Community Resilience to Shine at 2021 Great Charity Challenge: Grant Applications Open

Through the support of the equestrian industry and the local community, the Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) has acted as a catalyst for charitable giving over the last 11 years, distributing $14.8 million to 256 Palm Beach County non-profit organizations.

Photo courtesy Great Charity Challenge.

Founded by father/daughter team, Mark and Paige Bellissimo in 2009, the initiative came forward as a way to increase funding to local non-profits, following the 2008 economic crisis, at a time when donations were scarce. COVID-19 is once again challenging community resilience, replicating the challenging situation of 12 years ago.

“Experts in all fields agree that the lasting effects of COVID-19 will be felt for months and years to come,” comments event co-founder Mark Bellissimo. “Not holding this event in 2021 simply isn’t an option for our team at Equestrian Sport Productions and Wellington Equestrian Partners; we are going to make this happen!”


The application process to participate in the 2021 GCC will be open starting at noon on Monday, October 26, 2020, and will remain active through 5:00 PM on Sunday, November 15, 2020.

At stake? A chance to win up to $100,000 on Saturday, February 6, 2021 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

“Thanks to Equestrian Sport Productions generously covering all costs associated with the GCC, the event has been able to fundraise and re-distribute 100% of the funds back to local organizations,” mentions event co-founder Paige Bellissimo. “In addition to providing much needed funding, our strategy for 2020-2030 also involves capacity building, enabling and building invaluable partnerships, as well as concentrating on amplifying the event’s impact.”

Based on a community needs assessment with the county, in partnership with local agencies and in direct response to the unique setting surrounding COVID-19, the event’s 12th edition is committed to shifting a majority of its funding priorities towards local non-profits who are directly supporting and assisting the most vulnerable and affected populations in Palm Beach County.

The following non-profit categories will be eligible to be selected for funding in the main event, with a chance of receiving between $15,000 and up to $100,000: emergency health services; emergency children, family and senior services; emergency youth development and education support; emergency shelter and homeless services; emergency food support and emergency veteran services. The GCC board and vetting committee will also review non-profit organizations experiencing a critical expansion (50%+) of service delivery in response to increased demand following COVID-19.

Photo courtesy Great Charity Challenge.

Following the format of previous years and to guarantee transparency, up to twenty pre-vetted organizations will be randomly selected via the event’s famous lottery style drawings. Additional smaller grants will also be awarded, via a random selection process, to non-profits who do not meet the above criteria but pass the GCC’s vetting process. These grants will range between $1,000 and $10,000.

If you know of a deserving Palm Beach County-based charity, please have them visit the Great Charity Challenge website for additional information regarding application requirements and the event’s unique selection process.

Please note that the application process for the 2021 GCC is exclusively open from Monday, October 26, 2020, and will remain active through 5:00 PM on Sunday, November 15, 2020. To view how funding from the 2020 event impacted the community, click here. For additional event information, including information about the application process and sponsorship opportunities, click here.