas have enjoyed for many years will be a massive project, but one in which policymakers are committed to make happen. Yet, to provide internet connectivity capable of reaching every household in a four-county region of Alabama will cost about $40 million. So even though Tombigee Communications received a $3 million federal grant to help extend service to this region, the job is not even halfway toward completion.

Yavapai teachers, meanwhile, are happy to have secured a lane on the information superhighway. Instead of applying as individual entities, which would have made obtaining funds more difficult, dozens of local educators and administrators collaborated to submit a proposal to the federal Schools and Libraries Program.

Now, getting online is no longer a problem at Congress Elementary, although internet capability remains less than half of what is recommended by the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway. But, at the very least, the planned fiber-optic connection should improve download speed at school – and help the students learn at home.

Principal Stephanie Miller now uses technology every day in class to teach in ways she wouldn’t be able to do without the bandwidth. Internet access has also provided teachers at Congress Elementary with more flexibility to allow for individualized instruction, taking advantage of apps and computer programs that let students learn at their own pace – rather than the slow speeds once required of downloading the internet.

Educators, administrators, nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs across the USA and International seeking internet connectivity grants and frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for technology grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch


4 Reasons Nonprofits Choose GrantWatch, was designed by grant writers to meet the unique needs of the nonprofit, small business and entrepreneurial communities. The online search engine lists grants that are offered from funding sources in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

Nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs turn to GrantWatch to identify grants from local, state and federal government programs, corporations, and public and private foundation to meet their funding needs.

Here is what subscribers say, separates GrantWatch from other online industry resources:

Content – Information about some 4,000 currently accepting grant applications from local, state, federal and international sponsors with new grants posted daily. These grants can be found under more than 55 categories. Upward of 700 new grants are uploaded weekly. More than 14,000 past-due grants are archived.

  • “We especially appreciate the lesser-known foundation grants which are frequently excluded from other grant databases.”

Substance – Each query lists only relevant grants, which include clear and concise information required of applying for and securing funds from a verifiable funding program. Regularly scheduled alerts are forwarded to subscribers when grants match personalized search criteria.

  • “I also really appreciate the grant details page. It tells you all the information on the 1st page. It gives enough information to decide if the grant is for you.”

Simplicity — The website is easy to read, navigate and understand. Create a profile and start searching for grants right away. Subscribers utilize search tools to organize their research and grants viewed, site feature saves the grants for future reference. Another feature, your personalized grant calendar helps you monitor grant deadlines, deliverables and completion dates and the status for submitted and awarded grants. 

  • “The site filters allow us to efficiently find grantmakers by funding priorities and geography”.

Service — Specialists can be reached through chat, email or phone — 9 a.m.-6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday — to assist with searches. Requests for funding opportunities that are not among the current listings are forwarded directly to the research team for identification and posting.

  • “I also find the weekly reminder emails with lists of grants in my state very helpful. It’s exciting to see the list of new grants that have been added.”

Nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff writer at

Blue Angels Foundation Grant Helps Female Veterans Get Back on Their Feet Again

Each raised their right hand and pledged to protect freedom, but, for various reasons, women who have served in the armed forces like former Sgt. Susan Stapleton have trouble asking for help.

Sgt. Stapleton was the first woman to move into The Clinton Cox Residence, a 12-bedroom facility in Pensacola, Fla., that is creating a healthy lifestyle that many veterans so often miss when they leave the service. The Clinton Cox Residence supports up to 12 female veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, providing counseling, addiction treatment, job training and other services.

Programs are offered through Pathways for Change, a Pensacola nonprofit that established the center in January, thanks, in part to a $40,000 grant from the Blue Angels Foundation, which supports military causes. The Dugas Family Foundation provided $200,000 in matching grants for the project as well.

The National Coalition for the Homeless claims military veterans account for 23 percent of the nation’s homeless population. In 2015, American Community Survey data reported that 21.7 million veterans are women, or about 9 percent. Of that 21.7 million, up to 12 percent are homeless. A higher percentage of female veterans have a service-connected disability, have no personal income, and are in poverty.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said in addition to federal support, foundations, corporations and nonprofits provide grants to service the unaddressed needs of veterans and their families. GrantWatch lists many of these grants for veteran serving organizations, especially funds designated to nonprofit s to help veterans and their families manage the transition from active duty to civilian life by dealing with issues such as health, housing, education, career development and family support.

According to Department of Veterans Affairs reports, the suicide rate for veterans is significantly higher than for civilians, and the difference for women is even greater. Despite elevated rates of suicide, substance abuse, and homelessness, many veterans lack access to life-saving support systems that offer treatment programs and temporary housing or important transitional services such as tuition waivers for in-state colleges.

Mike Campbell, a former Blue Angels pilot and the foundation’s president, believes The Clinton Cox Residence is a step toward helping female veterans identify treatment to deal with these issues and to get them back on their feet again.

Nonprofits and interest groups that serve the unaddressed needs of military servicemen and are frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at Sign-up here to receive the free weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.


About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch


Price for Freedom – Grants Turn Coffee Houses into Healing Places for Military Veterans

As owner of the coffee house on Milwaukee’s north side, Bob Curry watches his customers sit by themselves for weeks, quietly observing the environment around them, before they ever so-slowly begin to mingle with others.

Most of the conversations start with "Did you serve?" But, Curry refuses to make judgments about his customers, whom, like him, are USA veterans who long for a safe, comfortable, drug-and-alcohol free environment to heal and recover. “Dryhootch,” a nonprofit which Curry established a decade ago, is that therapeutic sanctuary.

