Community Building Grant Program

The Community Building Grant Program seeks to support organizations and programs that recognize and build on a community’s strengths and assets. Awards are made by the Maine Community Foundation's county and regional committees and a statewide committee that reviews proposals both from counties without county committees and organizations whose projects are statewide in scope.

The Community Building Grant Program will only support projects that clearly meet all three of the following core criteria:

  • Use of existing community resources: The proposed project uses the skills, services, materials, and/or time that people and organizations in the community can and will provide.
  • Ability to strengthen community life: The proposed project makes the community stronger by helping it address current or future challenges.
  • Sustainability: The proposed project will continue to affect the community after community foundation funding has been exhausted. This is because the project is designed to have long-term impact and/or because there are realistic plans to acquire future funding.

To be considered for funding, proposed projects must also meet one or more of the following priorities:

  • Develop community relationships: The proposed project uses new partnerships or collaboration between the applicant and other community organizations. These new partners will help plan and develop the project.
  • Involve community members: The proposed project engages community members who will benefit from the project. These community members are included in the planning, implementation, and/or evaluation of the project.
  • Advance community leadership: The proposed project fosters the development of community leaders. It includes opportunities for community members to improve or practice new leadership skills.

Types of Support

The Community Building Grant Program will award two types of grants: Project grants for new and expanding programs and grants to improve organizational effectiveness, also known as capacity building.

Grants for New Program Development or Program Expansion: Organizations may request support to develop and implement new programs or for the expansion of an existing program that is proven to be successful at meeting its stated objectives. In addition, organizations seeking support for program expansion should use program practices that have been proven to be successful in earlier implementations of that project.

Capacity Building Grants: Organizations may request support for activities focused on strengthening their operations or strategic focus or improving program effectiveness in specific areas. Examples include long-range planning, use of technology to improve program delivery or operations, or board development. Applicants need to explain how the proposed activities are expected to improve the organization’s impact. Capacity building grants can be used to support staff time required to accomplish proposed activities. For more information, please see our Grant Guidelines page.

Capital Expenses: Proposals for new or expanding programs may include capital expenses only if they are directly related to the outcomes of the project. Capital expenses eligible for support include materials and equipment such as tools, computers, or other necessary materials, and building renovations. New building construction will not be supported.

The Community Building Grant Program will not support the following types of programs or fundraising efforts because they primarily provide very indirect or delayed benefit to the community:

  • Operating support: This includes support for overhead and ongoing administrative costs such as rent, phone, and office supplies; salaries of key staff such as the executive director, or administrative staff; and
  • Ongoing activities: Activities that are part of the organization’s mission with no clear start or ending dates. Projects or programs that have already been implemented and are continuing without expansion.
  • Endowments or capital campaigns: Activities designed to increase capital or assets of organization. This includes costs related to verbal or written requests for financial support such as appeal letters or fundraising events.
  • Camperships: This includes funding for admission, enrollment, tuition, or other costs related to individual or group attendance at a short-term recreational or educational program.
  • Capital expenses: Purchases of equipment or building materials that are related to the organization’s core operations rather than projects or capacity-building programs with clearly defined outcomes as described above.

Grant Size

Grants are available for up to $10,000. These funds cannot be used to support ongoing programs, capital campaigns, or scholarships.

Applicants may request a maximum of 20% of their project budget for indirect costs. (Indirect costs are administrative and overhead costs that can not be directly tied to a specific project or activity. Indirect costs should be listed in on the last line of the project budget and labeled “indirect costs” Indirect costs do not need to be itemized but must not exceed 20% of the entire project budget.

Grants are for one year of support. Please note that while the maximum award is for $10,000, available grant resources will restrict many committees from being able to fund projects at this level. Staff routinely update individual grant program web pages with information about average award sizes and percentage of applicants that received full or partial funding.

Eligibility Requirements

All applicants must meet the Maine Community Foundation’s general grant eligibility requirements. In addition, please note that:

  • Grants cannot pay for program expenses that have already been incurred.
  • Organizations located outside the State of Maine must demonstrate that they are working with a Maine-based group to develop and implement the proposed project.

The Community Building Grant Program will accept more than one application from a single large organization (those with annual operating budgets equal to or greater than $2 million), if the applications are from distinct programs within the organization and if the proposed programs serve different counties. For example, both the Community Center and the Education Department at Learning University may apply to the Community Building Grant Program because they are separate programs within the university. In addition, the Community Center’s proposed project serves Aroostook County, and the Education Department’s proposed project serves York County.

Applicants should use the name of the organization that holds the EIN when applying, and begin their project descriptions with the name of the individual program or department that is seeking the funds.

Eligibility will be determined by MaineCF staff; please contact us for more information.

How to Apply

MaineCF has moved to a new platform for our online grantmaking. For more information visit our Online Application Information page. The deadline for applications is February 15.

If you need additional information or assistance, please contact Amy Pollien, Grants Manager, at or toll free at (207) 412-2012.

Project Progress Report

All grant recipients will be required to submit a Project Progress Report approximately 10 months after receiving payment of the grant. Organizations that fail to file a progress report will not be eligible for future funding from Maine Community Foundation competitive grant programs for one year or until the missing report is filed.