E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation: Philadelphia Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder primarily supports community health nursing groups in Philadelphia. LGBT issues, Asian art and graduate theological education requests are also considered by the foundation staff locally.

FUNDING AREAS: Community health nursing, LGBT issues, Asian art, graduate theological education

IP TAKE: Your best opportunities to get involved with this Philadelphia-based foundation are in community health nursing or faith-based LGBT services.

PROFILE: E. Rhodes Carpenter established a private family foundation in his name in 1975, and it was changed to the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation in 1982. This funder is based in Philadelphia. Most foundation grantmaking has taken place since E. Rhodes’ death in 1980, with only a few substantial gifts awarded before that time.

E. Rhodes Carpenter distributed foam rubber cushioning to furniture makers in the late 1940s and moved the manufacturing process from Germany to Richmond, Va., in 1962. His company, Carpenter Co., is one of the largest manufacturers of cushioning products, like flexible polyurethane foam and processed polyester fiber, in the world still today. The family foundation is entirely separate from the company in terms of operations and grantmaking.

In a recent year, the foundation reported over $251 million in assets and more than $11 million in total giving. The Carpenter Foundation often supports charities that the founders had direct relationships with during their lifetimes. However, it also considers grant requests from charities in communities where Carpenter Co. has had manufacturing facilities and from graduate theological education charities in the U.S. and Canada.

One of this funder’s biggest commitments to Philadelphia is in the field of community health nursing. It accepts grant requests from nonprofits in Philadelphia, as well as Worcester, Mass., and Richmond, Va., for this cause. The foundation also supports LGBT causes, especially projects that help LGBT people of faith, or that encourage faith groups to include and welcome LGBT people.

The founders were heavily into Asian art and consider grant requests from museum nonprofits to purchase and exhibit Asian art in the U.S., as well as groups wanting to exhibit Western art in China and Taiwan. However, performing arts grants are only awarded for performances planned for Richmond, Va. In general, Carpenter prefers to support small and mid-sized nonprofits and awards grants for both operating support and program/project support.

There are no required forms to apply for a Carpenter Foundation grant and no letter of inquiry process. The information needed in your application letter are detailed in the foundation’s grantmaking guidelines PDF. Grant requests are considered in the spring and fall and should be sent by January 31 or July 15 to be considered at foundation meetings.

You must mail, not email, your application to the foundation office in Philadelphia, and only one request per organization will be considered in a calendar year. General questions can be directed to the staff at (215) 979-3221 or via email at admin@carpenterfoundation.us.


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