The Community Foundation provides more than $8.1 million in funding to local students and to nonprofits through our competitive grant and scholarship programs and through our donor advised and designated funds. All grants have a single goal: making life better for all in our region. Our grants include the following types of funding:

•    Donor Advised, Designated and Special Purpose Funds amounted to over $4.6 million in 2015.  These types of funds are provided directly to non-profits by the donor or through a designation to a specific agency.

•    Competitive grant and scholarship programs amounted to $3.5 million in 2015.  Through these programs we also support nonprofits with funding and technical support.  Some of our competitive grants are awarded through an open, competitive grant application process, others are by invitation only.

What you need to know about our Grant Portal 
CFWM Competitive Grants

2018 Grant Programs – Chart


Since our founding in 1991, The Foundation has provided more than $29.8 million in competitive grant support. We did this with the help of local volunteers who make funding decisions for this program.

Mission Grants are popular for nonprofits that seek support for programs and infrastructure. For 2016 Mission Grants encompasses three types of grant opportunities.

Nonprofits may choose from one of the following:

•    Mission Standard Grants are awarded through a competitive process for new or existing programs or projects (including capital campaigns for 2016) that support an organization’s infrastructure.

•    Mission Express Grants is an enhanced fast-track option for specific undertakings of a nonprofit.  We are piloting this process in 2015 and 2016.

The Foundation recognizes that there are times when nonprofits may not fit into one of the Mission Grant options noted above. Especially in times of unexpected challenges, CFWM offers a third type of grant:

•    Mission Critical Grants are designed to help a small number of nonprofits respond to unanticipated circumstances for a limited time frame of up to three months.

For CFWM’s fiscal sponsor form click here.

Capacity: In 2016, CFWM’s Capacity Program featured the popular Valley Gives program on May 3. Valley Gives is a 24-hour online philanthropic event that assists non-profits throughout the Pioneer Valley to enhance their fundraising capacity and raise needed funds. During the three-year pilot, Valley Gives supported 557 non-profit organizations, engaged over 24,000 donors and raised more than $5.8 million. Building on this success, the Community Foundation’s Capacity Program seeks to continue to enhance the effectiveness of our region’s non-profit sector through a program that will include trainings, convenings, and other programmatic efforts.  The impetus for the Capacity program is the belief that the quality of life of the people in the Pioneer Valley will be improved if the nonprofit sector has the capacity to address the needs and aspirations of those in our communities.

Challenge: CFWM will offer an option for nonprofits seeking support for capital campaigns through a program that incorporates challenge or matching grants and consultation. This will help nonprofits and generous donors to magnify their impact and success in fundraising by participating in Challenge Funding which is especially helpful when seeking support for capital campaigns.

Nonprofits may also seek capital campaign funding for early stage activities (such as feasibility studies or other pre-campaign activities) through our Mission Grants program in 2016.  The application deadline is June 10, 2016 for our Mission Standard process.

Innovation:  The CFWM is administering its first competitive Innovation Grant Program in Fall of 2016.  Through our Innovation Grant Program we are seeking bold ideas that can further improve the quality of life in the Pioneer Valley.  This grant program will provide funding for emerging ideas, projects and/or new collaborations that can substantially impact or provide solutions to challenging problems in our communities.  We will encourage applications from organizations that work together strategically and in collaboration – in new and creative ways – to determine how to best address these needs, problems and challenges.   Information on this grant program will be released at the end of August 2016 on our website and through community outreach sessions.  Contact Sheila Toto at with inquiries. Start your preliminary application today!

Projects Using Fiscal Agents:  All projects or organizations seeking to use a fiscal sponsor must be approved by CFWM staff prior to accessing program grant applications.  Requests to serve as a fiscal sponsor must be received by the CFWM 10 business days prior to the grant program application due date.  Please contact Sheila Toto at 413-728-2858 or  For CFWM’s fiscal sponsor form click here.

By Invitation Grants: 
The CFWM’s “‘By Invitation” approach is a proactive grant-making opportunity identified by program staff or CFWM to seed or pilot programs which most appropriately match the Foundation’s strategic goals and fit within our grant-making criteria.  By Invitation grants are not for the purpose of supporting nonprofit organizations soliciting on-going programs, new ideas and opportunities. These types of nonprofit inquiries are addressed through the CFWM’s on-going competitive, responsive grantmaking programs.  By invitation grants are infrequently provided by the CFWM and are specifically solicited at the request of Foundation staff or volunteers (Trustees and Distribution Committee members) and meet this criteria:

  • Direct alignment with Foundation strategy
  • Fit within Distribution Committee and CFWM grantmaking priorities that include impact, leverage of funding, opportunity for CFWM learning and financial commitment of the potential grantee
  • Quality of project

Scholarships: The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, along with educators, families, students and donors, share a commitment to helping students throughout the Pioneer Valley access higher education by administering a scholarship and no-interest loan program.  Due to the generosity of our donors, more than 125 individual scholarship and loan funds have been created and we are fortunate this generates over $2 million yearly in funding for students. Approximately 800 scholarships and loans were awarded to high school graduating seniors, undergraduate and graduate students primarily across the Pioneer Valley.  All students apply using the online application found at beginning the first week of January and ending on March 31, 2017.  An official transcript and Student Aid Report (SAR) are required in the application process and must also be received by the Community Foundation by March 31, 2017.  Please review our FAQ’s for additional information.

For scholarship specific questions, please contact

To start a scholarship fund, please contact and review our guidelines

For CFWM’s fiscal sponsor form click here.