The Lawrence Foundation: Grants for Public Health

OVERVIEW: The Lawrence Foundation is a family foundation whose giving focuses on the environment, youth development and human services.

IP TAKE: This foundation's support of public health falls under its commitment to "human services," with an emphases on hunger and family stability. Grant amounts are typically no more than $5,000, but there are no geographic restrictions either in the U.S. or around the world (so long as the work is generated by a U.S.-based nonprofit) and the foundation provides you with the flexibility of operating grants, as well as the more typical program grants.

PROFILE: The mission of The Lawrence Foundation is vague. The foundation merely declares that its mission is to “support organizations that are working to solve pressing environmental, educational, human services and other issues.”

The throughline for this giving is also vague. Established by Jeff Lawrence and his wife, Diane Troth, with cash accrued when Lawrence sold his Trillium Digital Systems to Intel, the foundation says the couple “feel it is important to give something back and support organizations that are trying to make the world a better place.”

More information can be gleaned through the foundation’s actions than its words, which include an emphasis on organizations and programs that provide food/combat hunger, as well as to programs that address family stability.

While the foundation definitely pays attention to these public health causes, which it likely categorizes as "human services," these issues are second-tier to the foundation's primary giving emphasis--the environment. The foundation says it receives over 1,000 grant requests per year (while bragging that most family foundations only receive “about 150”). They fund “about 5%” of those 1,000 annual requests. Quick math translates to 50 grants distributed per year. (Tax records for 2015, the most recent year currently available, show that the foundation gave out 48 grants that year.) The foundation currently reports it has given 525 grants totaling almost $4.6 million since its establishment in 2000, with assets of “about $4 million.”

Grants are modest, typically ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, with the vast majority at the $5,000 mark. The foundation’s application is fairly basic; it uses the Common Grant Application (which leadership of The Lawrence Foundation helped create). There is a standard request for goals/objectives/outcomes—a good strategy would be to communicate how a $5,000 grant would strongly support them. 

Note: the foundation “does not typically” give funding for physical education or recreational programs/equipment, hospice/”old age home” programs, computers/software, audio/video equipment, music or theater programs/equipment, or gardening programs/equipment.

The Lawrence Foundation has no geographic restrictions on its giving, both domestically or internationally (so long as the international project is operated by a U.S. nonprofit), though recent giving in the public health realm shows a particular focus on Southern California (the foundation's homebase). The foundation will give both general operating and program support. Recent public health-related grantees include:

  • $5,000 to Project Angel Food (Los Angeles, CA) "to nourish people debilitated by critical illnesses"
  • $5,000 to Feeding America (Chicago, IL) "for domestic hunger relief"
  • $5,000 to Save The Children (Fairfield, CT) to give "children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and pretection from harm"
  • $5,000 to Meals on Wheels West (Santa Monica, CA) for "delivering healthy meals and services"
  • $5,000 to Planned Parenthood (Denver, CO) "to provide reproductive health care, techying responsible sexuality education, and protect a woman's right to choose"
  • $5,000 to The Angel's Depot (Vista, CA) "to provide free meals to impoverished senior citizens living in San Diego County"
  • $4,000 to the Alliance for Housing and Healing (Los Angeles, CA) "to provide essential housing and supportive services to poor people suffering with HIV and other health conditions"
  • $2,000 to the Center for Prevention of Abuse (Peoria, IL) "to help people live free from violence and abuse"
  • $1,000 to the Family Support Council (Gardnerville, NV) "to provide education, prevention, and intervention services and support grown and development of healthy families."

The Lawrence Foundation’s grant application is open to all, and has two grant cycles each year, with deadlines in April and November.

PEOPLE:

Jeff Lawrence, Founder and Trustee

Diane Troth, Trustee

Lori Mitchell, Executive Director