James Graham Brown Foundation Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports causes promoting health, economic development, and culture in the Louisville metro area, and education at all levels throughout Kentucky.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, business, general welfare, advancement, culture, civic affairs

IP TAKE: Although there has been a big push for local education funding at JGBF, it also funds lots of other nonprofit causes. Nonprofits of all types in Louisville, and any education group in Kentucky, should get familiar with this foundation.

PROFILE: The James Graham Brown Foundation supports nonprofits in the city of Louisville and throughout the state of Kentucky in the areas of business, education, health, general welfare and advancement. It seeks to establish the “commonwealth as a national leader” and create “a public image of Louisville and Kentucky of which we can all be proud.” It is a priority of the foundation (and its founder's dying wish) to reverse any public impression that Kentucky is “backwards” in these areas.

This foundation was established from a trust agreement in 1943 and incorporated in 1954. Its founder was a lumberman, horseman and entrepreneur that made most of his wealth in the timber industry. He died with no heirs and left his fortune of over $80 million to the foundation. During his lifetime, Brown helped establish the Louisville Zoo, land development for the University of Louisville, and the area’s first American Red Cross blood bank.

There are two key funding priorities at JGBF: quality of life (which encompasses human services, and civic, cultural, and economic development) and education (which includes educating Kentuckians from birth through adulthood, including higher education). The funder awards human services, civic, cultural and economic grants mostly to organizations in the Louisville metropolitan area. Within this category, it often funds neighborhood revitalization, collaborative community solutions and pre-development/feasibility studies.

However, education has been the prevailing cause for JGBF for a while now, with education grants extending to statewide initiatives, as well as local efforts in the Louisville area. It supports school readiness, post-secondary readiness and success in 21st century workforce. Also, the foundation supports higher education through the Brown Fellows Program and competitive grants with an RFP process accessible by both public and private colleges in Kentucky.

Since it was established, the foundation has given out over $520 million through more than 3,000 grants. Grant seekers can learn about past grantees on the foundation website. Many past grants have often fallen between $75,000 and $1 million.

In recent years, the most grants have been going to education causes, followed by health groups. Typically, most foundation support goes towards program support, however, this funder also provides general operating support, renovation funds and other types of funding.

Questions about grantmaking guidelines and processes can be directed to the staff at grants@jgbf.org or via phone at 502-896-2440 ext. 1. This is the same email address to which grant seekers should send a one-page concept paper for initial review. Up-to-date deadlines can be found on the funder’s Grant Information page.


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