Leon Levine Foundation

OVERVIEW:  This foundation was formed upon the success of the Family Dollar stores. It focuses giving on Charlotte, North Carolina. Areas of interest are healthcare, education, Jewish values, human services, and community.

FUNDING AREAS: Healthcare, education, Jewish values, human services, community

IP TAKE: This is a wonderful funder to know if you’re in Charlotte. Elsewhere in the Southeast, not so much. Broad interests largely convene on education and healthcare.  

PROFILE: The Leon Levine Foundation focuses on Charlotte, North Carolina, and surrounding areas. Leon Levine made his fortune with the retail store chain, Family Dollar. Levine grew up in Rockingham, North Carolina, and he opened his first Family Dollar store in Charlotte in 1959.

The foundation supports local causes in healthcare, education, Jewish values, human services, and community. Health grant requests should focus on access to care or local programming and research. Education grants go towards birth-12th grade public education and post-secondary scholarships for disadvantaged students. Affordable housing is a big topic for this funder through its human services grantmaking.

Jewish values are at the heart of the Leon Levine Foundation, and this funding area has a broader reach. Representative past grantees include the Jewish Federation, the American Israel Education Foundation, and Birthright Israel. Finally, arts and culture grants are made through Levine’s community grant program.

Since the 1980s, the foundation has given over $200 million in grants. Historically, the majority of grants have gone towards education and healthcare. Recent grants have touched on libraries, affordable housing, cancer care, and child development.

Funding comes in the form of general operating support, project/program support, scholarship support, capital campaign support, and occasionally endowment support. Seed money and start-up grants are very rare with this funder. There is no minimum or maximum grant size, however, the board only considers multiyear funding for capital campaigns. This is also a foundation that likes to structure its grants in a matching or challenge grant format—their way of helping organizations build a donor base and increase their long-term sustainability. Overall, this funder is looking for nonprofits with strong leadership, a good track record, and sustainability.

The application process begins by submitting a letter of inquiry, which is reviewed by the grants committee within 60 days. Reasons why letters are declined are listed here. Proposals are reviewed in December, March, June, and September. Next comes an application to submit a full proposal, which is due 45 days later.

You can keep up with what this funder is doing on the media section of the foundation website. The staff can be reached at 704-817-6500 or via email to the most appropriate staff member. Leon Levine still serves as the foundation’s president and director.

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