Every year, the Princeton Area Community Foundation gives out thousands in grants to nonprofit organizations big and small that serve Mercer County. If you would like to be the recipient of a Greater Mercer grant, the group is holding an information session to review the application process as well as give tips on writing grants.

The next workshop will be held Wednesday, September 7, from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Princeton Area Community Foundation, 15 Princess Road, Lawrenceville. For more information, visit www.pacf.org or call 609-219-1800.

Greater Mercer Grants is a competitive program benefiting residents of Mercer County. The goal of the grants is to create change over time, meet immediate needs, and invest for long-term impact, all with a consideration of social justice.

The group accepts applications from registered nonprofit groups twice annually and gives the grants three months later. Fall 2016 proposals are due September 30.

But what exactly does the organization fund? The programs fall into two main categories: organizations that address the needs of low-income individuals and families, and those that build strong communities.

In the first category, the PACF offers program support of up to $25,000 for projects that make a sustainable difference in helping low-income people or families attain economic self sufficiency, education, health, housing nutrition, safety, supportive services, youth development, or other things.

The PACF also provides operating support up to $50,000 to organizations that demonstrate strong management, use of best practices, and other positive qualities. All grants are limited to groups that focus on serving Mercer County residents.

The second category, building strong communities, is geared towards projects that address planning, economic development, civic engagement, philanthropy, volunteerism, care of the environment, the arts, or other things that benefit the community. The PACF favors ongoing projects rather than one-time events.

To be eligible for a grant, a group must be a tax-exempt 501c3 organization and be registered with the state as a charity, unless they are a religious organization or school. The PACF selects based on the quality of the application, whether it is evidence based, how well success of the proposed approach is documented, how realistically it is budgeted, how well it is conceived and planned, how well researched it is, how people will benefit from the project, and other considerations.

Successful grants can be renewed for consecutive years.

The PACF does not fund building renovations, capital campaigns, fundraising appeals, scholarships, filed trips and sports, unless part of a larger educational effort, sponsorship of events, lobbying or political activities, fraternal and religious activities, or tax-supported programs and services.

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