The Yakima Valley Community Foundation awarded $372,000 in grants Thursday to 25 groups based in Yakima and Kittitas counties.

The competitive awards are part of $1.6 million that the foundation will have distributed by the end of the year, a $300,000 increase over 2011.

The bump is the result of $100,000 from a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiative and a bigger asset base. The group got a boost from five new funding sources, helping increase its assets by more than $4.6 million to about $48 million, according to a news release from Yakima Valley Community Foundation.

The largest recipient this year is the Davis Education Fund, which is getting $802,000 for college scholarships for Yakima Valley students. The other half of the $1.6 million went to the competitive grants and a long list of other entities.

The competitve grants being awarded Thursday range from $3,500 to $25,000, with a median of $15,000. The grants are available to groups focused in one of six areas: arts and culture; basic needs; education; environment and animals; health and wellness; and neighborhoods and communities.

The foundation received more than 62 applications competing for the latest round of funding, said Sarah Bain, the foundation’s interim grants director.

CEO Linda Moore said she wants the foundation to provide more support for groups during the application process.

“A lot of the time the applications are more complex than people realize,” Moore said.

The competitive grants are funded from the interest of the foundation’s endowment, which was set up in 2004 as part of the sale of Providence Yakima Medical Center and Toppenish Community Hospital. Providence later became Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center.

Both the buyer, Health Management Associates of Naples, Fla., and the seller, Providence Health Systems, agreed to provide seed money for the foundation. Providence Health Systems paid about $8 million up front, while HMA agreed to pay $10 million over 10 years, Moore said.

The endowment is only one of many sources for the foundation’s assets.

“We give out a variety of grants funded in a variety of ways,” she said.

Money also comes from funds set up by donors to benefit specific organizations or fields of interest, and other sources.

Dan Catchpole can be reached at 509-759-7850 or dcatchpole@yakimaherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/dcatchpole.