Anthony C. Wood, Ittleson Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: AIDS, the environment, mental health

CONTACT: (212) 794-2008

IP TAKE: Wood is a leading expert on historic preservation in New York, but he's also spent more than two decades in philanthropy. The grants he oversees at Ittleson are not necessarily numerous or high-dollar, but they aim to support projects that can serve as pilots or models for larger efforts down the road.

PROFILE: Anthony Wood is a preservationist at heart. His 2008 book, entitled Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City's Landmarks, delves into the history of New York's preservation movement, from St. John's Chapel (built in 1803 and demolished in 1918) to the (ultimately unsuccessful) efforts to keep Penn Station from getting destroyed in the 1960s. Wood, a faculty member in the preservation program at Columbia University, is or has been affiliated with a slew of historic preservation groups, most of them New York-centric. Wood even founded one: the New York Preservation Archive Project, a non-profit devoted to— what else—the historic preservation of New York City and its landmarks.

When not actively saving the pretty, old buildings of New York from bulldozers and modernity, Wood makes a living in philanthropy. He was previously the Chief Program Officer at the J.M. Kaplan Fund, which, among other things, directs money to historic preservation projects. But the J.M. Kaplan Fund is also involved in other areas, like the environment. Which, incidentally, is one of the Ittleson Foundation's top three priorities. In 1993, Wood left Kaplan to become Executive Director of the Ittleson Foundation, where, in addition to the environment, he oversees the foundation's grants relating to AIDS and mental health and serves as the secretary on its board of directors.

The Ittleson Foundation's mental health program is not huge. In a given year, the foundation typically gives out less than $200,000 in this program area. What Ittleson tries to do given its limited resources, as Wood articulates, is invest in projects that can serve as models for other, larger programs. The foundation wants its grant impact to be larger than its grants, so to speak. A sampling of mental health projects that Ittleson funded recently:

  • $20,000 to the Partners Healing Children after Trauma program at St. John's University in New York. This grant linked children's health practioners with libraries, so kids in need can access mental health services at their local library. (Easier to get to than a doctor's office, usually, especially if you're, like, eight.)
  • $50,000 to Denver's Carson J. Spencer Foundation to help build its localized youth suicide prevention program on a national level.
  • $5,000 to Penn State (as the last part of a multi-year, $80,000 grant) to expand its university mental health center, such that it can become an autonomous non-profit and assess and affect collegiate mental health more generally.

How to attract a preservationist's attention when applying for a mental health grant? Admittedly, the connection between Wood's professional background and Ittleson's mental health portfolio is not abundantly clear. Fortunately, by all appearances, Ittleson's grant application procedures are pretty straightforward. Send Wood a letter, outlining what your nonprofit is and what you want to do with Ittleson's money. If Wood and the Ittleson board like what they see, you'll then enter a more formal application process. More information on how exactly to apply for Ittleson support is available here, but some general heads up: be local or national (rather than international) in scope, strive to have a replicable project that can serve as a model for similarly great programs elsewhere, and don't do biomedical research.