Supporting charitable causes and community development in Columbia County, NY since 1998.

Providing philanthropic support for local community goals


While the Foundation is open to considering any worthy project that meets its basic guidelines, it concentrates its grant-making in the following areas:

Health Care
Community Development
Education and Youth
Arts and Culture
Historic Preservation
Environmental Protection
Agriculture and Food Security


From the beginning, HRBT Foundation focused on not-for-profit
enterprises that themselves engaged the larger community around
them. The local hospital and community college were obvious
places to make dollars work for the general good, and to date
they have received the largest single portions of the grant funds
distributed by the Foundation.

Find out more from past recipients how the HRBT Foundation has helped them achieve their goals.

Current News and Initiatives

Examples of recent activities enabled by grants from HRBT Foundation as described in press releases and grant reports from recipient organizations.


HRBT Foundation takes pride in both the range and depth of community improvements that have been enabled over nearly a quarter-century of grant-making serving Columbia County and surrounding areas.

We also salute the scores of local and regional organizations who have carried out this work with the help of funds from the Foundation.

To enlarge understanding of the Foundation’s principles and activities both among grantees and the public-at-large, we are providing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our grant-making. If you have additional questions that you feel merit inclusion, please let us know.

Hudson River Bank & Trust was acquired by First Niagara in 2005, and then in 2016 First Niagara was in turn acquired by Key Bank. So any banking materials in the name of Hudson River are nearly 20 years out of date. However accounts that have carried over should still be traceable through Key Bank, which recommends that anyone with questions visit a local branch representative with whatever documentation you have. Key Bank Customer Service is reachable at 1-800-539-2968.
The HRBT Foundation board meets regularly throughout the year, with in-person meetings generally on a quarterly basis, and remote meetings monthly to reach decisions on smaller grants that hew closely to our demonstrated giving priorities. Some applications may be held over to gather more information or to discuss at an in-person meeting.
We do—enthusiastically—so long as an organization has verifiable non-profit status and addresses needs or issues that are relevant to our stated priorities. For smaller community organizations seeking grants of less than $1,000, we offer a streamlined application form through this website.
Verifiable community non-profits that otherwise meet the qualifications for a grant can utilize the services of a Fiscal Agent, another non-profit holding valid 501(c)3 status that is willing to receive the grant funds, distribute them, and report on their use on behalf of the applying organization. The Fiscal Agent will need to submit the same organizational and financial information as the applicant.
The Foundation makes grants from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars to its applicants each year, with the majority of grants falling between $1,000 and $5,000. While grants in the $10,000-$30,000 range are not uncommon, they are frequently disbursed over a two or three-year period. In evaluating applications, the board looks at the size of the request in relation to the organization’s budget, and the degree to which other funders support the organization’s work. While occasionally the Foundation will serve as a sole or lead funder, our default position is that multiple funders demonstrate both the strength of the project and its degree of community support.
For applications under $1,000 the form identifies the necessary information and the optional submissions. For applications over $1,000 the Foundation is requesting information that will help us determine the organizational strength of the applicant and assess the likelihood of project success. If you are unable to provide any of the requested information, please explain why and detail any mitigating circumstances.
We recognize that only organizations of a certain size typically have audited financial statements. For others a review statement is sufficient, and if that is not available please provide the organization’s compiled financial statement for the most recent full-year period.
Yes, in some circumstances, so long as the project has not been completed and the grant, if approved, funds an identifiable set of initiatives that can be reported on separately. The Foundation does not provide look-back or after-the-fact funding.
No. Grants are funded at a level the board considers appropriate to the project and to the availability of Foundation resources at any given time.
Yes. The grantee must specify that the Foundation funds will be used only for the purposes stated in the grant proposal, will be expended within a one-year period from the date of grant, and will retain accurate accounting records of expenditures under the grant. Grantees also agree to provide a report to the Foundation of the completed grant activities.
Depending on when the application is submitted in the Foundation’s grant cycle, it is usually reasonable to expect a response within 4-8 weeks of submission. If more information is required or the board has questions when reviewing the application, more time may be required.
Yes, but…. Many of our grantees make successful applications year after year but typically for new projects. Rarely will the Foundation fund the same project for successive years, believing that our best role is to help establish programs that, when they succeed, go on to build their own continuing support. In this way the Foundation can add to the variety and number of programs available to residents of the area. We look especially favorably on requests where we can help expand the capacity of the sponsoring organization in a sustainable way.
Generally we encourage recipient organizations to make their own grant announcements, believing they are in a better position to explain the importance of the grant in the context of their overall work. However we do ask grantees to share their press releases with us ahead of release so that we can confirm they align with our understanding of the grant. As the HRBT Foundation website demonstrates, we also post selected press releases and grant reports to extend public understanding of the important work of our grantees are doing and its positive community impacts.
Grant decisions are made by the HRBT Foundation Board of Directors. Board members are Carl Florio, Marilyn Herrington, Tony Jones, Joseph Phelan and Sidney Richter, all of whom served as executives or board members of Hudson River Bank & Trust Company at the time the Foundation was created in 1998.
For two reasons. One to confirm that the grant funds have been spent as intended and to see if outcomes were effective. Two to create an opportunity for the recipient organization to assess and evaluate the work accomplished with an eye to making improvements in the future.
Grants reports are due at the conclusion of the funded project, or 12 months after the grant, whichever is sooner. Organizations that fail to provide an acceptable grant report will not be considered for future funding.
The Foundation holds assets in excess of $20 million and since inception has provided more than $17 million in grants.
In an average year the Foundation currently makes about 100 grant awards
By and large the Foundation focuses its grant-making on Columbia County and immediately surrounding areas. We also support regional organizations, such as the Northeast NY Region of the Red Cross, that provide services or resources accessed by Columbia County residents.


The Hudson River Bank & Trust Company Foundation was established by the Hudson River Bank & Trust Company at the time of its conversion to a public company in 1998. Following the merger of Hudson River Bank & Trust Company into First Niagara, the Foundation continues its historic mission of philanthropic community support as an independent organization now known as HRBT Foundation.