Ayrshire Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Ayrshire Foundation views philanthropy as investment in world betterment, and spreads its wealth across a wide range of opportunities to support change: youth, the elderly and disabled, science and the environment, healthcare, and community culture. It focuses on three geographic locations, including the San Gabriel Valley.

IP TAKE: The San Gabriel Valley, and by extension Los Angeles, is a primary geographic arena of giving for the Ayrshire Foundation across all of its focus areas. The foundation also likes synergy between its focus areas.

PROFILE: The Ayrshire Foundation was founded in 1998 by James N. Gamble (the great grandson of the founder of Procter & Gamble) and his family in order to broaden the scope of their already-established personal philanthropy.

The foundation sees its grants as an “investment in the possibility of change and a better world.” To that end, its giving is broad in scope, although, interestingly, its website frames its current focus as actually narrowing from its original mission to now concentrate in these five areas: Youth Opportunities, Science & Environment, Healthcare, Services for the Elderly and Disabled, and Community Culture.

The San Gabriel Valley is one of three locales that the Ayrshire Foundation declares as its geographic priorities. The other two are the Bay Area and Little Traverse, Michigan. All three are areas where James Gamble and his family have community ties. The foundation uses the word "preference" to describe its commitment to these three areas, suggestive of some flexibility beyond this geographic scope. In practice, support of anything outside of these locations is very minimal, and is best reflected in programs that might be broader in scope (regional or national) but are still headquartered or linked to one of these three geographic areas. 

Since you're already reading this in relation to Los Angeles, you understand the distinction between the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles as a whole. The Ayrshire Foundation does focus its efforts on the San Gabriel Valley (think the Pasadena area) but its recent support shows that dollars do radiate outward to the more general Los Angeles environs. But the closer you are to the San Gabriel Valley, the greater the wealth of possibilities available to you.

That starts because of the foundation’s literal wealth. The Ayrshire Foundation distributes approximately $1 million each year, with most individual grants falling between $10,000 to $100,000. This wide range reflects the fact that for the Ayrshire Foundation it’s about “strategic philanthropy,” and it looks to target and tailor support to any given program’s needs—again, the end-game here is investment. The foundation describes itself as “effective seeders.”

Grants may be one-shot deals or extend several years. The Ayrshire Foundation also likes the prospect of partnering with other foundations and/or serving as a matching grant incentive for other givers. Regardless of the partnerships or incentives, because this is a foundation that is looking to invest, it is not keen to allocate grants for general operating support. As the foundation states, it instead seeks to support “other than usual operations—i.e. providing seed money for new programs or agencies designed to meet unfilled needs in the communities involved.”

Past examples of Ayrshire Foundation support for youth opportunities, healthcare, community culture, science and the environment, and the elderly and disabled—and combinations thereof—in the San Gabriel Valley and wider Los Angeles include:

  • $200,000 to Pasadena Education Foundation in Pasadena for an arts education project;
  • $125,000 to Hollenbeck Palms in Los Angeles to build a new skilled nursing and memory care center;
  • $100,000 to Pasadena City College to purchase, design and install recording studio equipment;
  • $75,000 to the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region to purchase an 18-foot box truck with lift gate;
  • $60,000 to Gamble House in Pasadena to endow a permanent curator;
  • $50,000 to the Pasadena Conservatory of Music for campus renovations;
  • $41,700 to the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena to remodel the teen center;
  • $26,000 to the Jericho Road Project in Pasadena to "leverage professional expertise for nonprofit organization;"
  • $5,000 to Heal the Bay (Santa Monica, CA) to support access for lower-income students.

The Ayrshire Foundation requires potential grantees to first fill out a brief online form. If you’ve piqued the foundation’s interest, it will invite you to submit a full proposal.

PEOPLE: