Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation: Philadelphia Grants

OVERVIEW: The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation is the only private foundation that exclusively funds arts organizations in the city of Philadelphia. Arts education, community enrichment, and access to the arts are at the heart of this highly focused funder’s mission.

IP TAKE: This is a great local funder for small arts nonprofits to know, especially because it’s gone relatively unnoticed by many potential grantees and is looking for new grantees who align with its priority areas of in-depth arts education and community-based arts programs.

PROFILE: George Bartol, the chairman and CEO of Hunt Manufacturing in Philadelphia, established a grantmaking foundation in 1984. This is the company that’s made Xacto knives, Boston Staplers, Speedball inks, and other office and art supplies. Throughout his life, he was committed to arts education and always felt like Philadelphia had something unique to offer among cities across America. Philadelphia’s cultural assets and attractiveness to businesses set it apart, in his opinion. Bartol’s brother, Stockton Rush, was killed in World War II, and Bartol named his foundation after him.

Today, the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation supports art and cultural groups throughout Philadelphia. Like many local art funders, this foundation looks for organizations that pursue social and community purposes—not just aesthetic ones. The foundation’s main purpose is to support arts education programs that connect local communities to the arts so that everyone has access. Additionally, the foundation provides teaching artists with free professional development programs in order to build their networks and share their skills with students.

This locally focused foundation exclusively funds arts and cultural organizations in the city of Philadelphia, making it a key funder to know for local nonprofits. Requests from organizations outside the five-county Philadelphia area are not considered for grants. Arts groups eligible for consideration include organizations for dance, film, museums, performing arts, theater, visual arts, music, and literature. Recently, the foundation decided not to support organizations that have operating budgets over $2.5 million, which is is good news for Philly's smaller arts outfits. 

The application deadline is always May 1, unless it falls on a weekend, and the foundation starts site visits in the summer of the prior year. Unlike many foundations, Bartol requires a site visit before you apply, not after. 

Grants are awarded for amounts between $5,000 and $10,000. At the end of the third quarter of 2013, the foundation reported over $5.6 million in assets and $137,500 in total giving. In 2014, the foundation awarded $140,000 in grants ranging from $5,000 to $7,000 each. And in 2015, the Bartol Foundation awarded $165,000 to 28 grantees, comprised of $160,000 in grants and the $5,000 Bartol Award. Both program support and general operating support are regularly provided.

This is also a great local funder for nonprofits to know because it’s gone relatively unnoticed by many potential grantees. In 2014, the foundation received only 46 applications, the fewest in recent history, and 24 organizations received grants that year. Those are pretty good odds!

Five grants were awarded to organizations new to the foundation, and almost all grantees had operating budgets under $1 million. In fact, one grantee had a budget of just $43,000 and secured a Bartol grant. So unlike other big arts funders around Philly, Bartol keeps an eye out for the little guy.

Past grantees include:

  • 1812 Productions—$5,000 for theater residencies
  • Art-Reach—$5000 general operating support
  • Wagner Free Institute of Science—$5,000 for a science, art and nature program
  • Spiral Q Puppet Theater—$5,000 for an in-school education program
  • Play On, Philly—$5,000 for general operating support

If you’re interested in applying for a Bartol grant, you can determine eligibility online and then schedule a date for a mandatory site visit BEFORE you apply.

The foundation is currently looking for new grantees who align with its priority areas of in-depth arts education and community-based arts programs. Executive Director Beth Feldman Brandt shared the following: 

We are always looking to support emerging organizations that can help us achieve our mission of supporting access to hands-on, quality arts programs.  We have a history of giving first or early grants to small, community-based organizations, and hope that we then encourages other funders to invest. We often have other funders tell us that they look at our grant list to find organizations they were unaware of. Any new organizations should contact us to have a conversation and set up a site visit.

The foundation established the George Bartol Arts Education Award in 2001 to recognize outstanding local arts programs. Bartol’s children provide the funding for this $5,000 annual award, which isn’t something that you can apply for directly. The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) won the award in a recent year.

“We applaud the dedication of Philadanco who, for more than four decades, has provided dance training at the highest level to those who might not have access otherwise,” said Brandt. “The inclusion of life skills training in their programs has benefitted thousands of young people, helping them to become creative and disciplined individuals.”

Bartol conducted a survey of 100 artists recently to get a sense of what they're up to around town. Interested artists can learn more about the asset mapping project and upcoming workshops on the teaching artist page. 

Bartol is operated by a two-person staff consisting of an executive director and program manager. There are currently 15 board members at the foundation, as well. You can reach the staff by email or via phone at the Cherry Street office at 267-519-5310. Beth Feldman Brandt is your best point of contact for grantseeker questions. To keep up with the Bartol Foundation, sign up for the newsletter on the Get Updates section of the funder's website.

When I asked Ms. Brandt for the one piece of advice that she'd give to prospective grantees, here's what she said:

The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation works to be transparent in its grantmaking which focuses on arts and culture in the City of Philadelphia with an emphasis on in-depth arts education and community-based arts programs.  We encourage anyone who is interested in applying to read through our website and have a conversation with us to help you submit a strong proposal.  I would also point out that organizations must do a site visit before they are eligible to apply.


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