May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust supports the “dignity, agency, and self-sufficiency” of foster youth, the elderly, veterans and people with disabilities.

IP TAKE: The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust is focused on the Western U.S., including substantial support in the Bay Area. But within this geography, this funder is focused on specific populations in need. This funder also looks for proven success—programs that are well-established and already financially supported by others.

PROFILE: 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 trust’s support flows through four focus areas: Foster Youth, Elders, Veterans and  People with Disabilities. This means, of course, that your program must address the needs of at least one of these specific populations.

The other specificity is geography, which is probably good news if you're reading this. 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.)

The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust provides a rigorous assessment of the needs of all of the populations it supports, and therefore the trust’s goals in each area—as well as discussions of what a successful program would therefore look like. Be sure to read these rubrics comprehensively before attacking the trust’s application.

And attack it 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 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.

Past Bay Area grantees working with Foster Youth include California Youth Connection (Oakland, CA) "to develop foster youths’ leadership and advocacy skills" with $200,000 over two years. The trust also funded Child Advocates of Silicon Valley (Milpitas, CA) with $80,000 over two years "to provide middle school foster youth with trained volunteers to serve as advocates and mentors." In a previous year, across all states, the trust distributed $4,434,000 to 40 different organizations working with foster youth.

Past Bay Area grantees working with the Elderly include Bread & Roses (Corte Madera, CA) "to improve quality of life for elders in long-term care through high quality live entertainment" with $80,000 over two years. It also granted $80,000 over two years to LIFE ElderCare (Fremont, CA) "to provide supportive transportation to low-income elders with limited mobility." In a previous year, the trust distributed $3,555,000 to 41 different organizations working with the elderly.

Past Bay Area grantees working with Veterans include the Center of Investigative Reporting (Emeryville, CA) "to investigate and raise awareness of issues affecting veterans' lives and benefits" with $150,000. The trust also provided $100,000 to Homeward Bound of Marin (Novato, CA) "to provide housing and employment services to homeless veterans in Marin County." In total across all states in a past year, the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust distributed $3,635,000 to 34 programs in this sector.

In the trust’s People with Disabilities focus area, recent Bay Area grantees include Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (Berkeley, CA) "to provide sports, recreation, and outdoor adventures to people with physical and visual disabilities" with $25,000. It also gave $50,000 to the Community Living Campaign (San Francisco, CA) "to support and empower older adults to plan for their care needs in order to safely age-in-place." Overall in a past year, the trust gave $5,075,000 in this focus area to 40 organizations.

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.

PEOPLE:

  • Ruth Collins, Trustee
  • David Cuneo, Trustee
  • Daniel Piombo, Trustee 
  • Dan Gaff, Grants Manager