What Does the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation Fund in the Bay Area?

One locally focused grantseeker that Bay Area nonprofits should know is the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation. Not only does it give priority to California groups, but it’s headquartered in San Francisco and accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry throughout the year.

The foundation has two grant cycles per year, one in May/June and the other in November. Although you can submit LOIs at any time, there are deadlines for each round of funding, so check its website for upcoming deadlines. Here are a few insights into the foundation's recent giving.

Environment & Human Health

Unlike many local funders, this one lumps health and the environment into one category. Of course, this isn’t terribly radical, since the two are obviously interconnected, but it’s important to understand the types of environment/health causes that Heller likes to fund.

  • Preventing harm to humans from toxic substances
  • Adhering to good environmental policies to advance economic gains
  • Suitability in agriculture and food systems

Recent Bay Area grantees in this category include Oakland’s As You Sow, which works to prevent harm to human health from GMOs, nanomaterials, and lead in food; and San Francisco Planning and Urban Research for its Regional Food Systems and Urban Agriculture program. Most of these recent grants have ranged from $10,000 to $75,000. Direct any inquiries about this grantmaking program to the foundation’s executive director, Bruce Hirsch.

Symphonic and Chamber Music

Something that sets Heller’s music funding apart from other local funders is that it’s all about symphonic and chamber music. Heller funds community music centers, schools, institutes and community-based ensembles to provide scholarship and program assistance. It also helps these groups diversify and increase their audiences, as well as improve their own fundraising capacity.

Recent local grants went to the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Cypress String Quartet, and the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. These grants tend to hover around $20,000 to $25,000 each. You can direct questions about the foundation’s music program to the senior program officer, Stan Hutton.

Environmental & Arts Education  

Heller’s education program is closely tied to the previous two because grants fund environmental and arts programs for children and youth. The funder supports programs for both teachers and artists to improve their teaching skills in the arts and environmental topics and also efforts to advance these types of programs in general.

Heller recently funded San Francisco’s Aim High for its environmental home program, the Alameda County Office of Education for its arts-centered integrated learning program, and the California Shakespeare Theater for the professional development of teaching artists. Lately, these grants have mostly landed between $20,000 and $40,000. Again, Stan Hutton is your best point of contact for this grantmaking program.

To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation: Bay Area Grants.