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 funds grants for treatment and recovery programs, Smithers prioritizes heavy research and education 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, 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 involvement with the Yale School of Alcoholic Studies. The foundation seeks to educate “the public that alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder are respectable, treatable medical illness from which people can and do recover;” encourage “prevention programs and activities, with an emphasis on high risk populations;” and fight “to reduce and eliminate the stigma that is associated with the medical illness of addiction.”

Early in its existence, the foundation prioritized alcoholism related topics, such as fighting social stigma, treatment programs, scientific and educational research, and prevention projects. Now, the foundation’s grantmaking is broader and has expanded to include opioid addiction.

Smithers Foundation grants typically run from around $5,000 to $20,000 and very occasionally above the $20,000 mark. The foundation seems to prioritize 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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