Thomas C. Ackerman Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports San Diego area nonprofits in K-12 and STEM education, arts, music, and economic development. Letters of inquiry are accepted throughout the year.

FUNDING AREAS: K-12 education, arts, music, economic development

IP TAKE: This private funder is all about San Diego and K-12 education, so don’t deviate from these priorities when submitting a letter of inquiry.  

PROFILE: The Thomas C. Ackerman Foundation was established in 1991 and serves San Diego, California. The foundation was created with assets from the estate of Thomas C. Ackerman,  who was born in San Diego in 1927, attended San Diego State College, and went to the School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. He became a partner at the San Diego law firm of Gray Cary Ames & Frye and wished to continue supporting his hometown even after his death.

The foundation focuses on K-12 education, arts, music, and the economic development of San Diego. It has supported more than 650 organizations and granted in excess of $7 million in the San Diego region. K-12 STEM education is a top priority and has been since 2005. Underserved parts of San Diego County are the focus of these grants. To a lesser degree, grants still go to human services, community development, and culture.

Ackerman mainly funds projects that will become self-sufficient or will obtain other sources of funding, however, multiyear grants are occasionally awarded. It does not award grants for human medical or biomedical research; occasional support goes to religious organizations. Around 48 percent of recent grants have gone to education, 24 percent to health and human services, 13 percent to community development, eight percent to culture, and seven percent to miscellaneous/endowment.

To apply for an Ackerman grant, submit an online letter of inquiry of three pages or less. Expect the LOI review process to take six to 12 weeks. The foundation will invite groups to submit formal grant applications electronically. The board of directors typically meets in February, September, and December. Past application deadlines have fallen in early September and late November.

Grant applicants must be established and operating in San Diego County for over a year. This is a locally specific funder that sticks to its founder's geographic and topical interests. The organization's financial information can be viewed here.

The best way to get in touch is to email The phone is (619) 741-0113, and the address is 101 West Broadway, Suite 900, San Diego, California 92101. Robert G. Copeland is the president, Kenneth G. Coveney is the vice president, Lynne Newman is the administrator, and there are 10 directors on the board.


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