Many of the vets that visit Dryhootch – “Hootch” is military jargon for a safe place to sleep during combat – suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric condition that follows a traumatic event. In these cases, military combat.

Curry knows something about PTSD. The 66-year-old former pilot who flew more than 250 missions during the Vietnam War is one of 653,400 USA veterans treated for PTSD each year by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Given the preponderance of the disorder — more than 14 million Americans will be diagnosed at some point in their lives with PTSD, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.


Curry recognizes the urgent need for more healing places.


Funded by donations and grants from the government, foundations, corporations and individuals, Curry opened a second Dryhootch in Milwaukee, near the VA Medical Center. He plans to open another at a site in Madison, Wisc., and one is in the works for Atlanta. Each will be dedicated to offering a safe, healing place where vets can engage in peer-to-peer counseling to deal with issues of physical and mental health.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said healing the emotional or physical trauma of military service and reintegrating veterans into society is a priority that requires money. The good news is that GrantWatch provides information on these funding opportunities for nonprofits to access grants to provide services and for individual military veterans and their families including health, education, employment and housing.

Grants to USA and Puerto Rico Nonprofits to Construct or Rehabilitate Housing for Veterans

Grants to USA Veterans to Recognize Service in the Nation's Armed Forces

Intensive Business Course and Mentoring Program for USA Veterans with Disabilities

Curry continues to work with vets daily and with community advocates as well including the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, which provided him with a $50,000 grant to fund refinements of a prototype smartphone app built to connect vets statewide and beyond to Dryhootch healing places in their communities.

When he returned from Vietnam, Curry, like many other vets, tried to “stuff” the memory of his service and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder the war had caused. But, those symptoms – flashbacks and nightmares — came roaring back once the Gulf War started in 1990. As a result, he gained weight, drank excessively and, in 2011, reached rock bottom when he was charged with homicide by intoxication.

Even though he was eventually cleared of the charge by reason of insanity due to a rampant case of PTSD, Curry continued to flounder in and out of state mental institutions until fellow Vietnam veterans helped him confront his PTSD. Not only did Curry stand up to his exaggerated arousal and flashbacks, he created a source of assistance for fellow veterans to cope with their military experiences over a cup of coffee.

Nonprofits and interest groups that serve the unaddressed needs of military servicemen and are frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants for veterans can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch


Urban Agriculture Grants Plant Seeds for Access to Healthy Foods, Education, Job Training

While growing up in a public housing complex in the Bronx, Tyrone Robinson didn’t find many options to eat healthy. But, when he started working at a New York City nonprofit, the 23-year-old’s choices began to grow.

Robinson is one of dozens of New Yorkers who have joined the ranks of urban farmers, thanks to Green City Force, a nonprofit organization based in Bedford-Stuyvesant that creates a fertile ground for healthy foods and job training in New York City Housing Authority complexes.

Since 2013, Green City Force has been cultivating not only radishes and beets, but people and hope as well at farms established at NYCHA sites in Brooklyn, East Harlem, and the Bronx. In turn, GCF administers Urban Farm Corps, an AmeriCorps program that teaches three dozen NYCHA residents between the ages of 18-24 each year to manage crops and maintain a farm.

The focus of the farms is on fruits and vegetables, but advocates believe the program, funded in part by a grant from the Citi Foundation, provides a vital link to nutritious food, education and jobs to New Yorkers. A second round of funding from a $500,000 grant announced last month will provide Green City Force with the flexibility to pilot new programs that create access to fresh, healthy foods in neighborhoods where the only dinner options might be Chinese food or McDonald's.

Agriculture in urban areas has gained interest among residents and policymakers across the nation. The federal government, which believes urban agriculture can play an important role in supporting local food systems, has established grants that help inner-city farmers overcome a unique set of challenges including the high cost of land and access to capital resources.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said local governments and nonprofits are also developing programs that foster both city and suburban agriculture in vacant lots and parks, roof-top balconies and roadside open space. Many of these funding opportunities can be identified on GrantWatch.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology reports more than 300 urban and suburban farms have sprouted up across the United States, about a third of which are in the Northeast. New York City is home to nearly 2,000 gardens as well as farms and rooftop growing spaces, many of which are overseen by nonprofits eligible for state Department of Agriculture and Markets grants. These opportunities aim to develop and expand urban farms and community gardens. Others requests for proposals target Brooklyn community-based organizations that can create job training programs in support of the green economy in the borough.

These grants underscore a growing movement to look beyond rural agriculture and support local food systems not only in cities like New York, but in Holyoke, where lawmakers are teaming up with a nonprofit group to create an urban farming program in the western Massachusetts municipality. The plans call for the state to invest $200,000 in two container farms at Holyoke Community College. Under the oversight of Nuestras Raices, interns from the school along with neighborhood apprentices will be taught hydroponic food production including how to grow leafy greens that will be sold to the college and local restaurants.

After his tenure at Green City Force, Paul Philpott established his own hydronic farm inside a shipping container tucked in a parking lot across from the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He tends to a bounty of radishes, kale, lettuce, beets, all lit by bright pink lights. The futuristic farm he manages yields about 35 pounds of produce each week, about half of which is sold to restaurants, caterers and chefs through his business, Gateway Greens.

Nonprofits as well as entrepreneurial farmers like Paul Philpott looking to cultivate their urban agriculture systems can streamline their search for capital by turning to, which lists easy to read and simple to comprehend grant applications. Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.


About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch