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Strengthening Partners - Small Grants Program

Grants to Massachusetts and New York Nonprofits, Schools
for Programs Serving Youth with Disorders and Disabilities

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 of up to $30,000 to Massachusetts and New York nonprofit organizations and schools that serve children and youth with intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and other disorders for capacity building activities. The deadline to register in the online grants portal is January 10.

In broad terms, the Foundation’s Strengthening Partners portfolio supports organizational capacity building activities. The Foundation recognizes the importance of strong organizational infrastructure to delivering high-quality programming and promoting organizational sustainability.

The Tower Foundation supports programs 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)

Learning disabilities are neurological disorders affecting the brain's ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information. These constitute disorders in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. These disorders do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor abilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, of traumatic brain injury, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

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)

Small Grants Program:

The Small Grants Program provides funding for projects or purchases that do not involve service delivery. The Small Grants Program focuses on short-term (one year or less) projects that: help organizations pursue their missions more efficiently; consist of practical applications requiring little or no customization; or that are critical to an organization’s viability.

These can include:
-Capital/Equipment: Small purchases requiring one-time (i.e., non-recurring) capital or equipment purchases.
-Capacity Building: Specific activities or projects aimed at strengthening an organization’s governance, leadership, programmatic, or administrative capacity. Examples of allowable capacity building activities include: organizational assessment, an agency’s first audit, strategic and board planning, executive coaching and consulting, and staff participation in professional development.
-Program Development: Support for program development, program planning, or enhancement (but NOT service delivery).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180785

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Up to $30,000

Term of Contract:

The Small Grants Program focuses on short-term (one year or less) projects.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Organizations located in and currently providing services to one or more of the populations the Tower Foundation serves (see below) within the following regions are eligible to apply for Tower Foundation grants:

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

New York:
-Erie County
-Niagara County

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 or diocesan school districts, or
-Private or charter schools.

The Foundation gives preference in its Small Grants Program to organizations with annual budgets of $3 million or less.

Grantees receiving a Small Grants Program award are not eligible to apply for another Small Grant for two years (e.g., a 2018 Small Grants award recipient would not be eligible to apply for another Small Grant until 2020). Organizations receiving Small Grants are still eligible to apply for any of the Foundation’s other grant opportunities.

Applicants who do not receive funding for a Small Grants request may submit again for the next Small Grants cycle.

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 campaigns
-Consist of scholarships, services, or treatment for specific individuals,
-Consist largely of general operating support.

Pre-Application Information:

The Foundation anticipates allocating a total of $300,000 for its 2018 Small Grants Program, with $100,000 allocated to each of the three grant cycles.

Small Grants are intended to cover the complete cost for small capital requests or capacity building projects. If you are requesting a Small Grant to supplement other funds for a more costly project, you must demonstrate in your submission that you have secured all other funding for the Foundation to consider your submission. For instance, if you have a project that costs $40,000, and you are requesting a $10,000 Small Grant from the Foundation, you must demonstrate that the remaining $30,000 has already been secured from other sources.

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.

To be considered for an award, preliminary grant requests must be received by 11:59 PM on the stated deadline.

-Applicants Create Grant Portal Accounts: 1/10
-Small Grants Applications Due: 1/17
-Small Grants Program Decisions Sent: 3/2

-Applicants Create Grant Portal Accounts: 5/2
-Small Grants Applications Due: 5/9
-Small Grants Program Decisions Sent: 6/23

-Applicants Create Grant Portal Accounts: 8/5
-Small Grants Applications Due: 8/22
-Small Grants Program Decisions Sent: 10/5

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

Chuck Colston, Program Officer
716-689-0370 x206

Don Matteson, Chief Program Officer

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

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