Ahmanson Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Ahmanson Foundation awards about 450 grants each year in a variety of interest areas in Los Angeles County. Although grants range from $5,000 to $1 million, most awards have been in the $10,000 to $50,000 range. Unlike many foundations, Ahmanson does not conduct any of its application process online.

IP TAKE: Ahmanson is not the foundation to approach for program support or general operating support. There are plenty of other foundations in the city that prefer those types of requests. Regardless of your issue area, pitch a proposal for infrastructure development, supply purchases, technical upgrades, or property acquisitions.

PROFILE: The Ahmanson Foundation has been around for over 60 years, and with over $1 billion in assets, Ahmanson is a major supporter of many L.A. nonprofits. The financier Howard F. Ahmanson started his own insurance company while he was in college and later established the country's largest saving and loan association, Home Savings of America. The foundation's been around since 1952, but the world of philanthropy has changed a lot since then. One thing that sets the Ahmanson Foundation apart is the type of funding it provides.

Ahmanson focuses its giving in four key areas: arts and humanities, education, health care, and human services. The majority of its support goes to capital expenses, including construction, property acquisition, and technology. That's not a common fundraising priority for many foundations. For instance, one past grant to the renowned Center Theater Group allowed the organization to expand its online footprint. Ahmanson has made countless other grants for "financial stable" and "efficient" organizations throughout the years. Occasional operational support grants are awarded for outstanding program support, but those are few and far between.

Ahmanson has really boosted grantmaking to L.A.-based organizations in the last couple years. Grant amounts have historically ranged from $10,000 up to $100,000, with a handful surpassing the $100,000 mark. Check out the foundation's Grant Search feature to see a list of recent grants.

In the past, Ahmanson has shown its support for the Hope Street Margolis Family Center and Taking the Reins, a nonprofit serving adolescent girls with equestrian training. Other grants have gone to the Center Theatre Group, the African American Male Achievers Network, Alternative Living for the Aging, and Upward Bound House.

One thing grantseekers should be aware of is that Ahmanson does not like to receive multiple grant requests from organizations. Nor does it like to see grant requests from the same organizations on a regular basis. According to Ahmanson, these multiple requests hinder its ability to be "responsive" to grant requests. The foundation actually gives grant consideration preference to organizations that "…do not submit requests on a regular or annual basis."

The grant application process is somewhat old-fashioned, as letters of inquiry can be submitted throughout the year through standard mail. There are no official forms to fill out, and proposals are considered at quarterly board meetings and weekly executive committee meetings. Organizations located in Los Angeles County that can accomplish their goals in a reasonable time frame are the most likely to receive support. 

General inquiries should be directed to info@theahmansonfoundation.org or 310-278-0770.

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