Ahmanson Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Ahmanson Foundation makes 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 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 consider those types of requests. Grant seekers should pitch a proposal for infrastructure development, supply purchases, technical upgrades, or property acquisitions.

PROFILE: The Ahmanson Foundation was established in 1952, and is a major supporter of many L.A. nonprofits. It seeks to “increase the quality of life in Southern California and to enhance its cultural legacy.” 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. One thing that sets the Ahmanson Foundation apart is the type of funding it provides. Ahmanson prioritizes grantmaking in four key areas: arts and humanities, education, health care, and human services.

The majority of its grants support capital expenses, including construction, property acquisition, and technology. That is 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 other grants for "financially stable" and "efficient" organizations throughout the years. It makes occasional operational support grants for outstanding program support, but those are few and far between.

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.

Past grantees include the Hope Street Margolis Family Center and Taking the Reins, a nonprofit serving adolescent girls with equestrian training. Ahmanson has also supported the Center Theatre Group, the African American Male Achievers Network, Alternative Living for the Aging, and Upward Bound House.

One thing grant seekers 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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