The Broad Foundations: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Broad Foundations were created with the wealth of founder Eli Broad's two Fortune 500 companies, KB Home and SunAmerica. It focuses its grantmaking in four common areas: education, science, arts, and civic, and it's slighty partial to Los Angeles, where the Broads have lived for decades.

FUNDING AREAS: Contemporary arts, elementary/secondary school reform, medical research, and science, civic projects

IP TAKE: If your organization is based in Los Angeles, you should look to The Broad Foundations for education grants first and art grants second. Hard work pays off in Eli Broad's eyes, so you'll have to go above and beyond to get noticed. Not to mention, the foundations do not have a specific Los Angeles gratnmaking program. Grantseekers will have to compete with everyone else for Broad's dollars.

PROFILE: If you've ever stashed money away for a home or your retirement, you're probably already familiar with the Broads. The Broad Foundations were created with the wealth of founder Eli Broad's two Fortune 500 companies, KB Home and SunAmerica. The philanthropy's impressive assets (around $2 billion) serve as a testament to Eli Broad's hard work and pursuing the American dream.

Born to immigrant parents, Eli got his start in the Detroit Public Schools system and became the youngest CPA in Michigan's history after securing an accounting degree from Michigan State (Broad minored in economics). On a hunch that houses could be mortgaged cheaper without basements, Eli turned his entrepreneurial attention to home-building and retirement investments.

Although Eli didn't direct his full attention to philanthropy until 1999, following SunAmerica's merger with insurance giant AIG, the family foundation has been around since the 1960s. The wealthy couple created the foundation to support their charitable causes but quickly realized they could approach philanthropy with a business mindset. By borrowing a few pages from Eli's career playbook, the Broad Foundations incorporate venture capital finance to keep its kindhearted staff on a straight and narrow financial track.

The Broad Foundations focus grantmaking in three common areas: Education, science, and art.  For education grantseekers, Broad tends to favor K-12 urban public schools and programs that improve management and labor relations. One of Broad's most significant K-12 educational contributions was a $5.9 million grant to identify, train, and support public school leaders in Los Angeles. In the past, Broad awarded $1 million to the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, a non-profit charter school management company that operates middle schools and high schools in Los Angeles. Instead of pandering to the status quo, Broad once pointed out 75 ways that bureaucracy is standing in the way of teachers and students.

The foundation focuses its science giving primarily on university-affiliated medical research facilities, including $10 million for regeneration medicine and stem cell research at the University of California and $70,000 to the California Institute of Technology for general research. Art grants are made for programs that foster public appreciation of contemporary art, primarily for art lending and new acquisitions in Los Angeles museums. Broad works of art have been on loan and on display at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, and Fowler Museum at UCLA, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. 

The Broad Education Foundation is one of the most outspoken advocates for radial education projects like replacing traditional public schools with a marketplace of privately-run schools and for-profit vendors. Broad is in good company with the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and business icons like Rupert Murdoch. The foundation's "Broad Prize" program has received both praise and criticism from educational leaders. The prize recognizes progress in urban school systems, even if the overall performance rates are very low. 

Although these grants reach other states and countries as well, the Broads are partial to Los Angeles, where they've lived since 1963. Of the focus areas, medical research often draws most of Broad's assets. However, for a Los Angeles-based organization looking to get Broad's nod of approval, its education and arts programs also dole out a good amount of financial support to LA based organizations.

If you're looking for nicely outlined grant application procedures, you won’t find them at The Broad Foundations. Organizations looking for a quick fix will likely miss out on finding Broad support because the foundations don't exactly make the process of soliciting funds easy. Reach out to the staff o get your foot in the door and get a sense of how the process works. The Broad Foundations don't make a habit of accepting unsolicited proposals.


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