Getting to Know the Comura Foundation, a Low-Key SoCal Funder



Funder collaborations are increasingly influential in local philanthropy, not only because of the power they wield, but also because they connect diverse foundations that might otherwise never cross paths. A good example is a grantmaker collaborative called the OC Opportunity Initiative in Southern California. Members of this initiative have joined together based on a belief that “philanthropy can and should play a defining role in shaping a successful immigrant integration strategy in Orange County.”

It has some big-name members that we’ve written about extensively at IP, including the Open Society Foundations, California Endowment, Weingart Foundation, and the Wells Fargo Foundation. But there are also other smaller funders in the mix, as well as individual donors. One thing that we love about getting to know funder collaboratives is that they introduce us to lesser-known foundations that are doing important work behind the scenes. One such funder is the Comura Foundation, which is a low-key Newport Beach grantmaker that flies below the radar. Here’s what we’ve learned about the Comura Foundation so far.

This is a Corliss Family Philanthropy

The Comura Foundation has deep roots in the financial industry, with finance winner Samuel B. Corliss, Jr. leading the foundation as its president, director, and treasurer. Corliss has served as the managing director of Merrill Lynch's public finance group and as a principal of Cape Andover Capital.

Samuel’s wife, Kathrine K. Corliss, is the foundation’s secretary and a director, while Cynthia L. Corliss of Wilmington, Delaware is the foundation’s vice president and director. This foundation is very much a family affair, as the Comura Foundation does not appear to employ any paid staff members.

More Than Just Immigration

The Comura Foundation came onto our radar because of its immigration work, but Comura has other funding interests in addition to this. Since its founding in 2000, the foundation has been most active in the social justice space and in the local faith community. Other interests are education and community recreation.

Grants Are Between $1,000 and $10,000

Although the Comura Foundation lacks transparency and does not have a website to guide grantseekers, we’ve gathered from its recent tax records that many grants are in the $1,000 to $10,000 range. For example, recent grantees include the Newport Aquatic Center, Augie’s Quest in San Diego, Charitable Ventures of Orange County, and Solutions for Urban AG in Irvine. However, this foundation does not welcome unsolicited requests for grants and only supports pre-selected organizations.

A Very SoCal Focus

The Comura Foundation is based in Newport Beach, California and centers its grantmaking in this region. Orange County communities in California typically see Comura’s grant support, especially Newport Beach. This is where the founders, Samuel and Kathrine Corliss, reside. However, other grants have gone to groups in Santa Ana, San Clemente, and Irvine.

We cover the work Comura Foundation and many more locally focused grantmakers in IP’s Los Angeles and SoCal Funding Guide, as well as on our local blog for this region.