OVERVIEW: With most grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000, Compton is one of the smaller global security grant makers. Compton supports U.S. based global security organizations working domestically, and while it doesn't have a specific geographic focus, it does not support firms exclusively working in a single city or state.
IP TAKE: Compton often seeks visionaries in the peace and national security arena who want to be part of something bigger than themselves. This doesn't mean running roughshod over others, but rather embracing different voices and views and reaching across boundaries in a collaborative effort to find common ground.
PROFILE: When Dorothy and Randolph Compton established their charitable trust in 1946, they did so on the belief that “world peace would only be possible if the conditions that brought about war could be eliminated.” The trust was converted to the Compton Foundation in 1973 and remains a progressive grantmaker with an expanded and evolving definition of global security.
Compton is a small but ambitious foundation. Its website states, "the status quo is not shifting rapidly enough toward a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.” For grant seekers, this suggests that Compton seeks big picture ideas and projects that push the envelope of peace and national security. Compton supports such efforts through its Transformative Leadership grant program.
The foundation notes that its leadership grants tend to fall into four main subgroups including: building movements, aligning movement leadership, grassroots field building, and systems change. While these subgroups inform a pattern of giving, as Compton's site points out, they are not definitive demarcations of what the foundation will and will not fund. The Compton board specifically seeks out projects that are "driven by a strong sense of social purpose and have a searing passion for making a difference." Compton supports proposals that reflect a "searing passion."
“We’re really looking for organizations that, as a way in which they approach their work, see themselves as part of a larger movement," Executive Director Ellen Friedman told us. "That they recognize that they need to be working in a collaborative fashion and that their leadership has the capacity to do that, and that they’re building that pipeline of collaborative leadership throughout the organization.”
The Compton Foundation seeks to support institutions that provide leadership training that produces those qualities. It also seeks to help networks of leaders who collaborate together to find "transformative" solutions.
Compton is always on the lookout for new grantees whose work aligns with its goals. To encourage potential grantees to introduce themselves to the foundation, Compton has a streamlined online inquiry system that its staff reviews regularly.
- Ellen Friedman, Executive Director
- Jennifer L. Sokolove, Program Director