Riley Foundation Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports education, healthcare, culture, environment, and economic betterment causes in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, with a special emphasis on the city of Meridian.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, healthcare, culture, environment, economic betterment

IP TAKE: Education has been a priority for this funder, so grant seekers might want to try to tap into this regional trend. Music programs have also been seeing a steady show of support lately.

PROFILE: Similar in geographic scope to the Phil Hardin Foundation, the Riley Foundation prioritizes grantmaking in Meridian and Lauderdale County, Mississippi. It is one of the largest foundations in the state and was chartered in 1998. It seeks “to meet the needs and improve the quality of life for the people of Meridian and Lauderdale County, Mississippi.”

It has evolved from the service of Dr. Franklin Gail Riley, who was the first residency-trained pediatrician in Mississippi. He was also a founding board member of the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and he turned the hospital he created into a nonprofit charitable hospital in the 1930s. His doctor sons were instrumental in constructing a new facility in the 1960s, Riley Memorial Hospital, which was sold to Health Management Associates of Naples, Florida in 1998. The foundation was established with the proceeds of that sale.

But unlike the Phil Hardin Foundation, which has a strict education focus, the Riley Foundation is a broad funder that provides grants to charitable and governmental organizations in the fields of education, healthcare, culture, environment and economic betterment.

To be considered for a Riley Foundation grant, an organization must be located in Lauderdale County and provide services to people in the county, too. Grant seekers should keep in mind that this is not a funder of hospitals, nursing homes, religious causes, biomedical/clinical research, or recurring expenses.

The board meets four times per year, and the foundation’s application deadlines are November 15, February 15, May 15, and August 15. Grant seekers can expect to hear back from the foundation as to the status of their application within two weeks of the funders' board meetings in January, April, July and October. They can view a list of recent grantees by year on the funder’s website. Many recent grants have been between $10,000 and $100,000.

In addition to traditional grantmaking, the foundation also has a summer work program that gives grants to nonprofits to hire college students for the summer. This is a great way to help nonprofits get essential tasks completed while also exposing young Mississippians to careers in the nonprofit industry.

General questions can be directed to the two-person, Meridian-based staff at (601) 481-1430 or


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