Grant Guidelines

Policies for the Distribution of Grants from Unrestricted and Field-of-Interest Funds

The following policies and guidelines govern the process by which the Williamsburg Community Foundation (Foundation) makes grants from its Unrestricted (AKA: Community Endowment), and Field-of-Interest Funds

Foundation Mission:
The Williamsburg Community Foundation enhances the quality of life in greater Williamsburg by connecting people with causes that matter, managing charitable funds, and providing grants and scholarships for our community’s most pressing needs and promising opportunities.

Grantmaking Vision
The Foundation’s grant-making activity supports a broad range of philanthropic purposes that benefit citizens in Williamsburg, James City County, and York County.

The Foundation awards grants in the following areas:

In its review of grant applications, the Foundation will consider:

  • The degree to which the request meets the Foundation’s Grantmaking Vision as described above.
  • The priority of the project in relationship to other current applications, given the funds available for distribution.
  • Whether the project duplicates an existing program, and if so, is there a substantial underserved population in spite of the existence of similar programs, and/or to what extent the two programs are working together to serve a similar population.
  • The applicant’s potential to implement the proposed project, including the likelihood of securing sufficient funding for the project to be viable. Evidence of the fiscal, managerial, and programmatic viability and effectiveness of the applicant.
  • How recently and at what amount the organization has received support from the Foundation. It is highly unlikely that an organization will receive funding from the Foundation’s Unrestricted Funds twice during a calendar year.
  • The applicant’s record of effectively using previous grants from the Foundation.
  • Available assessments of need, strategic plans or other independent, objective studies or reports that may have a bearing on the need or priority of the project in the community.


The Foundation will make grants to organizations that serve residents of Williamsburg, James City County and York County:

  • that are qualified as tax-exempt under Section 501(C)(3) and 509(a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(3); by the Internal Revenue Service and to private operating foundations,
  • government entities for public purposes
  • religious organizations (only under certain circumstances – see below)

Applicants must submit all required documentation. Incomplete grant applications will not be considered.

The Foundation will not generally make a grant two years in a row to an organization for the same project.

The Foundation will not make grants for:

  • unspecified use of funds;
  • retroactive funding for any project expenses incurred before the Foundation’s decision date;
  • multi-year grants or commitments;
  • public and private K-12 schools except where specific funds (Altshuler Fund, Occasion for the Arts Fund) have indicated that the fund will support public and private K-12 schools.* Funding should be used to support activities or purchases that are not otherwise funded by local, state or federal government funds;
  • religious purposes (but may be made to religious organizations for projects with a broad-based, inclusive community benefit);
  • political or partisan purposes;
  • individuals;
  • a program or activity that engages in discrimination that would otherwise be prohibited by law;

*Public schools in Williamsburg-James City County should be aware that grant funding can be available from the WJCC Schools Foundation (not affiliated with Williamsburg Community Foundation.)


All grant recipients must provide a report on the use of the grant within one year using the Foundation’s preferred reporting method. Reports should detail how dollars were expended and what the project achieved. Agencies that have not filed a report for a previous grant within one year are not eligible to submit a new application, unless an extension has been requested and approved by staff.

Staff will review final reports and provide summary information to the Committee on the results. Final reports will also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Foundation’s grant programs. Staff will track grants by category and amount to analyze grantmaking trends over time.

Grant Award Determination

A list of all applicants, including those not being recommend for funding, will be presented to the Board of Trustees. Grant recommendations will be approved by the Board of Trustees or the Executive Committee except in the case of Emergency Response grants or mini grants presented by staff for quick approval. Emergency Response grants and mini grants will be approved by the Chair of the Board of Trustees and reported on at the next meeting of the Board. Following the Board Meeting, all grant applicants will be notified of their approval or denial.

Information on applications will be shared with WCF donors who have expressed an interest in helping to support grants to local organizations. Applicants may opt out of having their application information shared during the application process.

Appendix 1

Addendum to Policies for the Distribution of Grants from Unrestricted and Field-of-Interest Funds

Williamsburg Community Foundation Focus Areas

Arts and Culture
Building community wide cultural vibrancy will increase the quality of life for area residents and improve our economy.


  • Community members have access to a variety of arts and cultural opportunities.
  • Residents are enriched and educated through diverse offering of arts and cultural activities in their community and schools.
  • The region’s cultural assets are supported to engage current and future generations.

WCF Supports:

  • Increasing access to the arts through performances in varied locations, discount ticket prices and opportunities to reach diverse audiences.
  • Public art and free performances in public locations.
  • Increasing the management capacity of arts organizations though staff and volunteer training or planning grants.


