Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation supports children, foster youth, at-risk youth, health, and hospitals in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California.

FUNDING AREAS: Children, foster youth, at-risk youth, health, hospitals

IP TAKE: Million-dollar grants are increasingly common with this low-profile funder, prompting more child-focused nonprofits in Los Angeles to contact Petersen for support.

PROFILE: Established in 1997, the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation is a private family foundation based in Pasadena, California. Robert Petersen was the founder and chairman of Petersen Publishing, created Hot Rod magazine, and established the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Robert Petersen passed away in 2007, and Margie Petersen passed away in 2012. The foundation’s grantmaking areas of interest include children, foster youth, at-risk youth, health, and hospitals.

The Petersen Foundation lacks transparency and does not maintain a website outlining its overall giving strategy, mission, or grantmaking goals for the future. However, it gives large grants to children and youth causes and in the form of unrestricted funds. This foundation also steadily supports causes for foster youth, transition-age youth, and at-risk youth in the local communities where it is based. Health and housing for youth are also important issue areas for this foundation.

This foundation regularly awards grants in the $1 million to $5 million range, although a substantial number of grants are less than this as well. Past major grantees include Five Acres, a child and family services nonprofit, Hillsides, a Southern California foster care organization, and United Friends of the Children for a foster youth housing program. Although the foundation does not appear to have strict geographic restrictions in place, almost all giving takes place in Los Angeles and elsewhere in Southern California. Grantseekers can learn more about this funder’s giving by examining its recent tax records.

The Petersen Foundation does not publish guidelines or deadlines for the local nonprofit community. It also does not appear that the foundation accepts unsolicited grant proposals. The foundation’s phone number is 626-395-0860.


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