Macy's Inc.: Grants for Dance

OVERVIEW: Macy’s Inc. funds philanthropic work related to arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and domestic violence. Grantmaking flows through the Macy’s Foundation for programs operating on a national scale, and through the corporation for local-level programming.

IP TAKE: Macy’s makes substantial and widespread contributions in the area of arts and culture; dance is a part of this grantmaking. Some of this happens through the foundation, but much more of it occurs through the corporation for local dance organizations, which is a more straight forward process offering an open application process.

PROFILE: Macy’s Inc., including Bloomingdales department stores, is a significant funder in the world of corporate philanthropy, both through a formal foundation (the Macy’s Foundation) and through the company itself (a program called My Macy's District Grants). Macy’s broadly seeks to “help create stronger, healthier places for [their] customers and associates to work and live.” Both the foundation and the corporation name the same five areas of philanthropic focus: arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS and “women’s issues” (with a primary focus on women’s health and domestic violence).

Dance grant seekers should not ignore Macy’s other funding priorities as dance initiatives that intersect with additional funding areas will likely receive more attention. This said, the majority Macy’s dance funding supports ballet programs. Grant seekers should also be aware that, ballet or otherwise, dance programs are more likely to garner support from Macy’s corporate side through its My Macy’s District Grants program, which supports local giving where most dance projects occur. In contrast, the Macy’s Foundation only supports national-level programming and does not accept unsolicited requests; it’s invite-only.

The My Macy’s District Grants program has funded $3.5 million in grants in 2015 and $1.5 million in 2016 to organizations across its five areas of focus. The My Macy’s District Grants not only gives a lot, they give flexibly. Organizations can apply via either an “Event” application or a “Program” application. Both are useful for dance organizations. Macy’s defines the Event category to include performances, and the Program category is for “ongoing program or general operations support.”

Grants range from about $10,000 to $50,000; however, grants can offer much more. Dance projects that promote audience development and community engagement have an advantage. Macy’s appears to support dance organizations with a track record of success in the performing arts. Macy’s also only finds 501(c)(3) dance programs that operates in or are engaged with a community in which Macy’s and/or Bloomingdales has a presence. Past grantees of both My Macy’s District Grants and the Macy’s Foundation include $290,000 to Artswave, $77,677 to the New York City Ballet and $25,000 to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), among many others.

The foundation accepts My Macy’s District Grants year round on a rolling basis. In contrast, Macy’s Foundation grants are by invitation only.

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