Merkin Family Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Merkin Family Foundation is the philanthropic organization of Richard N. Merkin. Merkin's Los Angeles grantmaking prioritizes education, health and the arts. 

IP TAKE: The Merkin Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch and does not have much of a web presence.

PROFILE: Merkin Family Foundation was established by Richard N. Merkin and held nearly $90 million in assets in a recent year and made grants of around $6.6 million. In 1979, Merkin founded the predecessor to Heritage Provider Network (HPN), which currently serves over 700,000 individuals in California, making it one of the largest IPAs in the United States. Merkin also cofounded FasterCures, an “action think tank that seeks to speed up the time it takes to get important new medicines from discovery to patients."

While a component of Merkin's philanthropy involves the East Coast—where he supported the Richard Merkin Foundation for Stem Cell Research at the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT, and the Richard Merkin Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Brain Sciences Institute—a bulk of the foundation's grantmaking focuses in on Los Angeles.

Education is one of Merkin’s funding areas. Last decade, he helped establish the Alliance Merkin Middle School, "a free public charter school developed and operated by the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools and authorized by the Los Angeles Unified School District." The school primarily serves Latino students, and shares a campus with Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School. The foundation has recently supported organizations such as Inner City Education Foundation Public Schools, and to United Friends of the Children which "empowers current and former foster youth on their journey to self-sufficiency through service-enriched education and housing programs, advocacy, and consistent relationships with a community of people who care." Caltech is another past grantee.

Given Merkin's background, it is unsurprising that health and medical research is also a grantmaking priority. Merkin established the Richard Merkin Foundation for Neural Regeneration at UCLA. Recent research funded by this organization may improve recovery for stroke sufferers. Grants have also supported the X Prize Foundation in Culver City, "an educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity." Merkin also launched the Heritage Health Prize, a $3 million" global incentivized competition seeking to achieve a fundamental breakthrough in our ability to predict future hospitalization."

Merkin also supports arts and culture in Los Angeles. Grants support Los Angeles Ballet, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. LACMA alone received a total $300,000 several years in a row.

Merkin also supports Homeboy Industries, which "provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women," the Milken Institute, "an independent economic think tank whose mission is to improve the lives and economic conditions of people," and the Miguel Contreras Foundation, a "nonprofit organization founded out of the Los Angeles labor movement to honor union leader Miguel Contreras."


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The Merkin Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch but below is an address

Merkin Family Foundation

3115 Ocean Front Walk, No. 301

Marina Del Rey, CA 90292