C. Louis Meyer Family Foundation: Chicago Grants

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. In the past, the funder has awarded around $250,000 per year in grants, although this has been declining.

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. Grantseekers enjoy open deadlines (applications are accepted anytime between January and October) and a straightforward online application form.

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.

Today, the Meyer Family Foundation funds education, community and civic affairs, health, arts, religion and youth nonprofits in 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. There are seven Board members today, all of which are family members.

Across all of the Meyer program areas, smaller nonprofits are 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, with $42,000, followed by health and research with $26,100. Rounding out the bottom, animal welfare saw $4,000 in support in a recent year's reporting. These figures paint a fairly accurate portrait of Meyer priorities over the past decade. Although this is a religiously focused funder, support for religious causes typically lags behind even arts and youth funding.

Since 2015, the foundation has only been accepting applications from previously funded organizations. These organizations are limited to requests of $5,000 or less. 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.

The grant application process is online and applications can be submitted anytime from January to October 31. The Foundation also accepts the Chicago Area Grant Application available from the Donors Forum of Chicago. All proposals should be addressed to the foundation administrator, and decision letters are mailed out in March or April.

You can keep up with what’s going on at the Meyer Family Foundation by following its Facebook page. General grantmaking inquiries should be directed to the Foundation Administrator, Carol Barrett, at 224-333-0100 or info@clmff.com.


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