You know your community and its challenges best—GHF UPstream seeks to empower your solutions

There is an often quoted parable that tells of two people fishing downstream who are startled to see a person floating down the river, struggling for life.  Working together, the fisher folk pull the person to safety but shortly after they notice another person crying for help.  Again, they pull the person to safety.  Other community members hear what is happening and rush to help.  As the fisher folk tire, volunteers take their place, and the community works together all day and all night to safely pull more and more people from the river.  The next morning the community members have a new idea—we need to go upstream and find out why so many people are falling in the water.  Upon walking upstream, the community members find that people are drawn to the edge of a cliff to look at the river and its beauty. Unfortunately, there is no safe way to do this and many of them fall. The community members return and report the number of people who have fallen into the river due to the lack of a protective barrier on the cliff.  In response, the community builds a wall behind which people may safely view the water.  Some still fall, but there are far fewer.

Funding Priorities

The Greater Harrisburg Foundation (GHF) UPstream grant opportunity seeks to improve our area communities by supporting existing or new “upstream” systems, interventions, programs, or projects that attempt to create positive social change by addressing a problem at its source rather than managing its “downstream” symptoms. This grant opportunity is open to singular or collective nonprofit organizations whose proposals will serve the GHF service area of Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, and/or Perry Counties and the Dillsburg Area of Northern York County.  GHF UPstream is available to organizations of all sizes, budgets, and reaches.  The number of grant awards will be dependent upon the quantity of qualified applicants and funds sought.  In 2019 up to $250,000 in grant funds will be available through GHF UPstream. 

GHF Upstream welcomes creative and strategic solutions that seek to address the source of systemic issues within the communities you serve.  Applicants may seek support for ANY “upstream” project, program, or intervention that best meets the needs of the population to be served.  Examples of upstream projects include, but are not limited to:  access to quality education, access to a safe and healthy environment; life skills training; materials that increase accessibility or improve an individual’s self-sufficiency; availability of reliable and safe transportation that improves an individual or group’s ability to grow, learn, or address a key need; animal spay/neuter clinics; early health screenings; job training and placement; support of basic needs that work to support an individual or group’s ability to grow, learn, or address a key need.  The principal focus of GHF UPstream is the support of any grant application that best presents upstream solutions to any area of community need.  However, empowered by a range of special funds which serve to collectively strengthen our area communities through shared themes, GHF UPstream is additionally pleased to welcome upstream applications that address:

  • Education: Early childhood education; education & development programs for children & youth; educational programs serving adults
  • Environment & Parks: Environmental stewardship; horticulture & the arts; health & environment; park beautification & improvement
  • Health & Wellness: Health & human services; programs and projects focusing upon: cancer awareness and/or research, dental care for those in need, HIV & AIDS, individuals with debilitating or terminal illness, Individuals with intellectual disabilities, prevention of head and/or spinal cord injury, purchasing of devices that improve accessibility
  • Homelessness & Hunger: Programs & projects addressing homelessness & hunger
  • Mental Health: Counseling for children with terminally ill family members; guidance, counseling, or programming that includes guidance and/or counseling for youths; programs and projects that address mental health
  • Seniors: Programs & projects serving older adults
  • Communities of Focus: Programs and projects that benefit residents of Millersburg, a borough of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Disaster relief & human services that serve the communities of Lebanon City, PA and Cressona, PA.  Please note: each community of focus is supported by special funds and parameters established by caring community members and is specific to the respective community.

Attention Prospective Arts Applicants! – The Greater Harrisburg Foundation recognizes the artistic, cultural, and economic value of the arts and is pleased to offer funding opportunities for the arts through The Arts for All Partnership, a collaboration between the Greater Harrisburg Foundation and the Cultural Enrichment Fund.  This unique collaborative funding initiative aims to improve the efficiency of arts grant funding and increase the overall impact of grant funding for arts programming in our communities.  Prospective grant applicants whose project is centered upon the arts and access to the arts, will be best served by seeking funding support through The Arts for All Partnership rather than GHF UPstream.

Grant Eligibility

  • Eligible projects must serve individuals, groups, and/or locations within Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, and Perry Counties, and/or the Dillsburg Area of Northern York County.
  • Applicants must be a charitable organization that is tax exempt under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3) or a public charity under IRS Section 509 (a). Organizations or projects operating under a fiscal sponsor with tax exempt status under IRS Section 501(c)(3) are also eligible.
  • Applications from faith-based organizations for programs or projects that serve all members of the community as applicable to the project and do not require participation in religious activity for receipt of services are eligible.

Size of Grants

GHF UPstream seeks both large and small proposals.  The amount of funds sought should be reflective of the size of your project and the work to be accomplished.  Grant awards will range from $500 – $10,000; in 2018 awards ranged from $1,450-$10,000. The maximum grant for any proposal is $10,000.  GHF UPstream cannot fund 100% of any project; applicants may not submit applications seeking 100% project support.

