A Trust for the Female Military Population (and Potentially Other Women in Need)

Credit: Technical Sergeant William Greer, United States Air Force (Public Domain)The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust was established in 1989 to carry on the giving legacy of May and Stanley Smith, who made their fortune primarily in the world of iron ore mining in Malaysia. The mission of the trust is to support “organizations that offer opportunities to children and youth; adults and families; elders; and people with disabilities that enrich the quality of life, promote self-sufficiency, and assist individuals in achieving their highest potential."

The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust distributes grants to four different groups in need: Foster Youth, Elders, Veterans, and People with Disabilities. Girls and Women are of course are part of all four of these, but when it come to explicit gender-oriented giving, it's the female veteran population—and more broadly, women living within military communities—that get earmarked support from this trust.

The trust provides a rigorous assessment of the needs of each of these four populations, and the trust’s goals in each area, as well as discussions of what a successful program would therefore look like. Overall, the May and Stanley Charitable Trust seeks to support programs that provide “dignity, agency, and self-sufficiency”—a good blueprint for how to present your program serving girls or women. A girl/women-centric program could potentially fit in all four areas, but be sure to read these rubrics comprehensively before attacking the trust’s application in order to understand how to best position your work.

And attack the application you must, because while it begins with an LOI open to all, it is a rigorous one, requiring specific outcomes past and future, as well as comprehensive financial reporting. The trust explicitly states that start-ups, emerging organizations and new programs are not eligible for its support, and this makes perfect sense once you delve into the LOI—there is no way a new organization or program could discuss financials and recent outcomes with the rigor this funder requires. If you have been around long enough, still be aware that the trust ideally looks for organizations with yearly operating budgets of at least $250,000 and those with less than 70% of costs supported by government funding. (The application provides a notably thoughtful section in which to discuss your organization’s relationship with government funding, and why private support is important to your program/organization.)

The good news if you check these boxes: the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust makes healthy grants, typically ranging from $30,000–$100,000 per year, and will give multi-year gifts for both program and general operating costs.

The other specificity is geography. The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust explicitly directs its giving to the Western U.S., though its definition of the West is broad, defining it as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. (For the record, the trust also gives to British Columbia, Canada.) While the executed work must be done in these states, the trust’s giving history shows that the organization itself can potentially be based elsewhere, with work that is then targeted in the trust’s focused states.

Recent grantees specifically working with women veterans include the Downtown Women's Center (Los Angeles, CA) "to provide housing placement and intensive case management to chronically homeless female veterans in Los Angeles" with $75,000. The trust also granted $200,000 over two years to the United States Veterans Initiative (Los Angeles, CA) "to provide transitional housing and supportive services to homeless female veterans."

The trust also recently funded two related programs that, while not directly supporting female veterans, certainly disproportionately impact female populations in military culture. It granted $75,000 to Human Rights Watch (New York, NY) "to address the effects of wrongful discharge retaliation on service members who report sexual assault in the military." The trust also gave $150,000 to the National Military Family Association (Alexandria, VA) "to support military spouse education and professional training opportunities."

The May and Stanley Smith’s Charitable Trust’s LOI is rolling; if you’re ready for its rigor, you can apply at any time.

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