Identifying and Accessing Funding Opportunities

Finding grant opportunities can be a daunting task – where do you even start? The good news is there are a lot of resources available, and this guide will help you navigate through some of them. This section provides an overview of the types of funding resources available, tips on how to identify and access resources, and information on funders of community health initiatives.

Types of Funding Resources

There are several types of funding resources throughout the nation, state, and in your community including government grants, foundation funds, corporate sponsorships, and service organization grants. Some organizations provide grants on a national or state level while others provide to particular projects within specific communities. 

Federal and State Governments. Federal or state governmental agencies often put out calls for proposals on specific topic areas. They usually have a timeframe during which they accept proposals and make funding decisions. It is important to be aware of the timing for different grant opportunities. Where possible, you may want to sign up for email alerts to receive notices about new calls for proposals. 

Foundations. Foundations can be a great source for funding projects, and finding the right foundation for your project is a critical first step in the application process. There are several types of foundations including community, family, and public foundations. Some are small and serve a specific community, while others may give millions of dollars to fund projects all over the country. There are several websites (some listed below) that can help you find a foundation that matches your initiative. Your local chamber of commerce, United Way and county Council of Governments are also great resources when looking for foundations that fund projects in your community.

Corporations. Many corporations offer grants through a foundation or philanthropic division – take a look at their website to see what types of programs and initiatives they typically fund. Companies tend to invest in the communities where they are located so investigating which corporations have headquarters or other corporate facilities in or near your community is a good place to start. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce or United Way for a list. 

Service Organizations. Civic and service clubs, like Kiwanis, the Lions Club, the Junior League, and the Rotary may also have monetary or in-kind resources available. Members of service organizations represent many sectors (e.g. business, education, government, human services, or health) in your community, so engaging with their members can create great synergy with these sectors.

Identifying Funding Opportunities 

Identifying and accessing funding is fundamentally a matter staying abreast of upcoming funding opportunities by conducting regular internet research on funding opportunities and staying connected with your key partners to learn about funding opportunities. There are a number of helpful resources for staying well-informed of upcoming funding opportunities.

  • The Grantsmanship Center provides state-specific information about the top grantmaking foundations, community foundations, and corporate giving programs, as well as links state government homepages. 
  • The Foundation Center is a leading source on philanthropy worldwide and is supported by more than 550 foundations. They have five regional library/learning centers (New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Cleveland and San Francisco) and also maintain an online database of the more than 100,000 foundations, corporate donors and grantmaking public charities. However, searching the directory requires a subscription, the most basic of which costs $19.95/month.
  • The United Way is another great resource to assist in your search for funding opportunities. In 2008, the United Way initiated a 10 year plan with goals to improve education, help people achieve financial stability, and promote healthy lives. These goals with the socioeconomic factors and health behavior factors that are a significant part of the County Health Rankings model. Your local United Way can help connect you to other agencies and/or initiatives going on in your community to address these issues.
  • includes grant opportunities from 26 federal grantmaking agencies, including the departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Transportation, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issues announcements for Requests for Application (RFAs) for specific topics and has set timelines so it is advised that you read the RFA carefully to be sure your project fits into the scope. You can also sign up to receive email updates on the latest news and information from SAMHSA.
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which funds the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, awards grants in several program areas including childhood obesity, health care coverage, human capital, public health, quality/equity and vulnerable populations. RWJF awards most of its grants through calls for proposals. 
  • State government and universities may be another possible source for grants. States may offer competitive grants to work on specific issue areas. Researchers at universities may be willing to work with you to apply for research funds to implement and evaluate your new initiative or you may be able to tap into an existing research project in your area of interest.
Accessing Funds

Here are some key tips on accessing funds for your community health initiative:

  • Plan ahead and know your specific needs – Clearly define resources you need to accomplish your initiative.
  • Clearly understand funding goals and guidelines – Customize your proposal with the funders’ goals and objectives. Follow all technical guidelines as requested by the specific funder.
  • Have a clear picture of success – What are the funders purchasing with their money? How will you deliver your product?  How will you measure your progress toward reaching your goals?
  • Have measurable outcomes – Who will benefit and how? How will your initiative be evaluated?
  • Plan for sustainability – Funders want projects that will continue once the grant period is over. How will you sustain the program?

Health Factor and Funding Source Crosswalk

We have populated this cross-walk with some of the foundation and corporate giving programs mentioned in this guide. As you find additional local resources that align with specific health factors, fill them in to create a more complete guide for funding opportunities in your community.


Health Behaviors, e.g.,

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Focus areas
Approved grants
Ford Foundation Focus areas
Approved grants 
Daniels Fund

Focus areas & approved grants


Social and Economic Factors
Examples, e.g.,

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Focus areas
Approved grants
Hearst Foundation Focus areas & approved grants
Ford Foundation Focus areas
Approved grants
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Focus areas

Approved grants within focus areas

Clinical Care, e.g., Hearst Foundation Focus areas & approved grants
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Focus areas
Approved grants
David and Lucile Packard Foundation Focus areas and approved grants (search database)
Physical Environment, e.g., David and Lucile Packard Foundation Focus areas and approved grants (search database)
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Focus areas
Approved grants (search database)
PepsiCo Foundation Focus areas
Approved grants