The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund

OVERVIEW: This funder supports New York City causes related to education, the arts, healthy food and economic development. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, the arts, healthy food, economic development

IP TAKE: Here’s a funder that identifies categories of giving it cares about, but doesn’t like to limit itself to specific issues or organizations. It looks for innovative programs that transcend boundaries and operate within the borders of New York City.

PROFILE: The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is all about expanding access and opportunity for New Yorkers. Tisch founded the fund in 2007 specifically to address issues in New York City. As the daughter of prominent New York City philanthropists Joan H. Tisch and the late Preston Robert Tisch, she comes from a legacy of family philanthropy giving in the city.

Laurie M. Tisch is highly involved in the local arts scene. She is co-chair of the board of trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Tisch has been involved in the local education scene and is Chair Emeritus of the Center for Arts Education and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. She is also the co-owner and a board member for the New York Giants football team.

The funder’s name is more than just a catchy title: its mission is illuminate and inspire new ideas and fresh approaches. Tisch and her staff look for programs that transcend any single category and address multiple issues. But through it all, giving is centered on New York City. Current areas of interest are access to healthy food, access to art and cultural activities, driving community service, nonprofit capacity building, and Jewish life in the U.S. and Israel.

The funder made a five-year, $15 million commitment to healthy food to improve access and disparities in diet-related diseases. Past arts and culture support has gone to the Whitney Museum, DreamYard Project, the Center for Urban Pedagogy and Roundabout Theater. Service grants have largely been directed towards national policy and convening, social entrepreneurship, and NYC programs and infrastructure. There are some good opportunities here for nonprofits that need to boost their recruiting, managing and volunteering efforts. The fund's Jewish life grants have an arts angle and have gone to JCC Manhattan, American Jewish World Service and Artis.

Illumination Fund partners include Teachers College at Columbia University, the Aspen Institute, Hunter College, Karp Resources and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. The founder and staff value collaboration and are always on the lookout for new partners to advance shared goals.

Unfortunately for local grantseekers, this fund doesn't accept unsolicited requests and seeks out its own long-term partnerships. Tisch is the fund’s president, and she leads a staff of three from their office on West 56th Street. Follow the news and events section on the fund’s website to keep up with it’s activities and interests. Or get in at (212) 792-9900 or the website contact form.

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