Mary Black Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports healthy eating/active living, early childhood development, and community health programs in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Application deadlines fall twice per year.

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education, healthy eating, active living, community health.

IP TAKE: This funder is very locally focused and funding is restricted to Spartanburg County. With that said, there is a lot of money to go around for a county with a population of less than 300,000. 

PROFILE: Based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Mary Black Foundation was formed from the Mary Black Memorial Hospital in 1985 to support the hospital because it was a nonprofit hospital at that time. But in 1996, it was sold to a for-profit company, Quorum Health Group, for $62 million, and the foundation became its own separate entity. It seeks to “invest in people and communities for improved health, wellness, and success in Spartanburg County.”

Early grantmaking focused on the root causes of poor health through prenatal and childhood strategies that included the entire family unit. But in 2003 grantmaking took a major turn and a more strategic shift. Today there are three focus areas at the foundation: healthy eating/active living, early childhood development, and the community health fund. 

The early childhood program seeks to help children through the prenatal stage through age five to grow and develop in healthy ways. Healthy eating/active living grants support affordable access to nutritious foods and opportunities for exercise. The community health fund is a lower priority area that sees 10-20 percent of total grants each year. A list of recent grants in each of these categories can be viewed on the linked pages. 

Nonprofits interested in applying for an early childhood or a healthy eating/active living grant must meet with program staff before submitting an application. This should be at least a month before the grant deadline, so grant seekers should contact Amy Page ( ASAP to schedule a grant consultation. These grants average about $70,000 apiece. However, a consultation is not required for the community health fund. These grants are more like $20,000 each. 

Grant deadlines typically fall in mid-January and mid-August for the first two categories, and only once per year, in mid-January, for the community health fund. Mary Black’s review process takes about 75 days. The board does not typically accept funding requests from individual schools even if they are well within the borders of Spartanburg County.

This is a funder that provides general operating support, program support, support for policies, and planning and capacity-building grants. Multi-year funding opportunities are available only in the funder’s two primary focus areas.

Foundation assets grew from $60 million to over $80 million after its reconfiguration. Grant seekers can view current financial figures here. At the end of a recent year, the foundation made over $3.3 million in grants. General questions can be directed to the staff at or (864) 573-9500. Follow the funder’s blog to keep up with recent news and upcoming events.


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