Changemaker Grants

Do you have an idea for changing the world — or at least your corner of it?

For more than 25 years, the United Way has been providing small grants — up to $2,500 — to help ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things to help their neighborhoods and their community.

Since 1995, United Way has provided grant money for 825 different projects that help to build stronger connections between people and that fill an important need — from starting a neighborhood cleanup program to establishing a community garden to providing hygiene items for the region’s homeless.

You don’t have to be part of an established non-profit organization to apply for a Changemaker Grant (formerly the Community Building Mini-Grants Program). These grants go to all-volunteer groups with annual budgets of less than $40,000 that have one thing in common: they have great ideas for building and helping their community. So if you are a member of a neighborhood association, a group of concerned parents, or a small group looking to do big things for your community, we urge you to contact us and apply. The United Way team will help you get started.


Grant Criteria

Projects should be engaging, community driven, solutions-focused, and foster unity through community action. Volunteer groups should identify creative solutions to problems in our communities. Projects should also have the potential for long-term impact.
Changemaker projects should be working towards supporting one of the following (with rare exceptions):

  • Health - To create an environment where residents, families, and communities can access the support they need to maintain or improve their health and well-being
  • Education - To improve student outcomes and engage families in the education of their children so children have the opportunity for educational attainment and life success
  • Financial stability - To connect individuals to opportunities that provide a pathway for economic mobility, ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty
  • Basic needs - To provide direct assistance to those in urgent need of basic necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, toiletries, shelter, safety, etc.

To be eligible for Changemaker Grants, groups and organizations must:

  • Be all-volunteer
  • Have an annual budget/income of $40,000 or less
  • Offer projects that are specific, small in scale and with a realistic plan to improve our local community
  • Have an all-inclusive membership and mission, i.e., does not exclude people on the basis of gender, race, religious differences, etc.
  • Be based in New Bedford, Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Freetown, Mattapoisett, Marion, Rochester, or Wareham

How we define a group

  • An established group made up of 3 or more people
  • A newly formed group made up of 3 or more people
  • Groups can be made up of children and youth, but must have at least 1 adult member
  • Can be  a “Friends of” group as long as the group can make the case for the need and the distinction is clear
  • Groups should not be a committee or task force of a larger coalition, initiative, collaboration, or project at another non-profit organization or business

Projects should...

  • Provide creative solutions to issues that are engaging, community driven, and foster unity through action
  • Raise awareness for a specific area of concern
  • Be small in scale, but have the potential for long-term impact
  • Be specific, innovative and achievable within 1 year
  • Engage citizens to address a need or issue of concern aligned with a United Way focus area

 All funds are disbursed on a reimbursement only basis. Legal incorporation 501(c)(3) is NOT required.

Beyond the Grant

United Way of Greater New Bedford is a leader in promoting volunteerism throughout the region. Through Changemaker Grants, all-volunteer groups are empowered to create positive change by identifying needs in their communities. In addition to the grants, Changemaker groups are further supported with skill-building workshops, networking opportunities, and the ability to recruit new volunteers to assist with their projects through Volunteer SouthCoast.

Next Grant Cycle

 We recently awarded our 2023 grants. Please check back in early 2024 for the next opportunity to apply.


Applications are accepted at the beginning of each year. Check back in January for more information.

No, you don’t. You can be a member of a neighborhood association, a group of concerned parents, or a small group looking to do big things in Greater New Bedford. As long as you have at least 3 members and are fully volunteer run, you can apply.

There are some things we are not able to fund through Changemaker Grants. These include:  

  • Salaried or stipends for group members
  • Rent or utilities
  • Food – for sale or nonessential to the project
  • T-shirts and other promotional items that you plan to sell for fundraising purposes
  • Office equipment- computers, printers, laptops, etc.
  • Paid advertising
  • Insurance, Security, Police/Fire Detail
  • Application/Registration/Membership Dues/Fees
  • Scholarships, Pageants, Contests etc.
  • School-based field trips
  • Projects that are in and of themselves fundraising
  • Capital Improvements
  • All funds are disbursed on a reimbursement only basis. Groups must submit reimbursement requests via United Way’s CommunityForce platform over the course of the funding cycle.
  • Funded projects/events must begin after the date of award decision of April 8, 2022 and reach completion by April 2023.
  • Approved funds will be made available for reimbursement as of April 14, 2022
  • If you applied for funding from United Way of Greater New Bedford the previous year(s), you are eligible to submit a new application as long as you completed your previous project and submit a final progress report to United Way. Your group must have an all-inclusive membership, i.e., does not exclude people on the basis of gender, race, religious differences, etc.


Current Grantees

This year, $28,304 was awarded to 13 all-volunteer groups to complete projects addressing the needs of the homeless, encouraging healthy lifestyles with community gardens, providing accessibility for all, promoting reading to young children, and more.

The following groups were awarded funding this year:

Dog Park Association of Wareham - $1,800
Grow Greater New Bedford - $2,500
New Bedford Rowing Center, Inc. (NBRC) - $2,500
Rise Up - $2,000
Rochester Affordable Housing - $2,500
Soulflower Yoga and Wellness - $2,000
Southcoast Condo Community Garden - $2,500
Swift PTO - $1,500
Swifts Beach Improvement Association - $2,500
The Paskamansett Project -  $2,500
Village Hoops - $1,504
Walt's Mobile Closet - $2,500
West End Tennis Association - $2,000


If you are a current grantee needing to submit for reimbursement, you can submit reimbursement forms through the CommunityForce portal at


For more information about Changemaker Grants please contact Sarah Rose at 508-994-9625, ext. 218 or