Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The foundation's Los Angeles grantmaking supports educational causes, as well as policy, the arts, and more. The Nazarians are strong supporters of Jewish causes, which informs the work the family does both in L.A. and beyond. 

IP TAKE: The foundation has a strong web presence, with a website that lists guidelines and grants. The foundation accepts letters of inquiry and grant proposals by invitation only.

PROFILE: Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of Younes Nazrian, his wife Soraya, and family. It seeks to promote “education as the most important catalyst for societal change.” Sharon, the couple's daughter, serves as foundation president. She is also an adjunct professor at UCLA. Younes Nazarian, born in Iran, came to the U.S. decades ago and settled in Los Angeles. He was an early investor in Qualcomm and founded Nazarian Enterprises. One of the couple's sons, Sam, is at the helm of hospitality company SBE. This is a prominent L.A.-area family that focus much of their philanthropy on the region.

The Y&S Nazarian Foundation clearly outlines its funding priorities. More than 50 percent of grants support education. The second highest priority area is research on policy making, with nearly a quarter of grants. Arts and culture, Jewish causes, and Iranian causes are other interests. Though Jewish causes might not be listed as the top priority area by the foundation, supporting these causes is important to the family. A separate foundation called the Ima Foundation focuses exclusively on Israel. In addition, some of the family's work in other areas intersects with Jewish causes.

For instance, last decade, the Nazarian Family Foundation made a $5 million grant to UCLA to create the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, which promotes the study of the history, culture, and society of Israel. The family has continued to support UCLA through the years. Other education grantees in the Los Angeles area include USC, home to the Nazarian Pavillion.

The Nazarians also support policy organizations in Los Angeles. They have supported organizations like the Pacific Council on International Policy, and the RAND Corporation. The family have helped fund the RAND Israel Project to explore energy alternatives. The family has also supported RAND Policy and Public Safety Project.

Arts are another important cause. Grantees include Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, and Inner City Arts. The family foundation also created the Soraya Sarah Nazarian Program in Fine Arts, at American Jewish University in Bel Air. Soraya has been taking sculpting classes at American Jewish University for decades.

The Nazarians also support Jewish causes in Los Angeles. They have given millions to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. They have also supported the Iranian American Jewish Federation, and Sinai Temple, among others. Those looking to get this family's attention will need to network, as the foundation does not accept uninvited proposals.

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