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Core Programs and Services Grant

Grants to Massachusetts and New York Nonprofits and
Schools Serving Youth with Intellectual Disabilities or Disorders

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation

Deadline Date:

08/22/18 11:59 PM Receipt


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Grants ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 per year to Massachusetts and New York nonprofit organizations and schools for youth-serving programs that address learning disabilities, mental health, intellectual disabilities, and substance abuse disorders. The deadline to register in the online application portal is January 10.

The Tower Foundation makes grants in four key categories: Intellectual Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, and Substance Use Disorders. These grants are intended to improve the lives of young people age zero to 26 affected by intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental illness and/or substance use disorders, as defined here:

An Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. Intellectual functioning refers to general mental capacity, such as learning, reasoning, and problem solving.

Adaptive behavior comprises three skill types:
-Conceptual skills (e.g., language and literacy; money; time; number concepts; self-direction)
-Social skills (e.g., interpersonal skills, social responsibility; self-esteem, gullibility, naïveté, social problem-solving; ability to follow rules/obey laws and avoid being victimized)
-Practical skills (e.g., personal care, occupational skills; healthcare; travel/transportation; schedules/routines; safety use of money use of telephone.
(American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 2011)

A learning disability is a lifelong condition which interferes with the ability to learn. It is a neurological disorder that affects the ability of the brain to process, store and respond to information. There are different types of learning disabilities that can affect different areas of processing, such as learning to read, reading comprehension, writing and spelling, organizing written and spoken language, mathematical operations, decision making, and the development of fine motor skills. Individuals with LD may be particularly gifted in other skills and are typically of normal intelligence. (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus)

Mental illness includes medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Foundation Goals:

For each funding category, The Foundation has identified a set of grantmaking goals. Grants will be awarded to projects that show the greatest promise of advancing one or more of these goals (within one category or across categories).

Intellectual Disabilities:
1. Children with intellectual disabilities are identified early and receive services that meet their evolving needs.
2. Young people with intellectual disabilities are engaged in meaningful social, vocational, and educational pursuits.
3. Families understand intellectual disabilities and secure needed supports.
4. Communities embrace persons with intellectual disabilities and provide them with a full-range of supports and opportunities to engage in community life.

Learning Disabilities:
1. Children with learning disabilities are identified early, diagnosed and connected to services that meet their on-going individual needs.
2. Youth with learning disabilities understand how they learn and pursue resources that support them accordingly.
3. Young adults are confident and do not view their learning disability as a liability.
4. Young adults with learning disabilities are ready for work and/or educational pursuits.
5. Families are informed about learning disabilities and are able to identify and navigate available services.
6. Communities value persons with learning disabilities and accommodate their needs.

Mental Illness:
1. Stigma related to mental illness is eliminated.
2. Children with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges are identified early and connected to appropriate services.
3. Young people with mental health challenges understand and manage their conditions and behaviors.
4. Families understand mental health challenges and help members live productive lives.
5. Communities offer meaningful opportunities and appropriate support to young people with mental health challenges and their families.

Substance Use Disorders:
1. Community members understand the prevalence and harmful effects of alcohol and drugs, and work to address them.
2. Resources for substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery are readily available.
3. Families provide safe environments that support healthy choices about alcohol and drugs.
4. Young people make healthy choices about alcohol and drugs.

Eligible Projects:
-Projects must focus on children, adolescents, or young adults (up to age 26) affected by intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
-The majority of grant funds should be for expenses that are new to the organization as a result of the proposed project. Requests for funding to support existing services as currently offered are considered general operating support, and are unlikely to be competitive.

