These guidelines are intended to provide a broad sense of the Foundation’s program interests and priorities. They are not intended to be prescriptive or reduce the potential for presentation of creative ideas and innovative solutions.
The Foundation does not make grants to individuals, for-profit entities, endowments or for debt reduction. Capital grants are highly selective and generally limited to nonprofits in Tompkins County, NY. Eligible organizations must be classified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Prospective grantees are encouraged to review these guidelines. If they believe their work may fit into the Foundation’s interests, they should contact the Foundation before submitting a full proposal. Contact can be by telephone, short email, or letter of inquiry. For contact information see Contact Us.
Park Scholars Programs
The provision of scholarships to highly qualified students at North Carolina State University and Ithaca College was a longstanding interest of Roy H. Park Sr., a tradition that the Foundation continues today. In the two decades since it began the Scholars Programs, the Foundation has provided grant support totaling over $125 million dollars. These scholarship grants underwrite four-year commitments that currently total about $6.5 million per year.
North Carolina State University
The NCSU Park Scholars program supports nearly 40 new scholarships each year, and its roster of current scholars and alumni is nearing 1,000. Recipients are selected by NCSU through national recruitment and a rigorous review process that includes on-campus interviews of finalists. Those selected have demonstrated achievement and potential in four key areas: scholarship, leadership, service and character. The grants cover tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, a computer stipend and living expenses. The scholars represent a wide array of majors across the entire university, including business, engineering, the humanities, public administration and the sciences.
Program enhancements include enrichment grants, specialized faculty mentoring, retreats, and leadership learning and myriad civic engagement opportunities.
In 2013, Park Foundation established an endowment for the NCSU Scholars program with an initial gift of $10 million. Significant elements of this endowment include the University’s commitment to invest the endowment in a socially responsible fashion, and its commitment to raise an additional $50 million as part of its current capital campaign.
The Park Scholars Program at Ithaca College targets outstanding students entering the Roy H. Park School of Communications. Nearly 300 students have joined the Scholars program since its inception, studying the full range of communications majors including cinema, documentaries, emerging media, TV-Radio, journalism, management and marketing. Scholars are encouraged and trained to use the power of mass communication to make a positive impact on the world. In a typical year, the program supports a total of fifty or more students with commitments to cover the entire cost of attendance: tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and stipends for a computer and living expenses. One feature of the program is the “rising juniors” opportunity for meritorious students to receive a scholarship for the final two years of their undergraduate degree.
Program enhancements include multiple opportunities for community engagement, leadership, and service training for participation locally, nationally and globally. Park Scholar alumni live, work and serve across the nation from New England to the Pacific Northwest, from Florida to Texas to California.
In 2014, Park Foundation established an endowment for the program with an initial gift of $5 million. Similar to the NCSU endowment, Ithaca College has committed to investing this endowment in a socially responsible fashion.
The Foundation supports public interest media that raises awareness of critical environmental, political and social issues to promote a better informed citizenry in the U.S. It supports quality, non-commercial media that is substantive, fair, and accurate. Program priorities include investigative journalism, media policy and public broadcasting.
Investigative Journalism supports excellence in reporting on nationally-significant public affairs issues in the U.S. Competitive proposals will show evidence of groundbreaking content employing multi-platform media tools with potential to achieve broad distribution and social impact.
Media Policy supports nationally-significant initiatives that promote fair and open media systems and policies in the U.S. The Foundation supports projects that advance universal access to communications, a "neutral" Internet, diverse and independent ownership, public interest media and the future of journalism.
Public Broadcasting supports nationally distributed and aired television and radio programming. Preference is given to in-depth, investigative reporting projects that include diverse, public interest voices and perspectives.
Documentary Films supports a very limited number of small grants to individual documentary projects related to civil society and democracy, environment and animal welfare. Requests for funding greatly exceed available resources and preference is given to projects with wide distribution and community engagement. Prior to submitting a proposal, prospective applicants should contact the Foundation via phone or e-mail to determine appropriate fit. Please be prepared to provide information regarding content and treatment, distribution, outreach, budget, funding sources (and fiscal sponsorship as appropriate).
Media projects are also funded in the Foundation's Environment program.
The Foundation supports efforts that work to ensure drinking water in the United States is clean, affordable and accessible, and is protected and managed as a public necessity. It is willing to consider diverse approaches that raise awareness and offer solutions to drinking water concerns, including, but not limited to, policy development, advocacy, organizing, and media activities.
Water As A Public Necessity supports efforts that empower communities to exercise their rights to protect local drinking water resources. It also supports large-scale efforts to reduce bottled water consumption through raising awareness of the costs and implications of bottled water use, including concerns related to the privatization of water supplies. Funding is available for programs that operate nationally or regionally in the eastern United States, with limited support for state level projects.
