Christopher D. Smithers Foundation: Grants for Mental Health

OVERVIEW: The Smithers Foundation awards grants to a wide range of projects associated with alcoholism and substance abuse.  

IP TAKE: While it awards grants for treatment and recovery programs, Smithers has a heavy research and education focus in its alcoholism and substance abuse funding.

PROFILE: R. Brinkley Smithers founded the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation in 1952, in honor of his late father, with a mission to carry on the elder Smithers' legacy of giving. However, that all changed in the mid-1950s when R. Brinkley Smithers decided to refocus the foundation’s giving on alcoholism. The decision to change course was influenced by R. Brinkley Smithers’ own recovery from alcoholism, and his attendance at the Yale School of Alcoholic Studies.

Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is an extremely complex problem. While there continues to be some back and forth in the medical community in regard to its official classification as a disease, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) categorizes it as a psychiatric disorder.

The Smithers Foundation’s grantmaking is “solely concerned with alcoholism as a disease” in its grantmaking. In the early years, the foundation had the tendency to choose alcoholism related topics on which to focus its grantmaking, such as fighting social stigma, treatment programs, scientific and educational research, and prevention projects. Now, the foundation’s grantmaking is broader, supporting local national, and international efforts “addressing the myriad of problems experienced by alcohol and alcoholism.”

Smithers Foundation grants typically run from around $5,000 to $20,000 and very occasionally above the $20,000 mark. The foundation seems to favor New York based organizations; however, it does award grants to local, national, and international groups. The foundation accepts unsolicited proposals throughout the year.

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