Booth Ferris Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Booth Ferris Foundation is a New York City-focused funder of the arts and K-12 public education.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts, culture, K-12 education, higher education, strengthening NYC's nonprofit sector

IP TAKE: This isn't a huge foundation, but it's great one for K-12 public schools and arts & culture nonprofits in New York City to know about. 

PROFILE: Established in 1957 by Willis H. Booth and his wife, Chancie Ferris, the Booth Ferris Foundation has awarded over $281 million to charitable causes. Booth was a successful banker and business executive who became the vice-president of the Guaranty Trust Company and Hotpoint Electric Heating Company. In a recent year, more than $11.8 million was distributed through 126 grants. Grantmaking has been up a bit from previous years.

Education is the primary focus of the Booth Ferris Foundation, especially smaller colleges and public education initiatives in New York City. The Booth Ferris Foundation gave $3.8 million to education causes in a recent year. Arts and culture is another top foundation priority.  

The Booth Ferris Foundation recently made news by joining four other funders to help level the playing field for diverse cultural groups in need of support around the city. These funders kicked in a combined total of nearly a million dollars to ensure that cultural groups of all sizes and in every borough are acknowledged for their contributions and can get the support they need to thrive.

This is a great foundation to have on your radar if your nonprofit needs funds for capital and capacity building projects. As a general rule, the foundation does not fund international organizations, scholarships, fellowships, specific disease work, or individuals. Nonprofits must be operating inside the metropolitan New York area to be considered for social services and cultural grants.

The deadline for the Booth Ferris K-12 education program and higher education program is February 1 of each year. New York City public schools are the focus of K-12 grantmaking. However, the higher education program is broader and has a national focus. Ferris Booth has a history of supporting organizations based in Oregon, California, Maryland, Louisiana, Ohio, Connecticut, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.

The Booth Ferris arts and culture program is all about New York City and the following local organizations are eligible to apply: performing, presenting, education, intermediary, advocacy, public policy, and capacity-building organizations. The foundation looks for proposals that involve capacity building efforts or capital projects at that critical juncture in the organization’s life cycle.

Finally, this foundation also supports organizations that strengthen the capacity of the nonprofit sector in New York City. This includes organizations that provide management or technical assistance to local nonprofits and that are engaged in advocacy or public policy work on behalf of underserved local communities. In a recent year, Ferris Booth gave $3.7 million under this contribution category. Support for organizational capacity has really been going up lately. 

Fortunately for local grantseekers, the Booth Ferris Foundation does accept unsolicited grant proposals. All applications must be submitted online using the J.P. Morgan Chase online application. Rather than employing a dedicated staff of its own, the foundation hands operations and administration over to advisors at the bank. It’s important to note that the Booth Ferris Foundation is in no way affiliated with the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, another New York-focused funder.

Program-specific questions about Booth Ferris grantmaking can be directed to the appropriate staff member listed below by email.

PEOPLE:

  • Carolyn O’Brien, Program Officer - Education
  • Maria Franco, Grants Manager - Strengthening NYC's Nonprofit Sector, Arts & Culture 
  • Samantha Elder, Program Officer, Parks and Gardens

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