Medical Center Fund Has Helped Neighborhood Nonprofits for Decades

For nearly three decades, the Medical Center Neighborhood Fund has supported nonprofit organizations doing important work in Washington Heights and Inwood by awarding grants funded entirely by donations from employees of Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC). 

“This is just one of the ways to show we are part of this community and we care about it while establishing better relations with the organizations doing good work here,” Ross A. Frommer, vice president and associate dean of the CUIMC Office of Government and Community Affairs, told CUIMC Today.

Employees of NewYork-Presbyterian and New York State Psychiatric Institute also contribute to the fund. 

To be considered for a grant, local organizations face a rigorous application process that includes a site visit from a faculty member or administrative staff volunteer. These visits are a crucial part of the process because they allow the medical center to get an up-close look at operations before deciding which ones will receive a grant of up to $3,000 each.

Since 1987, more than $2 million has been collected and distributed by the fund, Frommer said. The funds have represented a lifeline to the small, community-based organizations that may lack federal or state support. Last year alone, $60,000 was given to nearly 50 organizations to support senior centers, after-school programs, and programs that help domestic abuse survivors. Funds also helped purchase books, sports equipment, and food for children.

See the full list of 2018 grant recipients.

Want to see these efforts flourish? Employees are invited to make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal or sign up for payroll deductions to make regular contributions. Learn more about the ways that you may give. Those who are interested in volunteering can find out more by writing to

“It’s the message of think globally, act locally,” Sandra Harris, associate vice president for government and community affairs, said of the fund. “We recognize that there are a lot of competing needs out there and other charitable organizations doing good work. But the fact is that through this fund we get to touch the lives of people in our immediate community—our neighbors—and we get to see the effects in real time.”