C. Louis Meyer Family Foundation

OVERVIEW: The C. Louis Meyer Family Foundation is a small, family-run funder that puts a priority on giving in the Chicago area, as well as parts of North and South Carolina.

FUNDING AREAS: Poverty relief, education, health, religion, community affairs, arts, youth

IP TAKE: Meyer Family Foundation grants tend to be small, but lots of different program areas are considered for funding in the city of Chicago and Chicago suburbs.

PROFILE: Established in 1946 by C. Louis Meyer and Mary Luman Meyer, the C. Louis Meyer Family Foundation assists nonprofits working to alleviate poverty, advance education, promote health, and extend the influence of religion. C. Louis Meyer was the founder of the Omaha, Nebraska-based Concrete Engineering Company (later known as Ceco Steel Products Corporation), which revolutionized the process of reinforcing concrete. The funder aims to “further public welfare through the relief of poverty and suffering, the advancement of education, the promotion of health, and the extension of the influence of religion.” Grantmaking areas of interest are education, community and civic affairs, health, arts, religion and youth nonprofits.

Across all of the Meyer program areas, smaller nonprofits are typically given preference over larger ones. Meyer’s strategy is to give broadly, rather than deeply, giving small amounts to various organizations instead of large amounts to just a couple causes. In recent years, the largest amounts of Meyer support have gone toward education. Civic and community programs comprise the next most supported program area, followed by health and research. The foundation provides lesser support to animal welfare.

In the past, the funder has awarded around $250,000 per year in grants, although this has been declining. Since 2015, the foundation has only accepted applications from previously funded organizations. These organizations are limited to requests of $5,000 or less. Review the funder’s 10 Year Summary of Giving page for more details. Past grants have been made for capital needs and specific programs; however, the foundation does not support seed money requests, start-up organizations, political activities, or individuals. Grantmaking is limited to the Sandhills area of North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Greater Chicagoland area. Since the foundation was established, almost all of the Trustees have been direct descendants of the founders. These are the locations that the Meyer descendants reside.

The funder accepts applications from previously funded organizations between August 1 and October 31. Direct general grantmaking inquiries to the Foundation Administrator, Carol Barrett, at 224-333-0100 or via online form.  

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