Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation contributes around $8 million each year to local nonprofits working to advance education, health, medicine, religion, and vulnerable populations. The foundation supports about 300 different organizations each year, and funding is almost exclusively limited to Los Angeles and the surrounding communities. 

FUNDING AREAS: Education, medicine, religion, health & welfare, children & youth, elderly needs

IP TAKE: Although not all Doheny grants go toward religious causes, take note that almost every page of the foundation’s website is adorned with a Bible verse. Also, keep in mind that this is a funder that prefers recurring funding strategies and long-term commitments over one-time grants and brand new grantees.

PROFILE: The late Carrie Estelle Doheny established her foundation as a trust in 1949 with $30 million. She was the widow of oil producer, Edward L. Doheny, who assisted in drilling the first successful oil well in the city of Los Angeles back in 1892. Early on, Carrie Doheny envisioned her foundation as a means to support education, medicine, science, religion, and the needs of children and the elderly. She was a Los Angeles resident for over 40 years and she wished to give her support to her neighbors who were suffering and working to build a better future.

Her husband’s success allowed her to become a prominent philanthropist and book collector (especially Bibles) during her lifetime. Doheny was a devout Catholic and a significant portion of her foundation’s grantmaking has a religious focus. Doheny established St. Vincent’s Church in 1925 and the Doheny Eye Institute with a $227,000 grant through the Doheny Eye Foundation in 1947.

Today, the Doheny foundation has five grantmaking focus areas, which are as follows:

  • Education – Doheny awards grants for inner city Catholic schools and scholarship funds for Catholic high schools and universities.
  • Medicine – Grantmaking is mostly focused on research related to the Doheny Eye Institute and hospitals and convalescent care facilities that serve disadvantaged populations.
  • Religion – Doheny funds evangelization and mission-based work of the Roman Catholic Church and local faith-based organizations.
  • Health and Welfare – Health grantmaking focuses on assisting the disabled, foster children, seniors, and pregnant women.
  • Aid to Those in Need – This priority area includes food banks, homeless shelters, literacy efforts, and programs that promote economic self-reliance.

To be eligible for a Doheny grant, your organization must be a registered nonprofit and you can’t be asking for money to publish a book or media program, travel funds, advertising, individual scholarship, endowment, or any political purposes. Funding is almost exclusively limited to Los Angeles and surrounding communities. The foundation never supports causes outside of the United States.

Doheny likes supporting organizations it has a long-standing history with. Of the approximately 300 different organizations that receive Doheny support each year, most of them have been connected with the foundation for over a decade. This is a funder that prefers recurring funding strategies over one-time grants. However, the Doheny Foundation does accept unsolicited grant inquires and has an online application system. The Board considers grant requests at monthly meetings on the last Friday of each month except September.

At the end a recent year, the Doheny Foundation reported over $166 million in assets and over $8 million in charitable contributions. Doheny grants typically range between $5,000 and $50,000. For a list of recent grants awarded by year, check out the foundation website’s Past Grants List page.

The Doheny Foundation is run by a small all-female staff, consisting of a Chief Administrator/Financial Officer and four Grants Administrators. General questions can be directed to the foundation staff at 213-488-1122 or submitted via online form.


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