What the Mertz Gilmore Foundation is Doing for Neighborhoods & Dance in New York

The Mertz Gilmore Foundation is perhaps best known for its climate change grants, especially ones related to finding alternatives to coal-fired power plants. However, this New York-based funder is also working in its hometown on a few other causes.

Related: Mertz Gilmore Foundation: New York City Grants

Joyce Mertz and her parents, LuEsther and Harold established the Mertz Foundation in 1959, and it was later renamed to the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation and is now known as the Mertz Gilmore Foundation. The Mertz family founded Publishers Clearing House, which grew from just a few mass mailings to become a marketing and sweepstakes legend.

Low Income Neighborhoods

Mertz Gilmore focuses on low-income neighborhoods in its New York City Communities program. These grants have provided support to community-based organizations working on multiple fronts, provide technical assistance, and support collaborative campaigns. However, the foundation isn’t currently accepting new inquiries for groups that address multiple issues or partner with other nonprofits or city agencies.

Inquiries are still being considered for technical assistance and a limited number of collaborative campaigns that can reach their goals within one to two years. Technical assistance generally comes in the form of law, planning, analysis, and advocacy assistance. The largest recent community grants from 2014 include $140,000 to the Fifth Avenue Committee, $150,000 to Make the Road New York, and $150,000 to the Pratt Center for Community Development.

New York Dance

The foundation supports groups that promote dance activity and visibility in the city, especially ones that draw in diverse artists and audiences. Joyce Mertz Gilmore was passionate about dance, so the staff and board continues to provide artists with technical and promotional support by commissioning pieces, staging works in progress, mounting full performance seasons, and funding outreach programs. Contemporary dance groups in the five boroughs are considered for grants.

Mertz Gilmore dance grants most frequently come in the form of general operating support for presenters of small to mid-size dance companies in the city. On a rarer basis, the foundation considers proposals for advocacy and support services projects to advance the dance field by improving conditions for individual dance artists. The largest recent dance grants from 2014 include $100,000 to the Danspace Project, $120,000 to Jacob’s Pillow Dance, and $60,000 to Aaron Davis Hall (Harlem Stage).

Applying for a Grant

Fortunately for grantseekers, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation does accept unsolicited letters of inquiry. NYC Communities letters should be sent via email to nyccommunities-program@mertzgilmore.org and questions should be directed to Rachael Young at ryoung@mertzgilmore.org. NYC Dance letters should be emailed to Leah Krauss at lkrauss@mertzgilmore.org. Letters must be three pages or fewer, and guarantee a response from the staff—hopefully one that includes an invitation to submit a full proposal.

The foundation awarded 37 grants totaling $1.76 million in April 2013 and 46 grants totaling $1.655 million in November 2012. At the end of 2013, the foundation reported over $6 million in total giving. It’s true that most Mertz Gilmore grants have gone toward climate change lately. But NYC community organizations have been seeing about seven to 10 grants per cycle and NYC dance organizations have received between five and 15 grants per cycle lately. The foundation has roughly $100 million in assets.

To get in touch with the staff with general questions, you can call 212-475-1137 or email info@mertzgilmore.org

Related:  Mertz Gilmore Foundation: Grants for Climate Change