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Philanthropic Giving Guidelines

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Berkshire Bank’s charitable foundation is committed to making a difference in communities where Berkshire Bank does business through our philanthropic investments in a variety of non-profit organizations. Through our Foundation, we award $2 million to non-profit organizations across the bank's footprint each year. The following Guidelines are intended to inform prospective applicants about the Foundation's mission, focus areas, priorities and application procedure. We invite your interest in our work, and welcome your participation and partnership.

MISSION

The mission of the bank's charitable Foundation is to strengthen and improve the quality of life in communities where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates have offices by supporting important programs that will enhance opportunities for children and adults. Berkshire Bank Foundation, Inc.  provides support in the following geographic areas in cities & towns where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates have an office:

Massachusetts

  • Berkshire County, MA
  • Hampden County, MA
  • Hampshire County, MA
  • Franklin County, MA
  • Worcester County, MA
  • Middlesex County, MA
  • Essex County, MA
  • Suffolk County, MA
  • Norfolk County, MA

New York

  • Albany County, NY
  • Schenectady County, NY
  • Saratoga County, NY
  • Washington County, NY
  • Columbia County, NY
  • Warren County, NY
  • Rensselaer County, NY
  • Fulton County, NY
  • Montgomery County, NY
  • Onondaga County, NY
  • Oneida County, NY
  • Herkimer County, NY

Connecticut

  • Hartford County, CT
  • Tolland County, CT

Vermont

  • Bennington County, VT
  • Rutland County, VT
  • Windsor County, VT

New Jersey

  • Mercer County, NJ
  • Middlesex County, NJ

Pennsylvania

  • Bucks County, PA
  • Montgomery County, PA


Grant Programs

The charitable Foundation offers four (4) grant programs, each with their own guidelines, programmatic criteria and desired outcomes. Only requests that fall within one of the grant programs and achieve one or more of the desired outcomes will be considered. 

1. Education: Rolling Application.

Our vision is that all individuals have access to resources to become college, career and job ready to contribute to the economic vitality of our communities.

Desired Outcomes:  

  1. All children read at grade-level by grade three
  2. All individuals have a basic understanding of their finances and have the tools they need to overcome hardships and pursue their dreams
  3. All individuals have access to post-secondary education opportunities, professional training, skills development programs and real-world experience to pursue a successful career
  4. All at-risk students have access to quality after-school and summer programs that enhance educational opportunities

To achieve these desired outcomes, we seek to support specific programs that address one or more of the following:

  •  Reading Success: Programs that help provide access, engage students & families and ultimately change behaviors that result in increases in reading proficiency by the third grade
  •  Financial Capabilities: Programs that empower individuals with tools, support and coaching to learn better money habits including the importance of building credit and understanding banking basics which will help lead to short & long term economic success
  • Job Readiness: Programs that provide soft and hard skill development coupled with opportunities for career exposure including service and community engagement opportunities, internships and apprenticeships
  • Workforce Development: Programs that provide training or retraining, including support services for individuals facing challenges entering or reentering the work force. Support services include career counseling, interview skills, resume-building, etc.
  • Student Support: Programs that connect youth to adult or peer mentors for structured soft and hard skill development or programs that provide additional tutoring/educational support after school or during the summer months

2. Community & Economic Development: Rolling Application. 

Our vision is that all communities served by Berkshire Bank or its affiliates are strong thriving places to live, work, and raise a family.

Desired Outcomes:

  1. Individuals have access to quality affordable housing options that meet the evolving needs of our communities
  2. Individuals have access to quality supportive services that enable homeownership and address housing sustainability
  3. Neighborhoods are safe, free of blight, welcoming and thriving 
  4. Communities are prosperous and able to support small business growth and entrepreneurship

To achieve these desired outcomes, we seek to support specific programs that address one or more of the following:

  • Affordable Housing:  Programs that preserve, construct and increase access to affordable housing including the creation of new single and multi-family units or programs that help homeowners remain in their homes
  • Homebuyer Education: Programs that provide housing counseling focused on the pre and post home purchase process as well as access to down payment assistance
  • Small Business: Programs that help create, expand and sustain small businesses including efforts to build capacity, access capital and create new jobs while encouraging entrepreneurship
  • Neighborhood Revitalization:  Programs that support the rehabilitation of blighted properties, revitalization of low-income corridors, foster innovation through public/private partnerships that spur economic opportunity, encourage property owner improvements and incentivize private development
  • Economic Development: Programs that spur business growth, address community challenges such as population decline, attract, engage and retain qualified professionals and support key economic drivers.

