William H. Hannon Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: Although the William H. Hannon Foundation’s primary focus is on Catholic causes in the Los Angeles area, this funder also awards grants to education, health, and social service nonprofits throughout the region. 

FUNDING AREAS: Catholic churches, Catholic schools, hospitals, social service causes

IP TAKE: The Hannon Foundation staff won’t field your calls or emails, but they do welcome unsolicited grant proposals. Browse through the foundation’s News and Releases page to get a sense of what types of organization the staff typically supports and how much the checks are written for.  

PROFILE: Based in Santa Monica, California, the William H. Hannon Foundation has been on the grantmaking scene for over 30 years. William H. Hannon was a Southern California real estate developer who was known for his generosity toward the Catholic community during his lifetime. After returning home from service in World War II, he developed residential communities and commercial shopping centers throughout the region.

Hannon established a foundation in his name in 1983, and he passed away in 1999. Over the past three decades, the Hannon Foundation has supported many Catholic schools, missions, hospitals, and other public and private nonprofit organizations in Southern California. Interestingly, Hannon erected nearly 100 life-size statues of the Blessed Serra, a Catholic saint, across California. You can see these statues at Santa Clara University, the University of San Diego, and various Catholic elementary school playgrounds. Hannon always encouraged students to rub the statues for good luck.

"I often refer to Serra as California's first subdivider," Hannon told the Tidings, a weekly newspaper published by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. "He picked sites with plenty of water, fertile soil, good foliage and no wind. Today, when people ask me where to buy land or build, I tell them, 'Build anywhere within five miles of a mission; that's where the land is best.’”

Hannon Foundation grantmaking is centered on the greater Los Angeles areas where Hannon lived and worked. Grants are made to organizations that played an important role in Mr. Hannon's life, and the foundation staff makes a point to keep his mission in mind when awarding grants. Prominent grantmaking areas include Catholic agencies and churches, elementary and secondary education, health care, and higher education. In the past, Hannon has awarded grants for capital campaigns, general operating support, building renovations, program development, and scholarship funds.

One really interesting foundation program here is Hannon’s Hawaii Fundraising Program. Hannon teamed up with Ed Hogan, Founder of Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, to launch its “Hawaii Fundraising Trips” program. Through this program, the foundation donates unrestricted funds to organizations to help them buy Hawaii trip packages at reduced costs to give away at their own fundraisers. That sure beats those exhausting cookie sales and holiday card fundraisers!

In a recent year, the Hannon Foundation reported over $24 million in assets and more than $3 million in total giving. Assets are down a bit from the past and were around $31 million just a couple years earlier. Approximately 321 grants were awarded in a prior year and those ranged in size between $35 and $625,000. Past Hannon grants have been awarded to distribute free eye glasses to students at Dolores Mission Elementary School in Boyle Heights, and the Catholic Textbook Project, which is producing a 12-volume series of studies textbooks and supporting materials specifically for Catholic school students. The foundation awarded 10 grants totaling $882,500 to Catholic schools and organizations in the first quarter of 2014.

“My late uncle, our foundation’s founder, was a devout Catholic and greatly benefited from his Catholic high school and college education,” Kathy Hannon Aikenhead, president of the William H. Hannon Foundation since 1994, told Angelus News. “We carry on his focus of helping Catholic schools and organizations throughout the areas where he lived and worked. His Catholic faith was central to his life and our Board of Directors understands this and keeps true to the founding principles of his foundation."

The Hannon Foundation seems to shun modern forms of communication and only accepts grant requests and general communications via mail. Therefore, you can’t make a phone call or send an email to get in touch with the staff. However, this foundation does accept unsolicited grant applications, which is good to know.  

According to the foundation website, grant proposals are considered at each quarterly Board of Directors meeting. Request letters should be received by August 1 for the September meeting; November 1 for the December meeting; February 1 for the March meeting; or May 1 for the June meeting. These letters must be accompanied by a standard list of documentation, which you can read in the Grant Application Procedures section. Applicants are notified of Hannon’s decision in writing within 30 days of the quarterly Board Meeting.

To get in touch with the Hannon Foundation, send a letter to 729 Montana Avenue, Suite 5, Santa Monica, CA 90403.


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