Hamilton Family Foundation: Philadelphia Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports literacy-based education programs in K-12 schools in Philadelphia, Chester and Cambridge. Grants are directed to in-school, after-school and summer literacy enrichment programs.

FUNDING AREAS: K-12 education, literacy-based educational programs in underserved Philadelphia area schools.

IP TAKE: Pitch a program proposal for a reading and writing improvement program for grades K-8 in low-income local schools. However, any program you pitch for high school students should be focused on college prep.  

PROFILE: The Hamilton Family Foundation was incorporated in 1992, and is a small, private family foundation that supports education causes. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel M.V. Hamilton and their children established this foundation to help underserved children and youth in Philadelphia. Samuel was a senior vice president at Janney Montgomery Scott, the executive director of 218 Enterprises, and an owner of a restaurant. Before his death from cancer in 1997, he was active in civic and cultural affairs and served on several local boards.

The main goals of Hamilton grantmaking are to prepare young Philadelphians for employment and college acceptance and completion. Literacy is at the heart of this funder’s support, including fundamental reading and writing. Typical areas of support include programs that increase essential reading and writing skills, fostering academic achievement, college admission and completion, and employment success for at-risk youth in the Philadelphia area. Overall grantmaking goals are boosts in high school graduation rates, college admission and completion, and personal and career satisfaction.

In-school, after-school and summer literacy enrichment programs are considered for grants for grades K-12. The cities of Philadelphia, Chester and Camden are the target areas of Hamilton grantmaking. However, if the executive director or board extends an invitation, other cities have been known to secure Hamilton’s support as well.

Direct services grant recipients are almost always categorized as “economically underserved,” and grantees should have over 70 percent of participants eligible for free or reduced-rate lunch in schools. This funder also likes to support projects that devote at least 70 percent of program time to direct reading and writing instruction. This is even more important to Hamilton in the early grades. High school grantees should focus more on college prep.

Fortunately for grantseekers, unsolicited grant requests are considered, and there’s an online application system in place. No letters of inquiry are necessary, but if you have questions about eligibility, you should call the foundation office first to inquire. Keep in mind this is not a funder of human services projects, capital/equipment projects, religious education, or pre-school or college programs.

The board meets quarterly to consider requests. Application deadlines are on November 1, February 1, May 1, and August 1. Applicants are contacted within a week after meeting dates; grant documents and checks are sent within three weeks. Questions about the application process should be directed to the office at 610-293-2225 or abenjamin@218enterprises.com. There’s a helpful, 11-minute video tutorial worth checking out before you get started.

Most first-time grants are between $3,000 and $10,000, and Hamilton prefers to fund program support over general operating support. Multi-year grants aren’t out of the question, but they are rare.

A few years ago, the foundation welcomed a third generation of family members to its board. There are six members of the board, seven individuals on the grants committee, and four staff members. The staff is comprised of an executive director, senior grants administrator, grants manager, and finance manager.

General inquiries can be directed to the staff at 610-293-2225 or via email at information@hamiltonfamilyfoundation.org.


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