January 17, 2024

Need help paying for school? Your local community foundation might be able to help

Community foundations are all about helping the people from a specific area. Lots of them offer grants and scholarships for college students or graduating high school seniors, and plenty have applications that are open right now!

To anyone who’s searching for ways to pay for school: you might not have to look as far as you think. If your area has an active community foundation, you can check the foundation’s website and find out about the opportunities they have for students.

According to the website Cause IQ, there are over 4,000 community foundations in the United States [2]. The term “community foundation” is a classification that basically means the organization is run—and supported—by a bunch of people, as opposed to a smaller group. 

Basically, the difference between a community foundation and a private foundation (which is a more common type of organization [6]) is that a community foundation’s money mostly comes from lots of public, individual donors, while a private foundation is supported by a smaller group—like a single person, family, or corporation. [1]

Community foundations can vary pretty widely in size and control funds that range from the thousands to the billions. Currently, the biggest community foundation in the world is the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), which, according to their most recent financial statement in 2022, manages almost $14 billion in assets [3] [5]. According to the SVCF, the organization awarded $2.6 million in scholarships to 670 students for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

To find your own community’s foundation, you can use the Council on Foundations’ interactive map, which links to a bunch of registered foundations throughout the United States. 

If you can’t find anything close to you on that map, you can also do a little bit of internet sleuthing. Try googling “[your county] + community foundation” or “[your county] + scholarship” and see whether anything comes up. 

Once you find an organization that serves your area and offers college scholarships, you can check their eligibility requirements and start your application. 

You should think about starting this process pretty soon—January through March is a pretty common application window for community foundations. You wouldn’t want to miss the deadline on a scholarship that’s perfect for you! 

Want someone to do the work of finding scholarships for you? For a comprehensive database of the scholarships that can get you through college debt free, check out Mos! Mos matches you to your best scholarship options and keeps track of the deadlines so that you don’t have to. 


  1. https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/guidance/philanthropy/community-foundations.html

  2. https://www.causeiq.com/directory/community-foundations-list/#:~:text=There%20are%204%2C120community%20foundations,List%20of%20community%20foundations

  3. https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/community-foundations#:~:text=The%20Silicon%20Valley%20Community%20Foundation%20is,community%20foundation%20in%20the%20world.

  4. https://www.siliconvalleycf.org/annual-reports/2022/by-the-numbers

  5. https://www.siliconvalleycf.org/assets/img/media/svcf-financial-statement-audit-2022.pdf

  6. https://www.causeiq.com/directory/private-foundations-list/#:~:text=There%20are%20145%2C625private%20foundations,List%20of%20private%20foundations

  7. https://cof.org/page/community-foundation-locator?_gl=1%2A9g2n7k%2A_ga%2AMzYwODQ1MDY3LjE3MDQ4MzE5MDg.%2A_ga_RY8Q6D6GZZ%2AMTcwNDgzNTIwNi4yLjAuMTcwNDgzNTIwNi42MC4wLjA.

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