Scherman Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: Scherman funds arts, environment, government transparency and accountability, human rights and liberties, reproductive rights and justice, and strengthening New York communities. It also awards grants through the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts, Environment, Governmental Transparency and Accountability, Human Rights and Liberties, Reproductive Rights and Justice, and Strengthening New York Communities

IP TAKE: This is a funder known for joining foundation collaborations in New York City. Learn about the two different funds that Scherman awards grants through. Their interests overlap, but their approach is different.

PROFILE: The Scherman Foundation administers two grantmaking funds: the Core Fund, and the Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund. The foundation was established 1941 by Harry Scherman, founder of the Book-of-the-Month Club. The foundation started with annual giving of around $100,000. Today, priority giving areas are arts, environment, government transparency and accountability, human rights and liberties, reproductive rights and justice, and strengthening New York communities.

Scherman had a daughter, Katharine Scherman Rosin: her husband Axel Rosin later took over as president and chairman of the book club. Through Katharine’s bequest in 2012, the foundation established a new giving program called the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund. This particular fund supports innovative, short-term and high-impact projects in the arts, strengthening New York communities, and the environment.

Although Scherman occasionally funds nationally and internationally, much of the focus and commitment goes to New York City. The Core Fund accepts letters of inquiry throughout the year via online application. The board meets quarterly to discuss proposals and invite nonprofits to submit full proposals. However, Rosin Fund grantmaking has been significantly reduced, and it has been alternating program areas to sustain itself. For example, limited arts and New York community programs are being accepted in 2017, and no environmental applications will be accepted in 2018. Current deadline can be found on the Programs page, and the application process is conducted online.

Many recent grants have totaled between $20,000 and $50,000 each. The Strengthening New York Communities program area in the Core Fund typically sees both one- and two-year grants between $40,000 to $50,000. But Rosin Fund grants for New York Community have been larger—in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and usually for three-year periods. Check out the NY Communities Core Fund page and Rosin Fund NY Communities page to learn more about how these local opportunities differ.

Many of the other grantees are based in New York City too, not just ones that receive community program grants. Current grantees by program are can be viewed here.

At the end of a recent year, the foundation awarded over $5.9 million in total grants. Over $2.7 million of that was part of the Core Fund and over $3.2 million of it was from the Rosin Fund. Although more Core Fund grants are awarded each year across more program areas, Rosin Fund grants are larger in size. Current financial data can be viewed in the annual reports.

The foundation is run by a small staff made up of a president, program director, administrator, and grants manager. They can all be reached via email, and all email addresses are listed on the staff page of the funder's website.

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