Here's What You Need to Know About the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation

Some Los Angeles nonprofits might not be familiar with the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation yet, but this is a Southern California funder worth getting to know in a wide variety of issue areas. It was established in 1963 by a gift of property and is a family foundation with five interest areas: medicine, education/science, youth, community, and arts and culture.

Kenneth T. Norris founded Norris Stamping & Manufacturing Company, which manufactured steel products. He and his wife, Eileen, established the foundation, and their son Kenneth T. Norris Jr. helped run it as well with his wife, Harlyne. Kenneth Jr. was known as the primary benefactor of the USC/Kenneth T. Norris Jr. Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital before he passed away in 1996. Harlyne passed away earlier this year and is remembered for her support for USC and local contributions to health and the arts.

Based in Long Beach, this is a funder exclusively focused on organizations and projects in Southern California. Each funding area has its own set of deadlines, and the next ones coming up are for community grants and cultural grants due between December 1 and January 31. Grantseekers should note that Norris no longer accepts proposals via mail and now has an online application system. Applicants typically receive responses within five months of the application deadline.

Here are the types of organizations that Norris supports with its grantmaking in five categories:

  • Community: food banks, homeless shelters, animal rescue, family services.
  • Cultural: theaters, symphonies, orchestras, museums, art centers, performance art, art outreach.
  • Youth: clubs, camps, foster care, child care programs, after school programs, summer programs.
  • Education/Science: colleges, high schools, libraries, aquariums, zoos, science/technology, learning programs.
  • Medical: hospitals, clinics, dental care, burn centers, research.

Another thing we know is that Norris likes to provide continuing support for familiar grantees. This means that opportunities for new grantees are quite limited, but not unheard of. Organizations can submit grant requests once per year without a waiting period between award years. Fortunately for grantseekers, the Norris Foundation provides three types of funding: general operating support, project support, and funds for capital improvements.

At the end of last year, the Norris Foundation had over $189 million in total assets, down from more than $199 million the previous year. Grantmaking was a bit down in 2015 as well - $6.2 million compared to $8 million in 2014. This is a funder run by a seven-member board of directors and an executive director, Walter J. Zanino. Grantseeker questions are best directed to the foundation’s grants manager, Becky Accordino.