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 Scholar 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 Scholar 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 Scholarship 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 Scholarship 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 Scholar 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.
Environment Program Guidelines
The Foundation’s Environment Program has two major interests:
- To ensure drinking water is clean, affordable, and accessible, protected and managed as a public necessity; and
- To challenge continued shale gas extraction and infrastructure expansion.
Drinking Water: The Foundation supports efforts on a national scale or in New York State that promote: strong and enforced water policies; increased investment in publicly owned and operated water infrastructure; empowerment of communities and individuals to exercise their rights to protect drinking water resources; and reduced consumption of bottled water.
On a limited basis, the Foundation is exploring opportunities to support organizing and advocacy at the national scale to address lead in drinking water.
Energy: The Foundation supports statewide efforts in New York that decrease reliance on fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, by challenging the expansion of its infrastructure, including pipelines, compressor stations and new natural gas power plants. The Foundation will also consider requests that will help shift the state’s energy needs away from conventional fossil fuel sources and toward a clean energy system that is accessible, affordable and protective of citizens’ health.
The Foundation is interested in catalyzing action and is willing to consider diverse approaches that raise awareness and offer solutions to drinking water and energy concerns, including, but not limited to, policy development, advocacy, organizing, and corporate responsibility.
Additionally, the Foundation will consider support for investigative reporting outlets that raise awareness and provide new information on drinking water and shale gas energy issues. Stories may be national in scope, but funding is generally targeted to coverage of issues that are relevant to New York State.
Other environmental grants that cover additional geographic and issue areas are made at the Foundation's initiative and the scope of these interests is separate from these guidelines. Please contact the Foundation for more information.
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 for domestic animal shelters and wildlife rescue organizations are made only at the initiative of the Foundation. Unsolicited requests for domestic animal shelters will not be considered.
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. The primary emphasis of aquatic systems is Cayuga Lake and its tributaries. The overall goal is to maintain 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. The 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.
The vision for the School Food and Nutrition Special Project area is that all Tompkins County residents will have adequate nutritional security to support their health, growth, and well-being. In particular, the Park Foundation has set a goal of ensuring that every student in Tompkins County has access to and is choosing to eat nutritious and appealing food in school. The Foundation is viewing this work through a social justice lens. This includes the understanding that access to adequate, healthful food is a human right and closely linked with an individual’s or family’s ability to focus on higher-order priorities such as employment, education, participation in public life and caring for family and community.
The goal of the Foundation is disruption of the self-reinforcing cycle depicted below:
Currently, the Foundation is pursuing two strategies to achieve this goal:
The Single District Strategy involves a close multi-year partnership with one Tompkins County School District focused on advancing the district’s and community’s goals regarding school food, nutrition and nutrition education. The Foundation has selected the Groton Community and the Groton Central School District for its pilot partnership.
The Tompkins County Opportunity Strategy seeks to develop relationships, skills and ideas in support of quality school food and nutrition at Tompkins County public schools. This is envisioned as grantmaking in support of discrete programs requiring technical assistance, planning or training that will advance the overall project goal of ensuring that every student in Tompkins County has access to and is choosing to eat nutritious and appealing food in school. On-going operating funds for such projects is not available. Grant decisions will be guided by the following parameters:
- All projects should generally address opportunities or shortfalls identified in the Needs and Asset Assessment of Child Nutrition in Tompkins County Links to that report are here: Full Report or Executive Summary .
- Projects and interventions must be developed in partnership with the populations the project is intended to benefit.
- All school-based projects (programming during the school day or at a school) must involve relevant school district personnel in planning, design, implementation and evaluation.
- Grant proposals should address school-year, school-day nutrition in one or more Tompkins County public school(s).
Equipment purchases will be limited to items essential to advancing the goals of proposed projects. Requests for projects outside Tompkins County will not be considered.