The Norton Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder focuses on holistic education in the Louisville, Kentucky, area. Teacher professional development and integrating the arts into education are also important to Norton.

 FUNDING AREAS: Education, arts education, teacher professional development

IP TAKE: Learn a bit about the Waldorf education model before contacting Norton. While not every grant is in direct support of this model, its concepts drive the foundation's grantmaking strategy.

PROFILE: The Norton Foundation is based in Louisville, Kentucky, and is dedicated to funding in this community. It was founded by George W. Norton, who was the founder and president of WAVE Radio and TV in Louisville. Norton established the WAVE Foundation to give back to his community, and its oversight went to his family after his death in 1964. It was renamed the George W. Norton Foundation in 1981 and finally just the Norton Foundation, after the death of the founder's wife in 1988.

Norton's mission is to support creative education through innovation, economic support, and cultural diversity. It supports the Waldorf education model and hands-on learning experiences in Louisville. George Norton’s wife, Jane, studied the philosophical works of Rudolf Steiner, who developed Waldorf, as well as the concept of biodynamic agriculture. The Waldorf model focuses on holistic education that addresses social and emotional skills, hands-on activities and creativity alongside academics.

Past support has gone to the Waldorf School of Louisville for grades K-8 and teacher training on Waldorf methods. Significant support has also been going toward teacher professional development at the first public Waldorf school in Louisville, Maupin Elementary. Past grants have gone to the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, New Roots, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana, and Dare to Care Food Bank. Recent grants can be viewed here.

In recent years, grant applications have been due around the first of March, June, and October. The first step in the application process is to introduce your idea to the executive director—in person, by phone, or email. Organizations can apply for grants once per year upon confirming that the idea aligns with Norton’s mission. From there, the application is accessible online via the foundation’s website.

Norton grants range anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Public charities in Louisville may be eligible. The board of directors will meet three times each year to review grant requests and about a month after the application deadlines. The executive director contacts applications to advise whether a request was approved or denied.

Today, the foundation is run by three directors: Norton grandchild Janey Newton, great-grandchild Maggie Keith; a family friend is the third director. Meredith Erickson has been the executive director since March 2014. General questions can be directed to Erickson at 502-893-9549 or via online form. The foundation welcomes communications about how to complete applications and conversations about how to improve life in Louisville.

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