Public Policy is focused on efforts to advocate for strong and enforced water policies and increased public investment in sustainable water infrastructure at state and federal levels. Support is primarily targeted to organizations with national policy agendas and New York and North Carolina programs. The Foundation has developed a specific policy interest in addressing concerns about hydraulic fracturing and gas drilling activities proposed for New York State.
Freshwater Media supports media and investigative reporting outlets that raise awareness of drinking water issues through independent reporting, with coverage that focuses on availability, quality and accessibility. Stories may be national in scope, but funding is generally targeted to coverage of specific issues in the eastern U.S.
Corporate Responsibility includes support for investor activism and advocacy efforts that identify and publicize corporate responsibilities and liability risks related to water use and impairment. Funding is available for programs that operate nationally.
Additional grants are made by the Foundation that cover a wide variety of environmental issues, but with special concentration on environmental issues in North Carolina, environmental health concerns, and training and capacity building opportunities for environmental organizations. These grants are made at the Foundation's initiative. The Environment Program does not directly support single river or watershed programs.
The Foundation supports nationally-significant efforts to ensure the humane treatment, care and well-being of domestic animals and the protection and conservation of endangered wildlife and wildlife in captivity in the U.S. The program supports innovative, comprehensive, solution-oriented models that lead to systemic change, reduce suffering, and foster a more compassionate society.
Domestic Animals support national efforts to reduce the number of homeless companion animals through the development of model high-quality, low-cost spay/neuter services and corresponding public education initiatives. The Foundation also supports public education and advocacy efforts to eradicate animal fighting practices.
Wildlife supports nationally-significant efforts to advance the protection and conservation of wildlife with an emphasis on policy and advocacy work related to threatened and endangered species. Another specific area of interest is the lifelong care of primates rescued from research laboratories, entertainment and/or the pet trade.
Grants made to select animal shelters and wildlife rescue organizations in specific geographic regions are at the Foundation's initiative.
The vision of the Sustainable Ithaca program is that Ithaca and Tompkins County become a fully sustainable community – environmentally, socially and economically. Accordingly, grantmaking addresses a spectrum of topics with emphasis on integration of systems and cross-sectoral collaboration. A special interest is on projects that enable low-income and the community of color access to and participation in sustainability measures.
In addition to the Foundation restrictions outlined in the general overview above, grants are limited to projects and programs that impact sustainability in Tompkins County, NY. Requests for projects outside the county will generally not be considered.
Ecosystem Conservation includes both terrestrial an aquatic systems conservation and restoration. Primary emphasis of aquatic systems is Cayuga Lake and its tributaries. Overall goal is to maintain an intact, functional ecosystems in Tompkins County. Projects and programs that address toxic threats to humans and natural systems will also be considered.
Energy and Climate Change includes addressing climate change by reducing energy use via efficiency measures and increasing use of renewable energy sources. Overall goal is to assist the residents of Tompkins County in meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Environmental Education includes an emphasis on informal K-12 programs and adult education to encourage individual and organizational sustainability practices.
Local Food System includes support for the infrastructure of the local food system and identification of gaps in the system. The overall goal is to increase the amount of food produced locally.
Smart Growth includes support for smart growth planning, zoning reform, alternative transportation modes, and vehicle mile reduction.
The Community Needs program concentrates on opportunities for low-income residents of Tompkins County, NY. An important value of the Foundation is equity and the Foundation places a strong emphasis on equity in human service grants and efforts which lead to good outcomes for all.
The Foundation believes that it is better for everybody when it is better for everybody. As a result, a social justice lens for Community Needs grant making will be employed. For the purposes of grantmaking, social justice is defined as understanding and interrupting the traditional patterns of exclusion which prevent equal opportunity for all. The emphasis is on addressing the needs and barriers to success faced by the most disenfranchised members of our community.
The Foundation has historically funded projects within the categories of health and human services, youth services and education, social justice and equity, and capacity building and philanthropy within its Community Needs program. It is anticipated that programs within these broad categories will continue to be funded along with proposals that advance social justice in other human service fields locally.
Priority will be given to low-income and historically disenfranchised populations. A strong preference will be given to proposals that:
- Develop interventions in partnership with the populations the project is intended to serve.
- Include relevant data for subpopulations within the target audience and tailor programs to meet the needs of those people who are most impacted by the issue being addressed.
- Identify barriers to success and facilitate initiatives that will surmount those obstacles.
- Describe how the proposed project will be implemented and evaluated in order to ensure that the intended beneficiaries are most effectively reached.
Grants for advocacy and community organizing around critical issues in Tompkins County will be considered. Technical assistance, capacity building and planning grants are also available and interested parties are encouraged to discuss these needs with program staff before making an application.
Funding is limited to organizations serving residents of Tompkins County. Youth populations are given higher priority. Generally, the Foundation does not support disease-specific programs or capital requests.