Annenberg Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Annenberg Foundation has been supporting local and worldwide communities through grants, technical assistance, and direct charitable activities since 1989. The foundation funds a standard array of causes, with grants usually falling between $10,000 and $100,000 apiece.

IP TAKE: Annenberg is especially partial to organizations in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, and Ventura. Just as Annenberg is a big name in Los Angeles, the foundation prefers big-name non-profit organizations. You'll need to have a budget of $5 million or more to be considered for the standard grant program. If your budget is lower, you should learn more about Annenberg Alchemy instead.

PROFILE: The Annenberg name is plastered all over public spaces in Southern California: the Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism at USC, the Annenberg Space for Photography, the Annenberg Community Beach House. You get the idea, right?

As one of the city's most prolific funders, the Annenberg Foundation isn't afraid to give big and make it known. For example, the foundation announced $50 million in support of an interpretive center at a local nature preserve. Keep in mind, that's just one grant. As far as overall grantmaking goes, Annenberg doles out about $100 million annually in grants to Los Angeles metro-area foundations. As far as what Annenberg likes to fund — minus the buildings that bear the Annenberg name — the major funding areas include the following:

  • Animal welfare
  • Arts, culture and humanities
  • Civic and community
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Military veterans
  • Human health and wellness

Annenberg likes to work with nonprofits working with unserved residents of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. However, it also supports organizations that serve the Los Angeles region but are headquartered elsewhere.

Just as important as knowing what Annenberg likes to fund is being aware of what it doesn't like. The foundation doesn't award grants to individuals (no surprise there) and "discourages" requests for capital campaigns for building construction or multiyear grants. So it seems that the only building construction grants Annenberg likes are those similar to the aforementioned buildings bearing the Annenberg name.

Quite a few Annenberg's grants in Los Angeles have been reaching and exceeding the $1 million mark. Past Annenberg grants in Los Angeles have included:

  • AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles - $16,848,970 and $4,329,637
  • CCF Community Initiatives Fun - $1 million
  • Claremont McKenna College - $1 million
  • Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences - $1 million

Annenberg has also granted awards for $1 million to $1.5 million to L.A. area arts organizations such as the LA Opera company, Museum of Contemporary Art, and the LA County Museum of Natural History Foundation. There's no doubt about it - the Annenberg Foundation likes to make headlines. The Annenerg Center for the Performing Arts debuted in Beverly Hills, polar bear populations are being filmed and studied, and Wallis continues to make her mark on southern California. However, some of those headlines are a bit controversial too. Activists once protested the Annenberg Foundation for its support of construction in the wetlands. In a written statement, the Foundation described the protesters as a "small but vocal band" that is mischaracterizing the nature of the project. 

For local fundraisers, there’s a few things you must know. First, Annenberg is willing to take grantmaking risk — with "occasional failure" — and the foundation provides support for organizations that provide collaborative and visionary solutions to complex problems. This leaves the door open for first-time grantseekers and promising startups; the key is solid leadership and effective, innovative solutions. In terms of their funding, Annenberg is also a relatively open-ended source, as they cover a lot of ground in program areas.

Fortunately, the foundation is one of the more accessible ones for nonprofits in Los Angeles, and its grantmaking process and guidelines are clear. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and average grants range from $10,000 to $250,000 for general operating expenses or project support. Of note: As the city's largest private foundation, the grant process is also extremely competitive — roughly one in 10 applicants are accepted — so doing your homework beforehand is essential. You can reach the foundation office at 213-403-3110 or via email at requests@annenbergfoundation.org with general questions.

PEOPLE:

  • Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO
  • Cynthia Kennard, Executive Director
  • Marsha Bonner, Director of Programs, Community Grantmaking & Special Initiatives
  • Juliet Flores, Program Officer
  • Ellah Ronen, Program Officer, LA n Sync

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