Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports groups in Greater Birmingham, Alabama, mostly in the areas of community health and youth education. Letters of inquiry are accepted twice per year.

FUNDING AREAS: Community health, education, human services, arts and culture

IP TAKE:  This funder has broad interests but pretty much keeps all of its support in Birmingham. Grantmaking here is definitely a family affair.

PROFILE: Established in 1932, the Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation is based in Birmingham, Alabama. Bruno was the son of Italian immigrants and opened a small grocery store in 1932; by the time of his death in 1996 his grocery store chain, which included the Piggly Wiggly and Food Fair supermarkets, was a multibillion-dollar corporation. He was a community leader for many organizations during his lifetime. If you went to Auburn University, you may be familiar with the Joseph S. Bruno Italy study abroad program.

Today, the foundation is run by a fourth generation of family members. In 2008, the foundation’s board of directors established a new mission and giving strategy. Topics of interest have traditionally been religion, education, health, and the arts. Funding stays within the Greater Birmingham area.

In community health, grants go for nutrition, healthcare including behavioral/mental health, and preventative health. Education grantmaking is focused on school readiness, early childhood education, reading and math skills, and youth development through mentoring.

While health and education are the biggest causes for Bruno, it awards grants in other areas as well. These include basic human services for at-risk individuals with disabilities or those living in poverty. It has supported exercise, play spaces, and safety. Arts and culture are interests, especially as a way to fuel the creative economy.

The Bruno Charitable Foundation provides general operating support, program support, multiyear grants, and capital grants. For those last two topics, grantseekers are advised to speak with the executive director before submitting anything. The first step in applying for any grant is to submit a letter of inquiry through an online system. Inquiries are accepted twice per year. From there, the foundation will invite nonprofits to apply for grants. Funding decisions are made within about 60 days of the application deadline. Past grantees include Youth Serve and Urban Food Project.

There are two staff members at the foundation, an executive director, and a grants management assistant. There are four other board members here as well. The foundation created a Next Gen Advisory Board composed of fourth-generation Bruno family members between the ages of 21 and 40. The executive director, Jera Stribling can be reached at 205-879-0799 or jstribling@jsbcf.org.

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