3. Rotating RFP: 2017 Basic Needs: Rolling Application.

Each year our Foundation will extend an RFP to address a third  issue area that impacts the communities where we live and work. In 2017, we’ll solicit proposals that address basic needs. Grants for this RFP will be up to a maximum of $2,500.

 

Basic Needs –Our vision is that all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and economic standing have access to food, shelter and basic health care.

Desired Outcomes:

  1. Individuals have access to food are fed and no one goes hungry
  2. Individuals have access to safe temporary or transitional housing
  3. Individuals can address their basic health needs including mental health
  4. Individuals facing addiction receive quality treatment

To achieve these desired outcomes, we seek to support specific programs that address one or more of the following:

  • Food Access: Programs that increase awareness and connect individuals facing food insecurity to available resources
  • Feeding Programs: Programs that provide free, nutritious meals or food  to individuals in need including local food banks, feeding programs, soup kitchens and nutrition programs
  • Temporary Shelter: Programs that provide free short term emergency shelter to those in need
  • Transitional Housing: Programs that provide affordable housing that are not permanent and serve as a stepping stone to long term options for vulnerable individuals 
  • Quality Healthcare: Programs that provide basic quality healthcare services to low-income or homeless individuals including mental health
  • Addiction Treatment: Programs that provide counseling, supportive services and treatment to those battling addiction

4. Community Building: Invitation Only.

Community Building grants are proactive contributions identified by local business unit leaders and foundation staff to support a variety of programs that may fall outside our defined funding strategy. These grants support local business and community objectives. Applications are by invitation only and only a small pool of funds are available. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited inquiries for these funds.


GRANT PROGRAM PRIORITY AREAS

The Foundation looks to support requests that fall within one of its grant programs. In addition to achieving the desired outcomes associated with each program, the Foundation also gives priority to the following types of requests:

  • Programs and projects that benefit more than 51% low-moderate income individuals
  • Programs and projects that have Berkshire Bank employee and customer involvement
  • Programs and projects that offer Berkshire Bank employees opportunities to be involved through volunteer efforts and board service.
  • Programs and projects with a demonstrated, tangible records of success

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

To be considered for grant funding organizations must:

  • Be recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Organizations that are not 501©3 are not eligible.
  • Be located in or primarily provide service in a community where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates are located.
  • Apply for a program or project that meets one of the Foundation’s focus areas.
  • Submit a completed Foundation Grant Application through our online system and provide such other documentation as may be requested. *Requests are required to be submitted online and Berkshire Bank Foundation will not respond to written inquiries seeking funding support.

FIRST TIME APPLICANTS

Organizations that have not previously applied to Berkshire Bank Foundation or have not received funding in the prior calendar year are required to call Berkshire Bank and speak with a Foundation staff member prior to submitting a formal application. This process is intended to help non-profits determine if they are a good fit for funding so that prospective applicants do not submit proposals for which the Foundation would not likely support. Organizations should call Berkshire Bank Foundation at 413-447-1724 to speak with a staff member.

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LIMITATIONS

The Foundation has the following limitations to their funding:

  1. The Foundations will not consider more than one application per 12 month period from any single non-profit organization.
  2. Organizations that have received a charitable grant or corporate community sponsorship are not eligible for another donation for 12 months from the date on the award notice.

INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS & REQUESTS

The foundations do not support the following types of organizations and requests even if an applicant meets all other eligibility criteria outlined above:  

  • Fraternal, labor and political organizations, including fraternal orders of police and firefighters
  • Lobbying groups
  • Religious organizations
  • Private foundations
  • Intermediary organizations that raise and distribute funds in their own name
  • Annual memberships and annual appeals
  • Endowments
  • Underwriting support for conferences or seminars
  • Scholarship Programs/Funds
  • Camperships
  • National health related organizations
  • General operating support
  • Staff Costs/Internship Salaries
  • Individuals
  • Capital Campaigns
  • K-12 Public or Private Schools
  • Public or Private Colleges & Universities

APPLICATION DEADLINES

In 2017, the Foundation will accept grant requests are accepted on a rolling basis however decisions are made in accordance with the schedule below. These requests are due by the first of the month and decisions are made by Foundation staff with input from Regional Foundation Grant Committees the following month.

Applications Received:

Review Period

Decision Date

January 1

January 2 - 30

February 1

February 1

February 2 - 27

March 1

March 1

March 2 - 30

April 1

April 1

April 2 - 30

May 1

May 1

May 2 - 30

June 1

June 1

June 2 - 30

July 1

July 1

July 2 - 30

August 1

August 1

August 2 - 30

September 1

September 1

September 2 - 30

October 1

October 1

October 2 - 30

November 1

November 1

November 2 - 30

December 1

November 2 – January 1

January 2 - 30

February 1


Please note that any request submitted after November 1st will not receive a funding decision until the following year. In 2018, the Foundation will move to quarterly deadlines by grant program area. Information about those deadlines will be made available in late 2017. 

HOW TO APPLY
 
For your convenience, Berkshire Bank Foundation is excited to offer an online request process, which will help determine if you are eligible for support and collect all the information that we need to make a timely decision.

The first time an organization applies to Berkshire Bank Foundation for support using this new system they will be required to create a user name and password. This will allow organizations the enhanced functionality of being able to track past applications, funding decisions, any follow up reports that need to be submitted as well as monitor their submission.  After your initial account creation all subsequent times you visit the site you can simply login.

Our online application process has the following five stages:

  1. Page 1 Eligibility Quiz: Applicants are required to complete an eligibility quiz to determine if their request meets basic eligibility requirements for support from the Foundation.
  2. Page 2 Organization Information: Applicants are required to complete basic organizational information including the official organization name, address, website, tax id number and provide information about the people your organization serves.
  3. Page 3 Contact Information: Applicants are required to submit full contact information for the primary request contact as well as the President/CEO/Executive Director of the organization.
  4. Page 4 Project/Program Information: Applicants are required to submit information about the program or project they are applying for including a brief program summary, budget, and other supporting information.
  5. Page 5 Attachments: Applicants may be required to submit the following attachments as part of any funding request: 501c3 IRS determination letter, Line Item Project Budget, Latest Audit/Copy of Recent Financial Statements, and a Board of Directors List. Applicants also have the option of submitting other material that they feel may help Foundation staff in the review process.  

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IMPORTANT APPLICATION INFORMATION
Applicants will have the option to save and finish their work at any time. After completing the application and submitting it successfully, applicants will receive a thank you email sent to the address they provided.

In an effort to be more environmentally friendly and notify applicants in the most efficient manner, Berkshire Bank Foundation uses electronic communications to notify applicants that their application was received, processed, and if it was ultimately approved or declined.

Applicants whose requests are chosen for funding will receive commitment notices electronically requiring them to provide important information so that we can ensure funds are transferred successful.

APPLY NOW

EDUCATION GRANT APPLICATION

COMMUNITY/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANT APPLICATION

BASIC NEEDS GRANT APPLICATION


SAVED APPLICATIONS & REQUIREMENTS

To access a "saved" application, complete a grant requirement or to access your Grant Applicant Account please Click Here

FUNDING DECISIONS
Funding decisions are based on a variety of factors including available resources and the degree to which proposals meet Berkshire Bank Foundation's charitable giving focus areas and priorities. We also look closely at employee and customer involvement when considering requests in addition to their alignment with our focus areas.

Revised December, 2016

IMPORTANT… Protect yourself from possible e-mail fraud threats Berkshire Bank will never request your confidential information through an email. Contact us at 800-773-5601 to verify any email request or to report suspicious emails.

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Contact Us

Berkshire Bank Foundation, Inc.
413-447-1724
P.O. Box 1308
Pittsfield, MA 01202
foundation@berkshirebank.com

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