  • Number of attendees at cultural and performing arts events.
  • Number of programs and location of programs.
  • For training and planning, completion of identified training programs or completion and implementation of strategic and development plans.

Children and Young Adults
Children and Young Adults represent the future of our community. By providing the support and opportunities to enable our youngest citizens to thrive we will create a more vibrant community for all of our residents.


  • Children in the area served by the Foundation will enter school ready to learn.
  • Educational enrichment opportunities will be available and affordable for local children.
  • Young adults will have opportunities for volunteering and employment in our community.

WCF Supports:

  • Early childhood development.
  • Positive youth development through after school and summer enrichment programs.
  • Educational and therapeutic programs to enrich the quality of life for children and young adults with special needs.
  • Educational programs and job training for young adults.
  • Protecting children from abuse and neglect.


  • Number of children and young adults served compared to number of residents in that age group.
  • Types of opportunities offered.

Environment and Conservation

Within our efforts to improve the quality of life for area residents, protecting and conserving our community assets are a key component. Among the many treasures of our community are our rivers and waterways, parks, greenspaces and historical sites.


  • A community where the key physical assets of our community are valued and maintained.
  • A community where our natural resources are preserved and maintained
  • Preservation and maintenance of our historic sites continues to be a high priority for our community.

WCF Supports:

  • Programs that educate the public about our local environmental resources.
  • Programs to promote the preservation and conservation of natural resources.
  • Programs that promote the recreational and therapeutic use of our natural resources.
  • Programs that engage local residents in our key physical resources.


  • Number of residents served.
  • Acres of land under conservation easement or conserved for public benefit.

Health and Community Wellness

Resources are available to improve the quality of health and well-being for all residents.


  • Residents are connected to resources and services that meet their health, education, nutrition, physical fitness and safety needs regardless of their financial capacity.

WCF Supports:

  • Programs that improve the quality of life for lower income residents.
  • Educational and therapeutic programs that enable adults with low literacy and special needs to more fully participate in community life.
  • Local nonprofit providers for specific wellness needs, i.e. healthy meals, housing, transportation, etc.
  • Other aspects of community life that improve wellbeing for area residents.
  • Veterans and their families.


  • How many clients are served.
  • How the program enables residents to have a better quality of life.

Senior Services

Members of our community over 65 have opportunities to maintain their health and wellbeing.


  • Greater Williamsburg will be an age friendly community where residents over 65 have access to services and programs that maintain or improve their quality of life.
  • Organizations supporting senior citizens have the resources necessary to thrive and grow.

WCF Supports:

  • Programs and services that help older adults stay informed, healthy, and engaged.
  • Programs that increase the capacity of local organizations to support senior citizens who wish to age in place.
  • Respite care or support groups for families of those with Alzheimer’s or other disease that requires home care services.


  • Number of residents served.

Appendix 2

Verification of public charity status.

The Foundation will use one or more of the following methods to verify a potential grantee’s charitable status:

  • Internal Revenue Service, Exempt Organizations Select Check,
  • Internal Revenue Service Business Master File
  • Grantee’s Internal Revenue Service determination letter or group ruling letter identifying grantee as included in the ruling
  • GuideStar’s Charity Check
  • Verification of church status for houses of worship and affiliated schools not found on the above lists

Verification of units of government.

  • In most cases, the Foundation will maintain a copy or screen shot of the home page for a political subdivision (city, county, town, school district, etc.).
  • For Native American tribal governments, the Foundation will consult the list maintained by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. The list is at Tribal Leaders Directory | Indian Affairs (
  • Staff will analyze, with assistance of counsel, if necessary, situations in which governmental status is not clear.

The Foundation will not normally make grants that require the exercise of expenditure responsibility. This includes grants to nonprofit organizations that are not public charities and grants to businesses.

If the Foundation Board elects to make an expenditure responsibility grant, it will follow the following process:

  1. The Foundation will conduct a pre-grant inquiry to determine whether the proposed grantee is reasonably likely to use the grant for the specified purposes and that those purposes are charitable.
  2. The Foundation and grantee will sign a written grant agreement that includes all provisions required by Treasury Regulations.
  3. The grantee will be required to maintain the grant funds in a separate account on the grantee’s books.
  4. The grantee will be required to submit a written report summarizing the project promptly following the end of the period during which it used all grant funds and to submit any interim reports the Foundation may require.

(Approved September 8, 2022)