Weingart Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Weingart Foundation awards grants to established nonprofits in the areas of health, human services, and education. Because of Weingart's dedication to the Los Angeles area, grants are limited to six counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernadino, and Ventura. 

FUNDING AREAS: Health, human services, and education

IP TAKE: The Weingart Foundation is straightforward about its grantmaking process, making it one of the easiest foundations to submit a grant application to in Los Angeles. But Weingart awards lots of small to midsize grants, so don't expect millions of dollars.

PROFILE: To start learning about this funder, check out the Fiscal Year Program Plan. Starting in 2017, all foundation grantmaking will focus on fighting inequality. Unlike some philanthropic organizations in Los Angeles, Weingart makes its intentions well known and spells out its strategies for all to see. For nonprofits used to struggling to make heads or tails of grantmaking guidelines, Weingart is a breath of fresh air.

Ben and Stella Weingart started the foundation in 1951 after making their fortune in the real estate business. But unlike many rich philanthropists in the city, Ben Weingart began life in poverty as an orphan with an unmatched entrepreneurial spirit. Weingart was best known as the man who created the first planned city in Southern California: Lakewood. In an area once filled with sugar-beet and bean fields, Weingart built a post-World War II era city with 18,000 new homes, one of the region's first shopping malls, and community service centers. Not only did Weingart's creation transform Los Angeles into one of the country's most prominent urban centers, but it also served as a model for suburban planning around the United States.

Because of Weingart's dedication to the Los Angeles area, grants are limited to seven counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernadino, and Ventura. San Diego County used to be on this list to make seven, but no longer makes the cut.

In the health area, Weingart has funded everything from nursing homes to substance abuse programs and rehabilitation facilities. In education, the foundation funds all levels of schooling, from preschool to master's program providers. And in human services, violence prevention programs, homeless shelters, and youth training organizations see the most grant dollars rolling in. However, Weingart never funds programs for research, environmental advocacy, religious programs, consumer interest groups, or political activities.

A list of recent grants can be found in the Grants Database. The foundation has about $799 million in assets, and it tends to release between 500-700 grants each year ranging from $200 to $1 million.

Weingart's grantmaking strategy is to give a substantial — but not overwhelmingly large — grant to as many causes as it can each year. So while you shouldn't rely on Weingart to be the primary funding source for your organization's program, you have a good chance at getting a piece of the foundation's budget if you're in Los Angeles.

The foundation accepts requests for unrestricted operating support as part of it's focus on equity. There's a two-step process to requesting a grant over $25,000. You can also request a grant from the Expanding Opportunity Fund, which used to be known as the Small Grants Program. This if for requests under $25,000 and for organizations with annual operating budgets under $1 million. 

Since it is taking a new direction with its grantmaking, check the funder's website frequently for updates and changes as it learns from its new procedures.

In a foundation blog post by staff members, Fred Ali and Belen Vargas, the duo wrote, "We stress, however, that our core support grants are truly unrestricted.  The organization will not be held to a predetermined line-item budget, and they will be free to deploy our resources as best fits their challenges and opportunities."

There are currently a few program officers on the Weingart payroll. However, the foundation website provides insightful biographies on all its program officers, and each is a little more experienced in one program area more than another. Letters of inquiry can be conveniently completed online, and questions about the application process should be directed to Grants Administrator Priscilla Savage at 213-688-6311.

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