The Leslie and Daniel Ziff Foundation: Grants for Dance

OVERVIEW:  The Leslie and Daniel Ziff Foundation gives very selectively to a small number of dance organizations, mainly, but not exclusively, in New York City.

IP TAKE: This is not a sizeable grantmaking operation and most grant seekers will not find much success here. However, Ziff and his wife have a strong interest in dance. The foundation has made some significant dance grants that hint at bigger things to come. Ziff does not have much of a web presence or a clear way to get in touch.


Daniel Ziff is the youngest of the three billionaire Ziff brothers. Together the brothers are worth around $15 billion and while they are still very much engaged in the business world, they started their philanthropy at an early age. The Leslie and Daniel Ziff Foundation has been fairly active in performing arts grantmaking over the years, making it one of Ziff's preferred areas, along with conservation and more recently, health.   

One of Ziff's first grants in performing arts was to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. He wrote his first check of $25,000 to the institution back in 1997. These donations have increased pretty steadily, eventually landing at $1 million annually for a few years in row.

The Leslie and Daniel Ziff Foundation (formerly the Daniel Ziff Foundation) prioritized dance. This shift seems to have been triggered by Ziff's wife Leslie, who now serves as the director of the foundation. Leslie is passionate about dance, having received a BFA in dance. Leslie is on the board of Rosie's Theater Kids, a performing arts education program founded by Rosie O'Donnell. She is also on the board of American Ballet Theatre. Both institutions are located in New York, a preferred location for the foundation's grantmaking.

American Ballet Theatre received $1,085,000 in the past and Rosie's Theater Kids has received a solid stream of money as well. The foundation also gave $175,000 to Dynamic Forms Inc./Mark Degarmo and Dancers, establishing a 16 week dance residency at a Manhattan public school. As the foundation's grantmaking deepens in this area, it is possible that dance education will become more of a priority. 

Moving away from New York, Polaris Dance Theatre in Portland, Oregon received a 3-year gift of $75,000 and an additional $200,000 from the foundation. Much like with Ziff's other gifts in this area, it appears to have been initiated by Leslie who is an honorary board member of Polaris. 

The Ziffs’ grantmaking in this area is definitely worth watching, particularly as Leslie continues to direct the foundation towards more dance organizations not only in New York, but across the country.  


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The Leslie and Daniel Ziff Foundation
350 Park Ave. 4th Fl
New York, NY 10022