Thomas & Dorothy Leavey Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports medical research, education, and Catholic organizations. Unlike other foundations in the area, Leavey awards grants to individuals as well.

IP TAKE: The Leavey Foundation makes grants quietly and often anonymously. Los Angeles-based organizations definitely have an advantage over the competition, and past grantmaking shows funds to be evenly disbursed among medical, educational, and Catholic organizations.

PROFILE: Based in Los Angeles, the Leavey Foundation was created by Thomas and Dorothy Leavey in 1952. Thomas Leavey co-founded Farmers Insurance in 1928 based on the premise that rural drivers should pay less for insurance because they encountered less risk than their urban-dwelling counterparts. After the insurance company became one of the most successful in the nation, Leavey and his wife started the Thomas & Dorothy Leavey Foundation to share their fortune with medical, religious, and educational institutions they supported. Although the husband-and-wife cofounders, Thomas and Dorothy Leavey, are now deceased, their daughter Kathleen has stayed true to her parents' wishes and style since she started running the foundation.

The Leavey Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable organizations, including the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Music Center, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. Since Kathleen took over the operations, she's overseen funding for Los Angeles grants that have included $2 million to Loyola Marymount University, $1 million to Saint Paul the Apostle Church, $500,000 to Homeboy Industries, and $250,000 to Sisters of Nazareth of Los Angeles.

Grants to organizations average between $1,000 and $1 million. And unlike most other foundations in the area, Leavey awards grants to individuals as well. These average $3,000 each. 

The foundation does not have a website, and provides no clear guidelines for grant seekers. Grant seekers can reach Kathleen Leavey directly at 310-551-9936.

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