May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust supports the “dignity, agency, and self-sufficiency” of foster youth, the elderly, veterans and people with disabilities.

IP TAKE: The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust is focused on the Western U.S., including substantial support in Southern California (centered in Los Angeles but also capturing the greater region). But within this geography, this funder is focused on specific populations in need. This funder also looks for rigor—programs that are well-established and already financially supported by others.

PROFILE: The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust was established in 1989 to carry on the giving legacy of May and Stanley Smith, who made their fortune primarily in the world of iron ore mining in Malaysia. The mission of the trust is to support “organizations that offer opportunities to children and youth; adults and families; elders; and people with disabilities that enrich the quality of life, promote self-sufficiency, and assist individuals in achieving their highest potential.”

The trust’s support flows through four focus areas: Foster Youth, Elders, Veterans, andPeople with Disabilities. This means, of course, that your program must address the needs of at least one of these specific populations.

The other specificity is geography, which is good news if you're reading this. The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust explicitly directs its giving to the Western U.S., though its definition of the West is broad, defining it as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. (For the record, the trust also gives to British Columbia, Canada.)

The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust provides a rigorous assessment of the needs of all of the populations it supports, and therefore the trust’s goals in each area—as well as discussions of what a successful program would therefore look like. Be sure to read these rubrics comprehensively before attacking the trust’s application.

And attack it you must, because while it begins with an LOI open to all, it is a rigorous one, requiring specific outcomes past and future, as well as comprehensive financial reporting. The trust explicitly states that start-ups, emerging organizations, and new programs are not eligible for its support, and this makes perfect sense once you delve into the LOI—there is no way a new organization or program therein could discuss financials and recent outcomes with the rigor this funder requires. If you have been around long enough, still be aware that the trust ideally looks for organizations with yearly operating budgets of at least $250,000 and those with less than 70% of costs supported by government funding. (The application provides a notably thoughtful section in which to discuss your organization’s relationship with government funding, and why private support is important to your program/organization.)

The good news if you check these boxes: the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust makes healthy-sized grants, typically ranging from $30,000 - $100,000 per year, and will give multi-year gifts for both program and general operating costs.

Past Los Angeles area grantees working with Foster Youth include Sanctuary of Hope, (Los Angeles, CA) "to provide comprehensive support services to foster youth in South Los Angeles" with $70,000 over two years. It also provided $250,000 over two years to The Alliance for Children's Rights (Los Angeles, CA) "to ensure L.A.'s foster youth have the stable homes, health care, and education they need to thrive." In total for 2015, across all states, the trust distributed $4,434,000 to 40 different organizations working with foster youth.

Past Los Angeles area grantees working with the Elderly include Pools of Hope (Long Beach, CA) "to improve the health and wellness of low-income elders through aquatic exercise" with $50,000 over two years. The trust also granted $120,000 over two years to Senior Concerns (Thousand Oaks, CA) "to offer diverse programs that support the health and well-being of elders and family caregivers." In total for 2015, the trust distributed $3,555,000 to 41 different organizations working with the elderly.

Past Los Angeles region grantees working with Veterans include the Downtown Women's Center (Los Angeles, CA) "to provide housing placement and intensive case management to chronically homeless female veterans in Los Angeles" with $75,000. It also granted $100,000 to New Directions for Veterans (Los Angeles, CA) "to provide substance abuse treatment, counseling, vocational education, and housing services to veterans and families." In total across all states in 2015, the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust distributed $3,635,000 to 34 programs in this sector.

In the trust’s People with Disabilities focus area, recent Los Angeles area grantees include Bet Tzedek (Los Angeles, CA) "to provide free legal services to low-income adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families/caregivers" with $150,000 over two years. The trust also granted $100,000 over two years to Mychal’s Learning Place (Hawthorne, CA) "to provide independent living skills and job training/placement for young adults" with developmental disabilities. Overall in 2015 the trust gave $5,075,000 in this focus area to 40 organizations.

The May and Stanley Smith’s Charitable Trust’s LOI is rolling; if you’re ready for its rigor, you can apply at any time.

PEOPLE:

  • Ruth Collins, Administrator
  • Frank A. Lalle, Director of Programs 
  • Elizabeth Cutler, Program Officer - Foster Youth 
  • Bill Lockwood, Program Officer - Veterans
  • Laura E. Mason, Program Officer - Elders 
  • Lisa L. Trygg, Program Officer - People with Disabilities 
  • Dan Gaff, Grants Manager