Steele-Reese Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Steele-Reese Foundation supports rural Idaho, Montana, and Appalachian Kentucky communities in the areas of rural education, health, human and social services, the arts and humanities, land, water, and wildlife conservation, and historic preservation.

FUNDING AREAS: Rural education, health, human and social services, the arts and humanities, land, water, and wildlife conservation, historic preservation

IP TAKE: This funder prioritizes rural needs in the Northwest, especially in remote parts of Idaho with dwindling services for health and education needs.

PROFILE: Established in 1955, the Steele-Reese Foundation is the philanthropic legacy of Eleanor Steele Reese, who was the daughter of J.P. Morgan partner Charles Steele and toured the world as an opera singer. She and her husband, Emmet P. Reese, operated a ranch in Idaho and used her inheritance to launch the foundation. JPMorgan Chase Bank acts as the foundation’s corporate trustee since the foundation does not have its own office or full-time staff. Grantmaking includes rural education, health, human and social services, the arts and humanities, land, water, and wildlife conservation, and historic preservation.

Rural education is a big part of this funder’s strategy across all of its geographic regions. It awards grants to K-12 education programs for literacy, after-school programs, small public libraries, charter schools, model school programs, and scholarships in Idaho. Steele-Reese also supports human and social services programs that impact low-income and underrepresented groups including elders, the homeless, people with disabilities, individuals in the criminal justice systems, and victims of abuse. Rural health efforts are focused on preventative efforts, clinics, small hospitals, and family planning. Rural conservation and preservation grants fund land, water and wildlife conservation. The funder also considers local art programs and creative art activities, as well as the work of Native people. Overall, it supports nonprofits, government entities, schools, fire departments, and libraries.

Foundation grants typically range from $5,000 to $50,000. View a list of previously funded grants on the foundation website. The foundation focuses grantmaking on Idaho, Montana and Appalachian Kentucky. While only the rural education program applies to Kentucky, all foundation programs apply to Montana and Idaho. The foundation does not consider grants that benefit urban or suburban parts of these states or even rural areas immediately adjacent to these areas. While a majority of grants are for programs, the foundation makes a limited number of grants for capital improvements and campaigns. The funder rarely makes multi-year grants.

The Steele-Reese Foundation accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry from grantseekers. In a given year, the foundation will accept up to 150 letters of inquiry. The LOI submission dates are typically from early December to early January. Grantees receive checks in late August or early September. Grantseekers in the Northwest should direct questions to Linda Tracy at linda@steele-reese.org or 406-207-7984.

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