Millions for Los Angeles: How the Otis Booth Foundation Gives Locally

photo: Chones/shutterstock

photo: Chones/shutterstock

Founded in 1967 and based in Los Angeles, the Otis Booth Foundation is known for its multi-million-dollar gifts. Although this foundation doesn’t have a website or make itself particularly accessible to grantseekers, it’s still an important one to know because of the sheer size of its giving and its longstanding dedication to Southern California.

Here are a few key points for local grantseekers in Los Angeles to understand about the Otis Booth Foundation.

A Broad Range of Interest Areas

Unlike the many funders who fly under the radar until announcing news of a big grant, the Otis Booth Foundation spreads its money across a wide variety of local causes. It supports everything from education to the arts, hospitals, and youth organizations in the Los Angeles area. Lately, the foundation has been giving out approximately 80 to 100 grants per year.

Past grantees include All Saints Church in Beverly Hills, the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The founder dabbled in ranching during his lifetime, and the foundation continues to support agricultural initiatives like the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation in Salinas. It also supports animal welfare organizations, including dog shelters.

Education is Always a Top Cause

While Booth’s interests are diverse, education groups almost always come out on top. The largest Booth grants tend to go to educational institutions such as the one for the University of Southern California’s stadium’s Otis Booth Press Box.

The foundation has also supported the engineering and applied science program at California Institute of Technology, a capital campaign for Crane Country Day School in Santa Barbara, and operating support for Harvard Westlake School in Los Angeles. Smaller local schools often receive grants in the $10,000 to $25,000 range, while million-dollar grants are typically reserved for higher education institutions that are already very involved with foundation pursuits.

The Foundation is a Family-Run Affair

This foundation started with Franklin Otis Booth Jr., a businessman with the investment company Berkshire Hathaway. The founder passed away in 2008 from complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease in his Los Angeles home. Since then, Booth’s son-in-law, Palmer Murray, has served as a spokesman for the foundation and as vice president, treasurer and assistant secretary.

Other family members involved with the foundation include Lynn A. Booth, who serves as the foundation’s current president, and Loren Booth. Lynn is also the president of the Evening Star Foundation and is involved with many civic and cultural institutions in Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Council Advisory Board of the Los Angeles Library Foundation. Meanwhile, Loren is known as something of a renaissance woman and is president and owner of Booth Ranches.

In a recent year, the foundation reported over $175 million in total net assets, which is down a bit from previous years. Meanwhile, foundation giving has increased by the year, with over $10 million in contributions, gifts and grants paid annually. Learn more about how this funder operates in the Los Angeles area by reading IP’s full profile in our L.A. and SoCal funder’s guide.