Albert I. Pierce Foundation: New Mexico Grants

OVERVIEW: The Albert I. Pierce Foundation focuses grantmaking on the state of New Mexico and awards grants to local arts and culture, education, and environment nonprofits. Most grants are in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, and the foundation accepts unsolicited grant applications within its guidelines.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts, culture, education, environment

IP TAKE: This is a great locally focused funder to know in New Mexico. The foundation is based in Albuquerque but considers requests from all parts of New Mexico, including rural areas, for program and project support.

PROFILE: The Albuquerque-based Albert I. Pierce Foundation specializes in education, environment, and culture grants in New Mexico. Albert was a Southern California native who went to school in Los Angeles and served in World War II and the Korean War. His connection to New Mexico came after his military career ended and he earned an MBA and began a long career with the City of Albuquerque. Between 1973 and 1990, he served as the executive director of the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments. Today, the foundation is run by a five-member board of directors.

This funder awards about 10 to 15 grants per year that are in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. With a strong New Mexico focus, Pierce supports programs that encourage public participation in educational, environmental and art projects, and which develop or conserve valuable environmental and cultural resources for public use and posterity. The foundation reported just over $815,000 in assets at the end of a recent year and $187,000 in giving.

Past local grantees have included Santa Fe Community College, Western New Mexico University, Cancer Services of New Mexico, Great Southwest Council BSA, Harwood Museum of Art, The Albuquerque Astronomical Society, and Duke City Repertory Theatre. Although many grants are made to Albuquerque-based nonprofits, other recent grantees have been located in Los Alamos, Taos, Santa Fe, and Silver City.

One representative grantee is the Pajarito Environmental Education Center, which received a $5,000 grant for its Nature Playtimes program. This program is free to families and encourages parents and kids to combine outdoor time in nature with crafts, stories, and songs. The foundation’s support has also extended to STEM education for women and girls, musical education in rural areas, music festivals, robotics for youth, and outdoor initiatives for youth.

Pierce typically awards three or four or so grants at the $10,000 level. Small grants under $5,000 are often considered by the board and awarded throughout the year. This is a funder that does not consider requests for religious purposes, capital campaigns, political efforts, construction and property acquisition, emergency funding, or international groups. Pierce also doesn’t award grants to other grantmaking organizations. The foundation is “going green” with new paperless grant application procedures these days.

Program and project support are the backbone of Pierce funding. In general, projects must be completed within a year of the start date to be eligible for Pierce support. Most funding stays in the state of New Mexico, but national groups with a broad reach are sometimes considered too.

Your best point of contact is Executive Director Debra Thrall-Pierce, who can be reached at aipfound@swcp.com or at 505-883-3114. Before stepping into this role, Debra was a public school science teacher at Clayton Public Schools in the 1980s.

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