Dwight Stuart Youth Fund: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder focuses all grantmaking on youth in Los Angeles County. More specifically, it funds education enrichment, mentoring, youth leadership, and early learning/literacy causes.

FUNDING AREAS: Youth, education, mentorship, leadership, school readiness

IP TAKE: Most funding is program support, but general operating support is regularly offered, too. Pitch a youth program that teaches kids to be leaders and get engaged in Los Angeles communities.

PROFILE: In our Bay Area section, we profile the San Francisco-based Stuart Foundation, which focuses grantmaking on public education, education reform, and child welfare. The Dwight Stuart Youth Fund (DSYF) has been a grantmaking arm of the Stuart Foundation since 2010. However, it was originally established in 2001 by Dwight L. Stuart, Sr., who passed away in 1998, to support children and youth in the Greater Los Angeles area.

The merger was attributed to management efficiencies to carry out the long-term goals of the donors. Although raised in the Pacific Northwest, Stuart lived in Los Angeles for many years and served as president of the Carnation Company in the 1970s and 1980s.

The mission of the fund is to “support organizations that provide direct services and experiences to underserved children and youth so they may gain the skills, values, and confidence to achieve their potential.” There are four funding areas: education enrichment, mentoring, leadership, and school readiness.

The DSYF education enrichment funding area is all about well-rounded programs that take place before, during, and after school. It goes beyond pure academics and also supports arts & culture and community activities to teach skills and values. These are some of the sub-areas of education funding:

  • Sports and Recreation
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Cultural Enrichment
  • Homework Assistance and Tutoring
  • Language Arts and Literacy
  • Creative Writing
  • Field Trips and Camps
  • Career Guidance and Youth Employment
  • College Readiness and Educational Planning

The fund’s mentoring program is designed to connect kids and adults through long-term relationships that foster guidance and life skills. These are some of the mentoring programs that see the fund’s support:

  • Adult-Youth Mentoring
  • Team Mentoring
  • Peer Mentoring
  • Apprenticeships / Internships

Leadership grants typically go to nonprofit programs that teach kids to be leaders, rather than guide adults into becoming better leaders. Such programs include:

  • Youth Advocacy
  • Youth Organizing
  • Skills Development: Leadership, Written and Oral Communication
  • Programs Run by Youth
  • Community Service
  • Peer Counseling
  • Peer Education

And finally, DSYF’s school readiness focus area is targeted at pre-schoolers between the ages of two and five. These are the types of programs that the fund supports to build individualized curriculum, provide safe learning environments, and respect the culture of the community:

  • Cognitive Development
  • Language Development
  • Emotional Development
  • Literacy

Regardless of the focus area, Los Angeles County is the sole geographic focus of this funder. DSYF regularly provides project/program support and sustainability support, and looks for groups that collaborate with other similar services to reduce duplication. On its “do not fund” list, DSYF stays away from individuals, private foundations, building/capital campaigns, unrestricted endowments, medical and health programs, and all programs outside Los Angeles County.

DSYF also specializes in capacity building to enhance nonprofit functioning in areas like management, human resources, technology, and finance. These capacity building efforts are often directed at neighborhood based nonprofit challenged by hard economic times.

To start the application process, nonprofits should submit a letter of inquiry to the foundation director, Wendy Chang, via mail. Letters are accepted all throughout the year and reviewed in the order they are received. Provide your email address in your letter to receive an electronic acknowledgment of receipt.

Nonprofits can reapply for support any time after the final report due date and upon submitting a final report. A list of past grantees can be viewed by year and corresponding program on the foundation website.

Today, the Dwight Stuart Youth Fund’s board of advisors is made up of the founders four sons and his sister. A two-member staff, consisting of a director and an operations/program manager, run the day-to-day operations. The fund is headquartered on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

Overall, this is a funder that looks for grantees that respond to the evolving needs of their communities and communicate their purpose and goals succinctly. In practice, the fund aims to be flexible in its grantmaking, accessible to grantees and applicants, and open-minded in its approach.

Periodically check out the foundation’s Resources section for upcoming events, trainings, and publications. General inquiries should be directed to the staff at 310-777-5050 or submitted via online contact form.

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