Libra Foundation

OVERVIEW: This private funder is solely focused on the state of Maine, supporting arts, culture and humanities, education, environment, health, human services, justice, public/society benefit, and religion.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts, culture and humanities, education, environment, health, human services, justice, public/society benefit, religion

IP TAKE: This Maine-focused funder likes to give lots of small grants to many groups rather than large grants to just a few. Aim small and apply often.

PROFILE: The Libra Foundation is based in Portland, Maine, and was established in 1989. This is one of the largest foundations in Maine and is the legacy of Elizabeth B. Noyce. The name, Libra, was chosen because of its connection to fairness, balance, and diversity for all populations.

Libra Foundation grantmaking is limited to organizations and activities within the state of Maine. Topics of interest are arts, culture and humanities, education, environment, health, human services, justice, public/society benefit, and religion. Most grants here do not exceed $25,000. The funder does not typically support annual campaigns for regular operations, multiyear gifts, individuals, fellowships, travel expenses, or loans.

There is a formal application process which generates the bulk of the annual requests for funding. However, the foundation does proactively solicit some Maine nonprofits to apply for grants and also undertakes special programs of its own. 

Between 1989 and 2018, Libra Foundation grants exceeded $193 million. See grants awarded by topic on the Grants List page on their website. Recently, the majority of grant money has gone to public/society benefit, followed by environment and arts, culture, and humanities. Major Libra projects include the Maine Winter Sports Center and Pineland Farms. Current financial data can be viewed here.

To apply for a Libra grant, complete a two-page application, which is accessible from their website. The foundation is governed by a board of four trustees who meet four times per year, in March, June, September, and December. Requests must be received by the 15th of the prior month to be considered at each board meeting.

The trustees are Pendred E. Noyce, William J. Ryan, Owen W. Wells, and Craig N. Denekas. Noyce is the daughter of the foundation’s founder and became a founding trustee in 1991. Wells was a partner in a local law firm and formerly served as the president and CEO. Ryan is a retired chairman of the board of TD Bank. Since 2012, Denekas has been the CEO of Libra. Jere G. Michelson is the current president, COO, and CFO.

General questions can be directed to (207) 879-6280 or by mail to Three Canal Plaza, Suite 500, P.O. Box 17516, Portland, Maine 04112-8516. Email correspondence is not encouraged.

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