Otis Booth Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports the arts, higher education, and human services. Booth grants tend to be large — well into the million-dollar range.

IP TAKE: Since Otis Booth's death, his son-in-law has taken the philanthropic reins and makes grants to various program areas in Los Angeles. Grants are large, well-publicized, and difficult to get. The foundation does not have a website, and provides no clear guidelines for grant seekers.

PROFILE:  Otis Booth Foundation was established in 1967, after investment mogul Otis Booth secured his fortune at the Los Angeles Times and Berkshire Hathaway. Booth passed away from complications of Lou Gehrig's disease in his Los Angeles home in 2008. The foundation alternates its grantmaking between several programs to accommodate a wide range of nonprofits in the Los Angeles area. The foundation prioritized human services, arts, and higher education in past years. However, despite the program area the foundation prioritizes, its grantmaking stays in Los Angeles.

The Otis Booth Foundation awarded an unprecedented and highly publicized grant of $13 million to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The trustees at the museum were nearly speechless because this grant was the largest private gift it had ever received in its 100-year history. The Otis Booth Pavilion prominently showcases the museum's 63-foot-long fin whale via pedestrian bridge. Some of Booth's other major grants around the city have included $4.53 million to the Children's Institute, $2.66 million to John Thomas Dye School, $2.25 million to Los Angeles ICEF Public Schools, and $1 million to KIPP LA Schools. The foundation also made headlines with a $5 million grant to the University of Southern California's athletic services programs.

In a past year, the foundation reported over $204 million in assets and more than $9.6 million in total grantmaking.

Although almost all of Booth's grants support education and arts programs, it does make grants to agriculture programs. Booth was a rancher-on-the-side and always supported agricultural leadership initiatives around the world.

The Booth Foundation does not have a website, and it will not consider unsolicited grant proposals. Murray continues to follow his father-in-law's philanthropic interests and only contributes funds to pre-selected organizations, but most of them are in Los Angeles. Although the grants mentioned above are exceptionally large, grants range between $1,000 and $5 million. The foundation usually makes 80 to 100 grants per year. Grant seekers can contact the foundation directly at 310-471-2575.

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