Where Bernsen Funding Has Been Going Lately in Tulsa

The name Bernsen is well-known in the Tulsa area, thanks to a couple that found success in the oil industry after World War I. The Grace and Franklin Bersen Foundation focuses exclusively on the Tulsa metropolitan region, but supports a wide range of local causes. Between October 2013 and September 2014, the foundation awarded nearly $1.8 million in grants to nonprofits in the area.

As we wait for the latest round of grant awards to be announced, let’s take a closer look at some recent grantees to understand where Bernsen’s support has been going up until now.

Capital Construction

In 2013 and 2014, the foundation gave substantially to capital construction and capital campaigns in the Tulsa area. Most capital support has been between $25,000 and $100,000. Some examples of recent capital grantees include the following:

  • A New Leaf
  • Broken Arrow Neighbors
  • DVIS/Call Rape
  • Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma
  • South Tulsa Community Home

Program Support

However, the vast majority of Bernsen funding backs program support. Program support was awarded in amounts as low as $2,500 and as high as $100,000 in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014. These are some of the recent program support grantees: 

  • Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless
  • Tulsa Opera
  • Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
  • Planned Parenthood Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma
  • Hospice of Green County

Equipment & Supplies

The Bernsen Foundation occasionally awards grants for equipment and supplies, as well. Although this is not traditionally a large part of the overall grantmaking strategy, it’s significant because few funders set aside money for these types of grants. These are some recent equipment & supplies grantees: 

  • KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory School
  • Happy Hands Early Childhood Development Center
  • Sertoma SHOP
  • Child Abuse Network

Unlike some other local funders, this is not a place to go for your general operating support needs. Funding for ongoing operations isn’t entirely unheard of, but almost all Bernsen grants go toward programs and projects. During their lifetime, the couple supported Protestant religious causes, and the trustees still keep these interests in mind through projects like the Bernsen Family Life Center for the First Presbyterian Church.

A quick review of past news headlines also highlights some of the Bernsen Foundation’s other support around town.

To apply for a Bernsen grant, carefully read through the Grant Guidelines PDF and reach out to foundation administrator Margaret Skyles at 918-584-4711 or gfbersen@aol.com with questions. Applications are accepted all throughout the year and typically reviewed on a monthly basis. 

Related: IP’s Profile of the Grace and Franklin Bernsen Foundation