(ACTIVE) African American Giving Initiative

Categories: African American Community Issues, African Americans, Poverty, Race / Ethnicity


The focus of the African American Giving Initiative is to build on the assets and address the challenges experienced most strongly within the African American community. Through its annual grantmaking, the Giving Initiative supports projects and programs that positively impact or directly reduce an identified disparity in the African American community and lead to systemic change. Collaboration with partners and/or the ability to replicate program achievements are also key components of a successful application.

Click here to learn more about the Giving Initiative.

Typical Grant Size

Each year, the Giving Initiative members will determine how many grants and the size of the grants awarded based on the number and quality of the applications. Only grant proposals of $2,500 or more will be considered.

Here is a history of grants awarded:

2018: Three grants totaling $10,000 were awarded to support:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester: Supports the “Beyond School Walls” mentoring program that targets 70 at-risk Rochester youth ages 6 to 18, involves African American mentors, and one-on-one sessions to take place at the mentors’ places of work. $5,000
  • Quad A for Kids: To strengthen the successful after-school programs offered at four city schools by focusing on academic, project-based learning, leadership development, and community service. $2,500
  • Wilson Alliance: Supports the Rochester City School District Wilson Pearls step team’s college prep program that serves high school girls ages 14 to 20 four days a week and provides workshops, tutoring, team building, and community service. $2,500

2017: Three grants totaling $7,100 were awarded to support:

  • Gateways Music Festival 2017: Professional musicians of African descent from across the nation come to Rochester to perform and, in conjunction with local volunteer supporters, change the face of classical music. $2,500
  • Cameron Community Ministries: Supports the Respect & Responsibility for Boys Group, a special weekly component of its youth program. $2,100
  • University of Rochester: For a two-year, paid youth apprenticeship program that will provide hands-on work experience for under-represented junior and senior high school students in Rochester with an expressed interest in healthcare. $2,500

2016: The Judicial Process Commission received a $5,000 grant to assist African American ex-offenders as they re-enter the community by providing a mentor and job training opportunities.

2015: Three grants of $3,333.34 each were awarded to support:

  • Cameron Community Ministries: Strengthen the after-school program for 40 youth in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood.
  • Gateways Music Festival: This biennial festival, held in Rochester since 1995, celebrates the contributions of classical instrumentalists of African descent.
  • Group 14621 Community Association: Supports the Conkey Cruisers bicycling program that is changing the negative perception of exercise in that neighborhood.

2014: Group 14621 Community Association received $2,500 to support the Conkey Cruisers bicycling program.

2013: Gateways Music Festival received $5,200.

Eligibility Criteria

Organizations in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates counties with 501(c)(3) status that are actively working to reduce disparities that affect the African American community. Consideration will also be given to initiatives that receive fiscal sponsorship from a 501(c)(3) organization.

Application Due Date(s)

The application deadline is 4 p.m. on Friday,  April 17, 2020.


Applications are accepted online. Click here to begin a new application, create a new online account, or return to your account.

Note: Our application includes a request for the demographics of applicants’ boards and staff. This information will not be used to determine grant awards. Rather, it will be used to provide a snapshot of the diversity within community organizations that have applied for and/or received Community Foundation funding.


Simeon Banister
Rochester Area Community Foundation
500 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607

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