Grant Making Procedures

West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) is the recipient of funds contributed, and to be contributed, by Columbia University under a 2009 Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

The CBA contains several categories of commitments from Columbia University. One of these is a Benefits Fund of $76 million payable in installments over 16 years that began in 2009. The grant-making procedures in this document refer to the annual WHDC Community Benefits Grant disbursed from the Benefits Fund only, unless specifically referred to otherwise.

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WHDC'S Grant Making Program

WHDC aims to support activities that benefit West Harlem by deploying funds pursuant to the CBA through WHDC’s Grant-Making Program and other activities. WHDC’s strategy is to address the needs of West Harlem through project specific collaborations and capacity enhancements of nonprofit organizations and institutions. WHDC requires its grantees to meet specified or negotiated measurable goals within WHDC’s vision. Funded projects of organizations must be located in, or provide services to Manhattan Community District 9 (MCD9) in West Harlem, bounded as: South to North: from 110th Street to 155th Street; and East to West: from Manhattan, Morningside, St. Nicholas, Bradhurst and Edgecombe Avenues to the Hudson River.

The CBA contains a list of activities for which its original $76 million, payable over 16 years, may be spent. Included are activities to address eight need categories namely: Arts and Culture, Community Facilities, Education, Workforce and Economic Development, Environment, Historic Preservation and Housing. In 2014, WHDC’s board decided to condense these into four categories: Education, Community Facilities, Housing, and Workforce & Economic Development. In 2015, WHDC’s Board further prioritized these into Affordable Housing, Education (including youth development), and Workforce & Economic Development. The prioritization aims to ameliorate the endemic issues of public school failure, rising unemployment and limited skills, and rising housing costs and displacement. In 2018, WHDC’s Board made the decision to shift from two funding cycles per year to one cycle titled Community Benefits Grant Awards. WHDC continues to examine the impact of its grant making and thus reserves the right to set new priorities.

Community Benefits Grant Awards

Community Benefits Grant Awards are general support funds that are designed to enable a non-profit organization to enhance its capacity and/or direct programs. The minimum award is $5,000 and the maximum amount is $25,000. Grant amounts are subject to change by WHDC and the ranges will be announced prior to each grant cycle.

Applicant organizations are evaluated on their ability to effectively demonstrate how their organizations mission and proposed activities align with WHDC’s mission and priorities. Previous grantees will be evaluated on the impact of WHDC’s previously funded activities. All successful applicants will be required to provide interim and final reports on measurable outcomes that their programs have achieved. The categories for application are: Education (including youth development), Community Facilities, and Workforce & Economic Development.

Grant Funding and Activity Guidelines

  • Amounts applied for should not exceed WHDC’s maximum grant range, or 50% of the organization’s current year’s overall budget, whichever is less.
  • At least 75% of the services funded by WHDC must be provided to residents of MCD9. Programs that are based in public schools and are located in MCD9 do not have to meet this qualification. All applicants will be required to submit resident participant information to WHDC.
  • Grants are for one year and can be renewed by application upon successful performance.
  • All grants are paid in two installments - the first with the WHDC grant award letter and the second after satisfactory attainment of milestones as agreed and noted in the interim report. WHDC strongly encourages organizations to seek funding from additional sources to supplement requested support from WHDC. WHDC reserves the right to add additional requirements for the payments of the first and second installments.
  • All successful applicants will be required to attend a Community Board 9 general or committee meeting within the grant term. Proof of attendance must be attached to the Interim report. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the second installment payment.
  • All successful applicants will be required to submit Interim and Final reports that document progress of grant supported activities. The Interim report is due at the halfway mark of the program activity.

Application Criteria

An organization may submit only one application in response to each application cycle, either on its own or in collaboration with other groups. To be eligible for funding, applicants must meet the following criteria:
  • All applicant organizations must be incorporated as a non-profit organization in a state in the U.S.A. If not incorporated in New York, the applicant organization must provide a certificate to do business in New York.
  • All applicant organizations must be physically located and providing services in MCD9, or not located in MCD9 but able to demonstrate the provision of services to MCD9 over at least the last 12 months.
  • All applicant organizations must have a non-profit, tax-exempt status recognized by the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Projects not funded by WHDC

Projects not funded from WHDC’s Benefits Fund at this time include the following:
  • Construction of buildings and major capital expenditures excluding office equipment not costing $500 each
  • Start-ups, pilot projects that are not based on, or modeled after other existing projects with strong evidence of successful outcomes will not be considered for funding
  • Projects that are sponsored by religious organizations and schools with bias to a particular religion and are not open to the entire community
  • Endowment funding requests
  • For-profit schools
  • Proposals to fund individuals, private foundations, and donor advised funds
  • Proposals to give grants to for-profit entities whether incorporated as C corporations, Sub Chapter S, or LLC

Grant Application Process

WHDC’s grant making is managed through a secure, user-friendly, cloud-based software system. The application process takes two to six months.

STAGE 1 - Application A request for applications is announced on WHDC’s website, via social media and through an email update sent to organizations on file in our database. To register as an applicant organization, the organization must answer a set of questions to assess how they meet WHDC’s minimum requirements to be considered for funding. After a satisfactory review of the registration request, WHDC will provide applicant organization, via email, instructions on how to access grant application.

STAGE 2 - Review After the submission of a grant application, an internal assessment is conducted by WHDC to evaluate applicant organization’s mission and initiative alignment with WHDC priorities.

STAGE 3 - Decision After WHDC Board approvals, applicant organizations are notified directly about the outcome of their application. The first installment of a grant award is disbursed after successful applicant organization returns a signed grant award letter to WHDC. Grant awards are shared publicly on WHDC’s website.

Transparency and Consent

By application, the organization agrees that WHDC has full rights to:
  • Publish information of grant awards that may include organizations name, amounts of award, contact information, and program description
  • Use the name of organization and its program information in WHDC’s press interviews and disclosures
  • Organization will provide stories, pictures, and videos of program activities to WHDC

The 2020 Community Benefits Grant application is now closed.