OVERVIEW: The Spruce Foundation is a volunteer-led foundation that connects young budding philanthropists with youth nonprofits in the city of Philadelphia. In addition to four annual $5,000 grants, Spruce organizes service days and happy hours to raise awareness and funds throughout the year.
FUNDING AREAS: Youth causes in Philadelphia, education, LBGTQ, health, arts
IP TAKE: Partnering with the Spruce Foundation involves much more than securing a one-time grant. This is a foundation that builds long-term relationships and facilitates volunteer involvement. Introduce your Philly youth organization to Spruce and start attending their events to get involved.
PROFILE: The Spruce Foundation prides itself on ushering in the next generation of philanthropy. It’s a collective that encourages young professionals in Philadelphia to increase their awareness, engagement and support of local organizations working with at-risk youth. Membership is comprised of over 1,500 young professionals in Philadelphia who are committed to using their skills and resources to strengthen the youth of the city. Unlike Philadelphia’s big family and corporate philanthropies, Spruce is a volunteer-led foundation that has traditionally awarded $5,000 grants in three program areas at an annual gala.
Founded in 2007, the Spruce Foundation has a strict focus on the youth of Philadelphia. Not only does this foundation award grant money, it also connects young professionals between the ages of 22 and 35 with nonprofits to assist with training and matching to local boards, pro-bono consultancies, and strategic philanthropic giving. Spruce organizes a few events each year to make these connections and get the ball rolling. These are the four program areas that Spruce supports:
- Health and wellness
- The arts
“The spruce is meant to represent the organization’s efforts to tie Philadelphia’s young philanthropists to our city’s ‘roots’ — Philadelphia children,” explained Josh Schwartz, who co-founded the group with his brother, Lee Garber, in 2007. The foundation was also conceived on Spruce Street, home of Schwartz's law office.
Since 2012, Spruce has invited about 15-20 grassroots organizations to apply for grants each year. A past education grantee was iPRAXIS, an organization aiming to connect students in underserved communities with science programs and experts. The Attic Youth Center was recently awarded an LGBTQ program Spruce grant, and the Philadelphia-based Asian Arts Initiative was awarded an arts program grant. Spruce awarded a health and wellness program grant to the Philadelphia chapter of Girls on the Run, an inspirational running and health program designed for third through fifth grade girls. Recent grantees can be viewed on the funder's homepage.
Throughout the year, Spruce hosts service-focused happy hours dedicated to one of the four program areas. During each Happy Hour, organizations are given the opportunity to present their missions and programming to the young emerging philanthropists and volunteers. Spruce also hosts an annual service day, where it recruits around 200-300 young professionals to participate in service projects with 10-20 of Spruce’s partner organizations. “Spruce in the Community Days” are held once per quarter to engage 5-15 young professionals in direct service projects.
“We are all taught that tzedakah is an obligation," said Rachael Eisenberg, Vice President of Operations. "The Spruce Foundation has been a source of opportunity for thousands of young adults,” Jewish or not, “to carry out tzedakah.”
Any nonprofit in Philadelphia that partners with Spruce is eligible for a grant if it submits a grant proposal, attends Spruce events throughout the year, and provides volunteer opportunities that benefit the youth of Philadelphia. Grant applications are reviewed and selected by Spruce’s Partnership Committee and Executive Committee. Grant recipients are announced at Spruce’s annual gala, which is held in the spring. Each grant comes with a mid-year and annual grant reporting requirement.
Check out the foundation's Application page to keep up with current deadlines. To learn more about Spruce’s grantmaking and young entrepreneurial involvement, send an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Matt Kurilla, President and Chairman of the Board
- John Lyons, Grantmaking board member
- Elizabeth Thompson, Grantmaking board member