OVERVIEW: Overbrook's work is divided into two categories: human rights, which includes LGBT issues, and the environment.
IP TAKE: Overbrook has a particularly exclusionary approach to grantmaking. A small number of repeat grantees are awarded funds each year, and unsolicited inquiries or proposals are explicitly discouraged.
PROFILE: Established in 1948, the Overbrook Foundation was founded by philanthropists Helen and Frank Altschul. In 2001, the New York-based foundation, which had been initially focused on environmental issues, began to "engage professional staff" and formalize its mission as “a progressive family foundation that supports organizations advancing human rights and conserving the natural environment.” It is currently led by foundation President and CEO Stephen A. Foster, who also serves as co-chair of the influential Civil Marriage Collaborative, a network of LGBTQ funders established by Proteus Fund. The foundation invests in the environment and human rights.
Overbrook conducts its LGBTQ funding through its human rights program, which maintains a gender rights initiative.. Until recently, it focused almost exclusively on marriage equality; however, the foundation has "moved towards support of organizations opposing the inappropriate use of religious exemptions to discriminate and threaten gender equality." Past grantees include the Civil Marriage Collaborative, Freedom to Marry, Lambda Legal, the New York Civil Liberties Union, Forward Together, and Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE). Internationally, Overbrook prioritizes grantmaking in Latin America. Past international LGBTQ grantees include the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
The foundation has explicitly stated that it "will not accept unsolicited requests for support from organizations not currently funded by the Foundation," and Foster himself stated that Overbrook "continues to discourage letters of inquiry although we remain interested in learning about organizations and projects that, at some future point, could be candidates for Foundation grantmaking."
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