The Foundation awards grants in several program areas to strengthen the fabric of the Eastern Shore community and to reflect the diverse interests of its donors.

Nonprofit Grants

The Foundation awards grants to nonprofit groups on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the following areas:

  • Family, Child and Social Welfare – to improve the quality of life for families and communities, particularly in the areas of basic human needs

  • Public and Civic Life – to preserve and increase access to our unique community assets

  • Arts & Culture – to promote broad-based participation in arts and cultural activities

  • Education – to improve students’ readiness to learn and ability to succeed in school and in life

  • Health – to support healthcare services and wellness education through community-based organizations

  • Environment – to support environmental preservation and education

Criteria for Consideration

The Foundation considers numerous criteria in reviewing grant proposals. For example, does the organization:

  • Benefit a meaningful number of people through the project in relation to its cost?

  • Assist those whose needs are not met by existing services?

  • Obtain matching gifts or additional funding from other sources to implement and sustain the project?

  • Promote collaboration among agencies?

  • Strive to strengthen or improve agency self-sufficiency or efficiency?

  • Evaluate the outcomes of its programs?

Special Initiatives

From time to time, the Foundation may participate in special initiatives that focus on a priority community need. These initiatives may involve one-time collaborative funding or a special program that continues for a prescribed time period.

What We Don’t Fund

Unrestricted funds are generally not available for:

  • Organizations not tax-exempt under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Individuals
  • Fundraising events (such as tickets, raffles, auctions or tournaments), annual fundraising appeals, or agency celebrations
  • Ongoing operating support
  • Political, fraternal or religious activities
  • Endowments
  • Existing obligations, debts/liabilities or costs that the agency has already incurred
  • Scholarly research
  • Scholarships, camper fees, fellowships or travel
  • National or international organizations, unless the grant is restricted to benefit Accomack and/or Northampton counties
  • Hospitals and similar health-care facilities, excepting Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital and Eastern Shore Rural Health
  • Projects normally the responsibility of government
  • Organizations that have been awarded discretionary funding from the Foundation within the preceding five years
  • Private primary or secondary schools or academies other than those whose primary purpose is for special needs, unless there is a significant opportunity for community use of, or collaboration with, the facility or project
  • Capital campaign requests exceeding 5 percent of campaigns valued at $1 million or more


The Foundation considers project evaluation an important element of each grant it makes. Our goal is to evaluate the implementation of projects awarded a grant so that the Foundation and the grantee organization can both learn from the process. Specific evaluation requirements will vary based on the type and size of grant awarded and will be clearly defined in the grant-award agreement. Site visits by ESVCF staff may be required.

5-Year Time Limit

Any organizations that have received a discretionary grant from the Foundation in the past five (5) years will be precluded until 5 years have passed from applying for another discretionary grant.

Grant Limits

A maximum of $50,000 for each grant may be requested.

Relationship With the Hampton Roads Community Foundation

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation, founded as The Norfolk Foundation in 1950, and with which the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Foundation is affiliated, engages in discretionary grant making on the Eastern Shore of Virginia as part of its grant making program supported by its own financial resources. Organizations in financial need may apply directly to both the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Foundation and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for grant assistance. Grant applications to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation are governed solely by the grant making policies and guidelines of that foundation.

Grant Decisions

Guiding principles assist the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Foundation’s Board of Directors with all of its discretionary grant making decisions. These principles deal primarily with eligibility and funding priorities.


The Foundation concentrates its resources geographically to provide the most benefit to residents of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The highest priority will be given to requests for grants from nonprofit organizations that benefit the counties of Accomack and Northampton.

Funding Priorities

The Foundation focuses its resources on projects and programs that are likely to continue to strengthen the community beyond the period of funding. Highest priority will be given to requests for specific capital projects, such as buildings, renovations and equipment needs that meet the Foundation’s grantmaking goals and provide a long term community benefit.

Equal Opportunity

The foundation makes grants on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, color, religion, sex, marital status, disability, national origin or age.