F.M. Kirby Foundation: Tri-State Area Grants

OVERVIEW: This family foundation largely supports New Jersey and Tri-State Area nonprofits in the areas of education, human services, and arts and culture. Unsolicited letters of inquiry are accepted.  

FUNDING AREAS: Arts/culture/humanities, education, environment and animals, health, human services, public affairs and society benefit, religion

IP TAKE: This family funder has a lot to work with in terms of grantmaking power. New Jersey groups have good opportunities with Kirby.

PROFILE: The F.M. Kirby Foundation is based in Morristown, New Jersey, and was established by Fred Morgan Kirby in 1931. Kirby opened a five and dime store in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1887, which merged with Woolworths in 1912, making Kirby a founder of the F.W. Woolworth Company. The foundation was funded with an initial $9 million, and Kirby served as president until 1940.

Today, this foundation supports education, health, arts, environmental, religious, human services, and public affairs organizations. The funder mainly funds local groups in New Jersey and the Tri-State Area, where family members still live and remain active in the community. Grantees are often groups that have been associated with family member involvement.

In a recent year, the funder gave out over $39 million in grants to 222 organizations. Human services grants have gone to American Red Cross/Northern New Jersey Region, Covenant House New Jersey, and Daytop Village of New Jersey. Education grants have gone to JerseyCAN and Reach Out and Read New Jersey. Learn more about the over 3,000 grants awarded, totaling more than $225 million, in the foundation’s grants database.

A majority of recent grants have gone to human services causes, followed by education, arts and culture, and public affairs. According to Foundation Center data, the funder’s total dollar value of grants in New Jersey is at least $113.2 million, and at least 1,834 grants have been awarded in the state. Meanwhile, at least 1,115 grants totaling $72 million have been awarded in New York, with at least 64 grants totaling $2.2 million in Connecticut.

There is no required format to apply for a Kirby grant. A list of ideas the foundation would like to see in your letter of inquiry can be found on the funder’s Apply page of its website. But to apply for a Kirby Foundation grant, you must submit an application by mail—no fax or email submissions are accepted. Always put unsolicited requests in the form of a letter of inquiry, and get your request in before October 31 to be considered for the current year.

To get in touch, call (973) 538-4800; email contact is discouraged. William H. Byrnes is vice president of grants for the foundation and the best contact for grantseekers. The address is 17 DeHart Street, P.O. Box 151, Morristown, New Jersey 07963.

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