Ittleson Foundation: Grants for Mental Health

OVERVIEW: Since its inception in 1932 by financial guru Henry Ittleson, the Ittleson Foundation has had a focus on mental health projects and initiatives. Two other areas of giving — AIDS and the Environment — have since been added to the roster.

IP TAKE: The Ittleson Foundation uses what it calls a "venture capitalist" approach when granting funds in the mental health area. High-risk, high-yield projects still in their early stages are funded over more conservative proposals. Along with a focus on adolescents, this concentration on innovation could either limit your chances or be a huge asset to those outfits just starting out. Don't expect a big payout, though; Ittleson grants rarely exceed $50,000.

PROFILE: The Ittleson Foundation has recognized mental health as a public health issue since way back in 1932. Its Mental Health grantmaking program revolves around the elimination of stigmas and stereotypes related to mental illness, improving access to mental health care, as well as to organizations working in preventative mental healthcare. Though Ittleson includes all age groups in its grantmaking, it has a special place in its heart for youth and adolescents, including the parents, teachers and caregivers that have close contact and relationships with young people. 

A relatively small grant maker, grant amounts tend to range from $5,000 to $50,000. Just because Ittleson is smaller than, say, HHMI, that doesn’t mean it should be discounted or passed over as a significant mental health grant maker. Unlike those big $100 million funders, Ittleson does not give grantmaking priorities to large organizations. This makes the Ittleson a great resource for smaller, community-based foundations. 

To learn more about the types of organizations Ittleson supports, take a look at its mental health grants list.

Ittleson's grant application process is pretty straightforward. Simply send a letter of inquiry to the Executive Director outlining your organization's project, along with a budget and proof of non-profit status. If the board decides your initiative falls within the foundation's targeted areas, then more information will be requested.

Keep in mind that though Ittleson awards grants on a national basis, much of the mental health funding is sent to New York-based organizations. Programs with a local focus that have little to no chance of national replication do not typically receive grants. All inquiry letters must be received by September 1st.

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