Merkin Family Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Merkin Family Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of Richard N. Merkin. Merkin's Los Angeles grantmaking focuses in on education, health and the arts. 

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Health, Arts & Culture

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

PROFILE: In 1979, Richard N. 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."

Merkin moves his philanthropy through the Merkin Family Foundation, which held nearly $90 million in assets in a recent year and gave away around $6.6 million. While a component of Merkin's philanthropy involves the East Coast—where he's funded 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. Unfortunately for grantseekers, the foundation doesn't have much of a web presence or a clear way to get in touch.

One area of interest for Merkin is education. 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 opened in September 2005, primarily serves Latino students, and shares a campus with Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School. The foundation has recently supported outfits 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 has received millions from Merkin.

Given Merkin's background, it's no surprise that health and medical research is also a strong interest. Merkin has set up the Richard Merkin Foundation for Neural Regeneration at UCLA. Recent research bankrolled by this outfit may improve recovery for stroke sufferers. In the 2013 fiscal year, a $175,000 grant went to Prostate Cancer Foundation, with other support recently going to Cedars Sinai. Funds have also gone to the X Prize Foundation in Culver City, "an educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity." The X-Prize Foundation received a $580,000 grant in 2013. 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 has also been a steady supporter of arts and culture in Los Angeles. Sums have gone to Los Angeles Ballet, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. LACMA alone received a total $300,000 in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.

Support has also gone to 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