Grant Timeline

  • April 1, 2019: Application available.
  • August 1, 2019: All application materials must be submitted through the online application system by 4:00pm.
  • Applicants will be notified of their status on or before December 1, 2019.
  • Proposed projects may take place at any time during the grant year beginning January 1, 2020 and ending December 31, 2020.  Only projects taking place during the stated grant year will be considered for this round of funding.

What We Do Not Fund

  • Advertising
  • Capital campaigns
  • Direct lobbying to influence legislation or funding appropriations
  • Individuals
  • National and statewide umbrella organizations that cannot demonstrate a local presence
  • New staff positions without a substantial plan for sustainability
  • Religious organizations for religious purposes
  • Retroactive projects

Technical Assistance

Applicants may request a draft review of their application materials by the Program Officer for Community Investment prior to submission. To submit a draft review, email all materials to be reviewed as an attachment to jstrechay@tfec.org.  Draft review requests should be limited to one review of each grant opportunity and staff will not be able to honor technical assistance requests made later than two weeks prior to the submission deadline.

Criteria for Evaluating Proposals

The GHF Advisory Committee makes all grantmaking decision and consists of a dedicated group of individuals committed to the betterment of the GHF service area.  Committee members evaluate each applicant submission and make valuable suggestions to ensure that work supported by GHF will make a difference. The GHF Advisory Committee may request additional information about the grant application prior to making an award or denial.


You may view, download, and/or print the application below.  To complete the application you will need to download, complete, and upload the application and all required materials to the GHF UPstream application link below within our online application system.

All applicants will follow three simple steps to complete an application to GHF UPstream:

  • Access, download, and/or print the GHF UPstream Grant Application here: 2019 GHF UPstream Application
  • This grant opportunity requires signatures and attachments.  See the Grant Application for full instructions.
  • Log into our online application system at:  Click here to begin a NEW application within the online application system  or  Click here to RETURN TO A SAVED application with the online application system.  New applicants will need to create an account login when using the online application system for the first time. All users will complete the Organization Contact Information, Application Information, and Attachments Tabs before reviewing materials for submission.  Some information provided in the online application system is identical to information provided in the grant application; please be sure that these answers correspond.  For this grant opportunity, all required materials will be uploaded within the Attachments Tab; materials will not be mailed or delivered.  Using the Review My Application Tab, review your materials for completeness, be sure to save and print a copy of all materials for yourself, and Submit.  Please note that TFEC staff cannot access or view your Draft Materials, and that you must select “Submit” by 4pm on the deadline date.

Helpful Hints: Accessing the Online Application System

  • To begin, you will enter the applicant organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number.  You will not will not be able to create an Organization Profile without it.
  • You may Save and Finish Later at any time when completing the Organization Profile and uploading documents.
  • Submit all materials prior to the deadline; the online application system will close after 4pm.

Notes to Remember

  • All materials, including letters of support if applicable, are to be uploaded and submitted online for this grant opportunity. Items requiring an original signature should be signed, scanned, and uploaded.
  • Only projects taking place during the stated grant year will be considered for this round of funding.
  • Applicants with current grant awards from TFEC who are delinquent or non-compliant in grant reporting requirements may have subsequent grant applications denied.
  • Questions are welcome at any time and  TFEC provides feedback on proposals that were not funded.

If using a Fiscal Sponsor for your application, you must also follow the directions below

  • Enter the Fiscal Sponsor Organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number, to access the online application system.
  • Your application must include a letter signed by the Executive Leader of the organization who is acting as your Fiscal Sponsor indicating their agreement to act as your Fiscal Sponsor. An original signature is required. This letter should be uploaded with your application attachments.
  • Within the “Application Information” tab of the online application system, you will be required to provide additional information about the organization who is acting as your Fiscal Sponsor under the “Fiscal Sponsor” Heading. Within this section, the Organization Name and Contact Information should be for the Organization and Executive Leader of the organization who is serving as your Fiscal Sponsor.  You will also complete all questions regarding registration with the PA Bureau of Charitable Organizations using your Fiscal Sponsor’s information.
  • For all other elements of the “Organization Contact Information” and “Application Information” tabs, your organization is the Applicant Organization and all other questions on the application should include information relating to your organization and not the organization who is acting as your Fiscal Sponsor.
  • Upload the IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter of your Fiscal Sponsor.
  • If applicable, upload the Board of Directors List for your organization AND your Fiscal Sponsor.
  • Upload the most recent 990 of your Fiscal Sponsor. If the applicant organization has a separate budget or financial statement that would assist the grantmaking committee in their review of an application, this document may also be uploaded.
  • The organization acting as your Fiscal Sponsor will receive notification of whether or not a grant has been awarded. If a grant is awarded the Fiscal Sponsor will be required to execute the Grant Agreement and will be sent the grant funds to be allocated to your organization appropriately. Your Fiscal Sponsor will be responsible for ensuring the funds are used as indicated in the original proposal and/or grant agreement.


If you should have any questions regarding TFEC grant opportunities or your application, contact Jennifer Strechay, Program Officer for Community Investment, at jstrechay@tfec.org or 717-236-5040.