Charter Foundation: Grants for Philadelphia

OVERVIEW: This funder supports Philadelphia organizations involved with poverty, illness, abuse, aging, hunger, and homelessness. Unsolicited applications are accepted. 

FUNDING AREAS: Healthcare, medical research, education

IP TAKE: This funder keeps a low profile but has a broad range of interests in Philadelphia. Apply any time of the year to ask for $5,000 to $25,000.

PROFILE: The Charter Foundation was established in November 2009 and funded by a grant received in July 2010. This is a family-run foundation with strong ties to Philadelphia. The Charter Family’s original trustees were Joseph K. Gordon, Esq. and his wife, Ray McLean Gordon. Joseph was an attorney, bank executive, and philanthropist in Philadelphia who passed away in 2015. His obituary shared, “Perhaps his most notable professional accomplishment was coming up with the legal framework that allowed for the creation of the multi-bank Money Access Center, or “MAC,” automated teller network, a now ubiquitous term for ATM machines in the Philadelphia region, used by millions of people around the world.” Ray was a native of Philadelphia and volunteer that passed away in 2011.

The foundation funds healthcare, medical research, and education. However, arts grants support museums, theaters, zoos, and art centers that reach disadvantaged and underserved populations in Greater Philadelphia. Programs for at-risk and disadvantaged children and adults are funded through the education program. Environment grants are fewer and farther between, but when they are made, they're often for educational programs focused on environmental science. Healthcare grants are made to nonprofit hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and medical research institutes. And finally, human services grants support groups helping the elderly, infirm, and disadvantaged.

Overall, this funder has a particular interest in supporting organizations that help local residents suffering from illness, poverty, abuse, aging, hunger, and homelessness. The number of grants awarded in each category varies from year to year. In a recent year, the funder awarded $718,000 in grants, most between $5,000 and $25,000. The largest grant that year ($215,000) went to the Lankenau Medical Center Foundation to support a Chair in Medicine.

The Charter Foundation only funds organizations outside Greater Philadelphia if they're a national group with a local chapter. It typically engages in multiyear grant commitments for general operating, program, and capital support. However, it prefers that nonprofits take a year off between grant requests after being funded.

Grants are awarded quarterly, and the foundation has a rolling application process. The trustees meet in March, June, September, and December, and requests are considered on a first-come-first-served basis. The application process is online, starting with an eligibility quiz.

General questions can be directed to the foundation via email at The foundation phone number is 610-220-9054 and the address is 640 Narcisi Lane, Wayne, PA 19087. 

Current trustees of the foundation are Joseph K. Gordon and Ray McLean Gordon’s adult children: Leila Gordon, Hunter R. Gordon, and C. Scott Gordon. They have been involved in the banking and finance industry and run the foundation with no other outside staff members. The trustees sometimes do their own site visits for new potential grantees.


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Grant Application Process


Who Runs the Charter Foundation, and What Does It Support in Greater Philadelphia?