A Look at the Max Factor Family Foundation’s Conservation Grantmaking

Based in Los Angeles, Max Factor Family Foundation is a private family funder established in the name of the late philanthropist, who started the Max Factor cosmetics company. Max Factor himself is considered the “father of makeup,” due to his vision and artistry as a creator of signature looks for actresses during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Founded in 1941, the Max Factor Family Foundation (MFFF) commonly gives in the areas of the environment, education, health and human services. It recently made headlines in the Los Angeles area for a $50,000 research grant, made in partnership with the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.

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MFFF made the $50,000 pledge to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to support strategies for sustainable groundwater management. The state of California has been struggling through serious drought in recent years, and this Caltech program is aimed at figuring out some solutions. In fact, the Pacific Policy Institute of California says that this drought has been the driest three-year stretch in record-keeping history. With MFFF’s grant money, the group will be able to create and implement state and local regulations about groundwater management practices and inform policymaking.

According to one MFFF trustee, Jenny Factor,

The Max Factor Family Foundation is proud to provide support to Caltech’s groundbreaking effort to model precise, innovative solutions to the state’s current water resource crisis. We were impressed by Caltech’s interest in testing positive incentive-based implementation strategies and their focus on potential areas of high return and impact (especially in the state’s agricultural belt). Caltech Social Science Experimental Lab has a reputation for effective economic modeling, and a scholarly multi-disciplinary approach. Our foundation’s funding not only makes this program possible but also extends its scope. Caltech will share their results with other agencies and policymakers providing a prospective "ripple effect" that we hope may reach even beyond local and regional policy enactment.

In a recent year, MFFF claimed over $12.7 million in assets and $512,500 in total giving, across 24 grants between $4,000 and $225,000 each. Six descendants of the makeup mogul established the foundation over 70 years ago, and the foundation has been working with the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles since 2008. According to their arrangement, the community foundation provides consultant services and has helped MFFF develop a grant award focused on an annual topic area.

For 2016, the topic was the drought in California, so for MFFF the year is all about the environment and conservation. But subsequent years' topics could very well be any that fall within the realm of education, health, or human services. It is not yet known what Max Factor’s 2017 topic will be. In November 2015, the foundation awarded a $50,000 program grant to the Los Angeles-based Chai Lifeline, a Jewish international organization that provides emotional, social and financial resources to seriously ill children and their families and communities. Although this is an international nonprofit, the grant went towards the local implementation of an after-school program in Los Angeles.

The bulk of MFFF’s grantmaking is focused in the Los Angeles area and sticks to support for vulnerable populations, like youth and seniors. The foundation does not have a website or publicize its grantmaking procedures, however, you can try to reach the foundation at 310-274-8193 or 310-601-2800. Although Max Factor’s family members continue to occupy leadership roles at the foundation, MFFF’s grant proposal process is handled by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, which you can learn more about in our full profile about this local funder.