Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation is laser-focused on making grants to education outfits in New York City and is particularly interested in helping people overcome socioeconomic barriers to graduate from public high school and college.

IP TAKE: The foundation flies well under the radar, with a minimal web presence. On the other hand, the foundation's 990s disclose quite a bit of information about the foundation's mission and aims. Unfortunately, this foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for funds.

PROFILE:  Leslie Sillcox worked at Goldman Sachs for many years, making partner in the early 1990s, and rising to the rank of CIO. She retired last decade. Sillcox and her husband Mark move their charitable contributions through the Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation whose mission is to "contribute to the steadily growing number of young people in New York City who overcome socioeconomic barriers to graduate from public high school - and then from college - prepared for meaningful employment and robust civic participation."

Sillcox and Mark were inspired in particular by the Bloomberg and Klein administration's commitment to "bring fundamental structural change to the New York City public school system." The Foundation donates $2.5 million to $3.5 million annually, primarily in the field of NYC public education with individual grants typically on the order of few hundred thousand annually. The foundation does give out quite a few multi-year grants.

While the couple's foundation flies under the radar, with a minimal web presence, the foundation's 990s are full of written descriptions about its mission and aims from year to year. Unfortunately, this foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for funds. Still, getting a handle on exactly what this wealthy couple is looking for in its education grantees is eased by the detail of the foundation's tax forms.

For instance, a past 990 includes a chart of the foundation's priority areas in the K-12 NYC education reform space. Pre-K schools and gifted student programs, for instance, were recently low on the foundation's priority list. On the other hand, the foundation was recently rather interested in such areas as public high schools, the CUNY and SUNY system, school support and management organizations, nonprofit college access and persistence organizations, and policy makers (namely the NY State Education Department).

In a recent fiscal year, a sampling of grantees includes a five year $1 million commitment to Bottom Line, a "community based nonprofit dedicated to helping low-income students get into college, graduate from college, and go far in life," "CUNY at Home in College, a "transition program that works with students from NYC public high schools to graduate but who have not met tradition benchmarks of college readiness," Uncommon Schools, Urban Assembly, NYC Outward Bound/Expeditionary Learning Schools, and New Visions for Public Schools.

The couple also has an interest STEM learning. They've funded City Polytechnic High School of Engineering, and 100Kin10, recently pledging $1 million to fund initiatives that increase the number of low-income New York City public school students engaged in rigorous STEM courses through the recruitment and support of effective STEM teachers.

PEOPLE:

  • Leslie C. Sillcox, Trustee
  • Mark E. Sillcox, Trustee

CONTACT:

The Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the couple, but below is an address:

Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation
77 Water St., 9th Fl.
New York City, NY 10005