The Rose Hills Foundation: Los Angeles Area Grants

OVERVIEW: The Rose Hills Foundation was established from the sale of the largest cemetery in North America back in 1996. The Board of Directors keep an open mind when considering grant proposals, but most grantees have received funding for programs related to higher education, the natural sciences, and engineering.

FUNDING AREAS: Higher education, natural sciences, engineering

IP TAKE: Rose Hills Foundation grants can be all over the board in terms of size and subject matter. However, one constant is that the Board of Directors gives strong preference to nonprofits that operate in and serve Los Angeles County. Rose Hills grants range from around $10,000 to $1 million.

PROFILE: We’ve got a trivia question for you: What’s the largest cemetery in North America? It’s Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California, and the sale of this cemetery paved the way one of Southern California’s most interesting localized grantmakers. The Rose Hills Foundation is a legacy of the founders and directors of this 1,400-acre cemetery and memorial park, which is well-known for its feng shui and Asian burial traditions. For a price tag of $240 million, the cemetery was sold in 1996 to Service Corporation International, formerly Loewen Group, one of the nation’s largest funeral and cemetery companies.

With cash from the sale securities, and some real estate, the Rose Hill Foundation started off with $250 million in assets and an intention to give $12 to $13 million away to Southern California nonprofits each year. "What captivated us was that... we could ensure that Rose Hills would continue, and we would have all this money to give away," said John Argue, Chairman of the Rose Hills Memorial Park Foundation and founder of the Los Angeles law firm of Argue, Pearson, Harbison & Myers. "My guess is we will be inundated with grant proposals.”

Today, the Rose Hills Foundation is a place-based grantmaker that provides funding for nonprofits based in and serving Los Angeles County. Preferential treatment is given to nonprofits that exhibit the following qualities:

  • A history of achievement, good management, and a stable financial condition
  • Programs that are self-sustaining and will not necessitate continued dependence on the Foundation
  • Significant programs with the promise of making a measurable impact
  • Programs where the Foundation's gift is matched or multiplied
  • Programs consistent with the Foundation's current funding priorities
  • Programs which will benefit people of Southern California
  • Programs which will reach the greatest number of people at the most reasonable cost
  • Organizations that allocate a high percentage of their operating expenses directly to their programs

There really aren’t any hard or fast deadlines to apply for a grant because the foundation processes applications throughout the year and distributes money three times per year. But keep in mind that up to six months could pass before you receive a response to your application. Rose Hill grants can be anywhere from $10,000 to $1 million, depending on the nature of the project.

The foundation has a strong interest in the natural sciences and engineering. Higher education is also a common grantmaking area; however, this foundation leaves the door open to shifting its priorities over time. As a general rule, hospitals, government agencies, individuals, endowments, political, and religious programs are not supported by this grantmaker.

Recent grants funded the Rose Hills Foundation Summer Science and Research Fellowships at Pomona College, Rose Hill Summer Research Fellowships in science and engineering at the University of Southern California, and a program for community college students to engage in environmental research at Oak Crest Institute of Science.

To get started, you’ll need to send a brief letter of inquiry to the Foundation President, Victoria B. Rogers. LOIs should be no more than two pages and include a standard array of organization and program information. This is one of the few foundations that still enjoys snail mail, so you’ll need to buy some stamps. Electronic and fax LOIs are not accepted. The staff also seriously frowns upon application materials delivered by FedEx and courier service.

The Rose Hills Foundation is operated by a small staff of seven operating out of an office in Pasadena. General inquiries can be submitted by email to info@rosehillsfoundation.org.

PEOPLE:                                                                                                              

  • Victoria B. Rogers, President
  • Li-Ling Wang, Program Officer
  • Rebecca Newman, Program Officer 

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