Edward John Noble Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Edward John Noble Foundation focuses most of its grantmaking on broad programs in New York City and environmental causes on the Georgia coast. Although the foundation doesn't have a website and maintains a low profile, its staff has very specific ideas in mind when it comes to art, education, and health funding.

FUNDING AREAS: Art, education, nature conservation, and health

IP TAKE: The Noble Foundation takes note of New York City organizations mostly for art education programs and underprivileged youth educational programs. Leave higher education and the environment to different regions of the country and focus your program's efforts on these two priorities.

PROFILE: It's hard to look past the irony in the fact that the creator of Life Savers is still saving lives after his death with his philanthropy. Edward John Noble co-founded the Life Savers candy corporation in 1913 and founded the American Broadcasting Company decades later. During his lifetime, Noble was dedicated to the people of New York, since grew up here and was educated in the New York public schools system. As one of the most well-rounded men in city history, Noble served as the first chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Authority, the under-secretary of commerce for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and an advisory board member for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's St. Lawrence Seaway Project.

Most Noble Foundation giving takes place in metropolitan New York City, but the donor also had a special place in his heart for St. Catherine's Island in Georgia. Noble bought the island to be his personal southern retreat in 1943, but ownership was transferred to the foundation after his death. Today, the Georgia island is operated for scientific, educational, and charitable purposes to promote the conservation of natural resources and knowledge in the natural sciences. New York City organizations should steer clear of the environmental focus area because that is the one field exclusive to the Georgia coast. A second foundation, the St. Catherine's Island Foundation, was established to handle the Georgia and environmental arm of the donor's grantmaking.

Past local grants from Noble have included $6 million to New York University, $1.2 million to New York's Museum of Modern Art, $100,000 to W.N.Y.C. Radio, and $25,000 to the Society of Illustrators. The foundation usually awards 25 to 50 grants each year, ranging in size from $7,500 to $2.5 million. Noble is run by a very small staff that doesn't make itself accessible to the grantseeking public. At the end of a recent year, the foundation reported over $108 million in total assets and more than $4.4 million in total giving spread across 28 grants. Those numbers are down a bit in terms of assets, giving, and total grants compared to previous years.

The best way to get in touch with the foundation is by phone at 212-759-4212. Be advised that Noble does not fund grants for individuals, publications, building development, equipment, film, loans, or performances. The foundation likes to see arts programs that focus on art education more than anything else.

There's good news for New York City secondary education institutions, because Noble gives preferential treatment to programs supporting disadvantaged and talented youth within the city limits. But as students get older, Noble's vision becomes broader. Noble almost exclusively favors environment studies programs at private colleges in the northeastern United States. Noble's health program is a little broad as well, including pretty much any health category in the eastern United States.

Unfortunately, the Noble Foundation doesn't have a website or publicize its application instructions for grantseekers. You'll have to make a phone call to introduce yourself, but it could very well be worth it if you can get a piece of the Noble's assets.


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