Altman Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Altman Foundation is dedicated to New York City and provides moderately sized grants to local nonprofits in a variety of areas. This foundation has practically written the book on a "results-based" philanthropy approach.

IP TAKE: This foundation likes to help out the little guy rather than toss money to well-established organizations that have plenty of grants coming their way. Housing and workforce development organizations have been getting a lot of attention in New York City in recent years. Any proposal involving youth housing or youth employment is likely to get noticed.

PROFILE: With a strict focus on the city of New York, the Altman Foundation supports programs that improve the quality of life of communities, families, and individuals in the five boroughs. Since the foundation was formed in 1913 from Benjamin Altman's department store fortune, it has refined its guidelines and focused attention on education, health, strengthening communities, and arts and culture. Unlike many other philanthropic foundations, Altman tends to take bigger chances on promising ideas without being overly prescriptive.

Through thick and thin, Altman has been a staunch supporter of education and youth initiatives. In the past, the foundation has granted substantial awards to educational programs at top-performing, independent schools such as the Harlem Academy and youth development programs such as Rocking the Boat. At the end of a recent year, the foundation claimed nearly $255 million in assets. 

Not too long ago, Altman updated its guidelines for health grant proposals. New models of care are emerging as a result of the Patient Protection Act, Affordable Healthcare Act, and other health reform laws. Adequate health insurance coverage for New Yorkers, out-patient community based providers, and healthcare worker job skills are of particular importance under these guidelines. 

The foundation is fixated on its results-based approach and looks to the future for outcomes more than activities. All grantmaking revolves around direct service, capacity building, or systems change. To learn about recent Altman grantees, check out the Search Grantees page and the Illustrative Grants page. Historically, grants have fallen between $25,000 and $100,000 a piece.

Education grant proposals should focus on disadvantaged high school and college students, increase early childhood literacy, or improve teacher performance. Health proposals should make primary care more accessible, decrease unnecessary hospital admissions, or develop training programs for health-care workers. Community development proposals should increase jobs, provide affordable housing, and help the elderly stay in their homes. Arts proposals should further overall academic performance and engage underserved populations in cultural programming.

Altman's grant application process is more transparent than some others around the city. The foundation's approach, guidelines, and FAQs are explicitly stated on the application process page. Like many foundations in the area, this one won't award grants to individuals, fundraisers, capital equipment, or disease research. Altman also won't consider proposals for artistic performances or exhibitions that it isn't already involved with or any public or private universities.

A basic letter of inquiry submitted through the grants portal will get you started, and general questions can be directed to Full proposals are accepted for investments in direct service, capacity building, and systems change.