Colburn Foundation: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: The Colburn Foundation supports the classical music community, mostly in the Los Angeles Area and Greater Southern California. 

IP TAKE: The foundation has a strong web presence, but unsolicited requests are not encouraged. Grantseekers interested in approaching this funder should reach out to its grants administrator. Those working within classical music and classical music education in Southern California may have the best shot with Colburn. 

PROFILE: Created in 1999, the Colburn Foundation was founded by the late Richard D. Colburn, who steered Consolidated Electrical Distributors (CED). The foundation seeks “to promote a healthy and vibrant classical music community, primarily in Southern California, and to make grants to artistically excellent organizations for the performance and presentation of classical music, as well as for music education and the training of musicians.” Colburn does not fund individuals and discourages unsolicited applications.

The Colburn family was once on Forbes' Richest American Families list. Colburn was known for keeping a low profile, but apart from business, he also had a deep passion for the arts, particularly music. He was an amateur viola player for most of his life (he passed at the age of 92), and he was a lifetime director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a benefactor of the annual Colburn Celebrity Recitals, and a cofounder of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, among other civic involvements. Colburn also helped finance the Colburn School, a performing arts school in downtown Los Angeles that focuses on music and dance. 

The Colburn Foundation is now steered by a small board and staff, which includes several Colburn family members. The foundation is well-endowed with more than $153 million in assets and awards around $6 million in grants annually.

The foundation's past grantees include American Youth Symphony, which Colburn has supported since 2006, Arts for All to support in-school music programs, music scholarships at California Institute of the Arts, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Long Beach Opera, The New School - New York String Orchestra Seminar, and Taos School of Music. While Colburn clearly prioritizes Southern California in its grantmaking, organizations in other areas of the country like New York, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico also receive funding.

Most grants are under $100,000, and few exceed that number. However, the foundation continues to direct millions of dollars to the Colburn School, for instance. The Los Angeles Opera Company, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra have also been strongly supported. 

Grantseekers should be aware that the foundation does not fund individuals and discourages unsolicited requests. The first step for anyone looking to attract this funder's notice is to email grants administrator, Felix Racelis, at


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