While open to a range of projects that have the potential to advance its goals, the Foundation will give preference to projects focusing on:
-Screening and Assessment: Programs or processes that promptly identify challenges that young people face and match them with optimally effective services, treatment, or supports.
-Transition/Service Navigation: Programs that help young people navigate life transitions, including transitions from one educational setting to another, transitions from job training to employment, and transitions that continue to facilitate personal growth and fulfillment. This includes programs that facilitate sustained recovery from mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
-Community-Based Education and Supports

Community-Based Education and Supports includes:
-Community and Professional Education: Community-based education or professional
development that enhance knowledge of intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental illness and/or substance use disorders; and on tools and evidence-based approaches to promote life and learning skills, wellness, independence, and an individual and creative voice. Education can target teachers and educators, employers, healthcare and human services professionals, and the general public.
-Family Supports: Programs that are supportive of parents and families: parent or peer networks, respite or social activities, family-based support for recovery and wellness, and family support of career and educational planning.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 165345

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

The Tower Foundation is open grants with budgets ranging from (but not limited to) $10,000 to $40,000 per year.

Term of Contract:

The Tower Foundation is open to multi-year grants.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Organizations with local programming that serves primarily residents of the following areas are eligible to apply for Tower Foundation grants:

-Barnstable County
-Dukes County
-Essex County
-Nantucket County

New York
-Erie County
-Niagara County

Organizations located elsewhere that do not have programs in these areas must identify a relevant local agency to serve as grant applicant, act as fiscal sponsor, and take responsibility for program implementation.

Additionally, applicants must be:
-Not-for-profit organizations with a 501(c)(3) designation that are not private foundations, or
-Not-for-profit public benefit corporations, or
-Public and diocesan school districts, or
-Private and charter schools.

The Foundation does not fund programs or projects that:
-Provide private benefits for any grant recipient or affiliated person,
-Attempt to influence legislation or intervene in any political campaign,
-Contribute to capital improvements or capital campaigns
-Consist of scholarships, services, or treatment for specific individuals,
-Consist largely of general operating support.

Pre-Application Information:

The Foundation anticipates awarding approximately $700,000 per cycle in Core Programs & Services grants: $150,000 in each of its four funding categories, with an additional $100,000 available to supplement strong proposals across categories.

The first step in applying for a grant is to submit a preliminary request via the Foundation’s online portal. Once received, the Foundation reviews each submission to determine whether to invite a more detailed proposal. The Foundation may ask some applicants to provide additional information by way of a brief phone call.

Preliminary grant requests must be received by 11:59PM on the stated deadline. Requests submitted after the deadline will be considered during the next cycle.

To ensure that requests are submitted on time, applicants must create an account in the online portal at least one week prior to the preliminary grant request deadline. Individuals who have registered previously do NOT need to re-register; please log in using your existing account.

Applicants will be notified by email approximately three weeks after submitting their preliminary grant request as to whether the Foundation will invite a full proposal. Applicants invited to submit full proposals will then work with Foundation staff over the following six to eight weeks to develop their final submissions.

-Applicants Create Grant Portal Accounts: 1/10
-Preliminary Grant Requests Due: 1/17
-Screening Calls: 1/24 - 2/5
-Full Proposal Invitations Sent: 2/7
-Proposal Decisions Sent: 4/11

-Applicants Create Grant Portal Accounts: 5/2
-Preliminary Grant Requests Due: 5/9
-Screening Calls: 5/16 - 5/29
-Full Proposal Invitations Sent: 5/30
-Proposal Decisions Sent: 8/1

-Applicants Create Grant Portal Accounts: 8/15
-Preliminary Grant Requests Due: 8/22
-Screening Calls: 8/29 - 9/10
-Full Proposal Invitations Sent: 9/12
-Proposal Decisions Sent: 11/14

View the grant information webinar recording here:

Mental Health Program Area:

Substance Use Disorders Program Area:

Intellectual Disabilities Program Area:

Learning Disabilities Program Area:

Foundation Mission and Values:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

All preliminary grant requests must be submitted through the Foundation’s online portal:

Chuck Colston, Program Officer
716-689-0370 x206

Megan MacDavey, Program Officer
716-689-0370 x203

Don Matteson, Chief Program Officer

Nick Randell, Program Officer
716-689-0370 x205

The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation
2351 North Forest Road
Getzville, New York 14068-1225

P: 1.716.689.0370
F: 1.716.689.3716

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts: Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, and Nantucket Counties;   New York: Erie and Niagara Counties