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Greater Harrisburg Community Foundation UPstream


You know your community and its challenges best—GHCF 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 Community Foundation (GHCF) 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 GHCF service area of Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, and/or Perry Counties and the Dillsburg Area of Northern York County.
  • GHCF 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 2022 up to $250,000 in grant funds will be available through GHCF UPstream. 

GHCF 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 GHCF UPstream is the support of any grant application that best presents upstream solutions to any area of community need. In addition, GHCF is empowered by a range of special funds which serve to collectively strengthen our area communities through shared themes and also welcomes 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. Projects to enhance Camp Hill Borough parks provided by youth organizations such as Scout programs or other youth organizations; programs & projects that focus upon or nurture access to early childhood education within Camp Hill. 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 Community 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 Community 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 GHCF 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 either be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, a nonprofit organization as recognized by the IRS as such, or have a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization act as a fiscal sponsor for the proposed project.
  • 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

GHCF 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 2020 awards ranged from $2,000-$10,000. The maximum grant for any proposal is $10,000. Grants are awarded for one year. This grant opportunity will not fund 100% of any project.

Grant Timeline

  • June 1, 2022: Application available.
  • September 1, 2022: 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, 2022
  • Proposed projects may take place at any time between January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023

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

Criteria for Evaluating Proposals

The GHCF Advisory Committee makes all grantmaking decisions and consists of a dedicated group of individuals committed to the betterment of the GHCF service area.  The GHCF Advisory Committee may request additional information about the grant application prior to making an award or denial.


Follow Three Simple Steps to Apply

  1. ACCESS, download and/or print the GHCF UPstream Grant Application here:
  2. LOGIN into the TFEC online application system and begin or update your online profile here:
  1. UPLOAD all required materials to the Attachments Tab within the online application system and select submit before 4 pm on the application deadline. This grant opportunity requires attachments. See the Grant Application for full instructions.  All required materials will be uploaded within the Attachments Tab; materials should not be mailed or delivered.

Helpful Hints: Using 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 be able to create an Organization Profile without it.
  • You may Save and Finish Later at any time.
  • Some information provided in the online application system is identical to information provided in the grant application; be sure that these answers correspond.
  • The grant application and all attachments, including letters of support if applicable, are to be uploaded and submitted using the online application system.
  • Save a copy of all materials for yourself prior to selecting Submit.
  • Submit all materials prior to the deadline; the online application system will automatically close after 4pm.
  • TFEC staff cannot access or view your Draft Materials.

Notes to Remember

  • 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.

Applicants using a Fiscal Sponsor for this application must also follow the directions below


  • Because your Fiscal Sponsor is the organization who has 501c3 status, you will need to enter the Fiscal Sponsor Organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number, when beginning your work in the online application system.


  • Within the “Application Information” tab of the online application system, you will see a “Fiscal Sponsor” Heading. Within this section, the Organization Name and Contact Information should be for the Organization and Executive Leader of the organization serving as your Fiscal Sponsor.
  • Because your Fiscal Sponsor is the organization who is registered with the Commonwealth, answer all questions about 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, the name of your organization/project is the Applicant Organization and all other questions should be answered using your organization/project information rather than your Fiscal Sponsor.


  • Your application must include a letter signed (digital or original) by the Executive Leader of the organization who is serving as your Fiscal Sponsor stating their agreement to do so. This letter will be uploaded with your application attachments.
  • Upload the IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter of your Fiscal Sponsor.
  • Upload the Board of Directors List for your Fiscal Sponsor AND if your organization/project has its own Leadership Team list, please also upload.
  • Upload the most recent 990 of your Fiscal Sponsor. If your organization/project has a separate budget or financial statement that would assist the grantmaking committee in their review of an application, please also upload.


  • The organization serving 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.


All applicants are invited to contact our Community Investment Team, to discuss a proposed project or application.

Applicants may request a draft review of their application materials by our Community Investment Team prior to submission. To submit a draft review, email all materials to be reviewed as an attachment to  Draft review requests are limited to one review of each grant opportunity and submissions must be received at least two weeks prior to the application deadline.

Questions regarding our grant opportunities?

get in touch with us or
view the grantseeker FAQ