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Nonprofit organizations invited to enter A Community Thrives challenge

Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Let’s Build Change Together!

You are invited to share your community building idea with us by applying by Sept. 11 to A Community Thrives challenge, the grant making and crowdfunding program of USA TODAY Network. Through the program, nonprofits and municipal programs have an opportunity to receive grants totaling $2.3 million, donations and local and national exposure.

Here’s how it works: A Community Thrives provides grants to nonprofit organizations and municipal programs across the nation with projects focused on community building.

This year: A Community Thrives will award 16 project grants and offer weekly bonus promotions totaling $1 million.

The grants comprise:

Three $100,000 grants

Seven $50,000 grants

Six $25,000 grants

Plus, top fundraiser and weekly bonus promotions throughout the campaign totaling $200,000

In addition, applicants that provide services in local Gannett markets, including southeast Nebraska, and meet eligibility requirements will be considered for local operating grants totaling $1.3 million.

To begin the grant process: Go to act.usatoday.com

To be eligible to receive a grant: Organizations must reach or exceed their prescribed fundraising goal on Mighty Cause. The prescribed amount (either $3,000 or $6,000) is based on the organization’s budget. Last year the two tiers were organizations with budgets under or over $500,000. Participating organizations keep all the money raised via Mighty Cause during the campaign. Local communities fundraised more than $2.5 million in 2019.

The submission period runs through Sept. 11. Then there’s a four-week crowdfunding period from Sept. 22-Oct. 16. All grant recipients will be announced in December 2020.

Please apply for your grant before the deadline of Sept. 11, 2020. 

For more details including official program rules, go to act.usatoday.com and feel free to contact ACT@usatodaynetwork.com with questions. 

FAQs

Q: What is A Community Thrives?

A: A Community Thrives is a grantmaking and crowdfunding program from the USA TODAY Network, which includes USA TODAY and Gannett’s hundreds of local media brands, including the Nebraska City News-Press and the Syracuse Journal-Democrat. Supported by the Gannett Foundation, the program offers an opportunity for readers to share great ideas for how to improve their communities. Gannett provides a national platform and a chance at $2.3 million in grants to get the ideas off the ground and running. 

Q: Who is eligible to apply for a grant?

A Community Thrives is open to valid legal 501(c)(3) nonprofits providing services within the United States or the District of Columbia and Guam. Tax deductible units of government (for example, a library or school) as well as fiscally sponsored organizations that aren’t 501(c)(3) registered are also eligible but will need to get their organizations set up on the Mightycause fundraising platform to be able to accept funds raised. Examples are food banks, housing organizations, cultural organizations, libraries or parks.

Applicants must either be an authorized staff member of the qualifying nonprofit organization or have authorization to submit on behalf of the qualifying nonprofit organization. Fiscal agency is permitted.

Q: What types of grants are available?

There are three types of grants, as well as weekly bonus challenges: national project grants, local operating grants and top fundraiser grants.

Q: What are national project grants?

These grants support projects by nonprofits that serve people in local or regional areas or statewide or nationwide. Sixteen grants will be awarded: three for $100,000, seven for $50,000 and six for $25,000.

Q: What are local operating grant awards?

A: Entrants with community operations in Gannett markets that meet eligibility requirements will be eligible for consideration for operating grants. The minimum operating grant amount is $2,500.

Q: What are top fundraiser grants?

A: These are incentives for raising the most money. The three organizations in each tier that raise the most online during the program’s fundraising phase will each receive incentive grants:

$25,000 for the top fundraiser (one winner in each tier)

$15,000 for the second-highest fundraiser (one winner in each tier)

$10,000 for the third-highest fundraiser (one winner in each tier)

Plus, there are weekly bonus challenges in each tier that offer extra opportunities for organizations to receive additional grants. Information on how the bonus challenges are structured are in the official rules.

Q: How are we determining what tier organizations belong to?

A: Tiers will be determined based on the operating budgets of the applicant pool to create as equitable a split as possible. In 2019, it was over and under $500,000. Approved organizations will receive an email on or before Sept. 15 informing you of your organization’s tier.

Q: Do organizations need to raise a certain amount of money?

A: To be eligible to receive a project or operating grant, Tier 1 organizations must raise at least $3,000 and Tier 2 organizations must raise at least $6,000 online via their Mightycause pages during the fundraising period.

Q: What is Mightycause?

A: Mightycause is an online fundraising and nonprofit eligibility management tool we are using to host the A Community Thrives program. A Community Thrives has a branded Mightycause page, which houses the program application and fundraising tools. All participating nonprofits will submit their applications to participate on the site and fundraise online via Mightycause.

Q: What is the deadline to participate in the 2020 program?

A: The submission period ends on Sept. 11, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Applications must be submitted before the deadline.

Q: What is the deadline for donations?

A: The fundraising period starts on Sept. 21, 2020, and ends on Oct. 16, 2020. All donations must be received through an organization’s A Community Thrives Mightycause campaign page by Oct. 16, 2020, at 11:59 a.m. EST.

Q: Can individuals donate to their own campaigns?

A: An individual can donate as they wish. An individual or organization cannot use organization funds to donate to its own Mightycause campaign for this program.

Q: If an organization doesn’t raise the minimum amount required to receive a project or operating grant, does the organization still keep the money raised?

A: Yes! That is the beauty of this program. Even if an organization doesn’t receive a grant, this program still presents the opportunity to raise money for local causes and groups.

Q: How are grants selected?

A: Only campaigns that reach or exceed their goal during the program fundraising period on Mightycause are eligible to receive a grant from the Gannett Foundation. 

The national project grants will be awarded at the discretion of the Gannett Foundation, based primarily on the viability and sustainability of the project and how the project contributes to community building. The operating grants will be awarded by regional committees based primarily on community need and how the organization’s mission contributes to community building. The incentive grants will be awarded based on fundraising totals. 

More information is found in the rules. Gannett reserves the right to look at the other top submissions if the top fundraisers do not meet certain vetting requirements. Incentive grant recipients may be one of the same organizations selected to win another grant, but do not have to be.

Q: If an organization receives a grant, are there requirements on how it is used?

A: National project grants must be used toward executing the project outlined in the organization’s project submission. Operating grants, incentive grants and the money raised through crowdfunding campaigns should be used toward general operating expenses of the associated 501(c)(3).