Frederick H. Leonhardt Foundation

OVERVIEW: This small family funder primarily supports New Mexico nonprofits in the areas of experimental learning, child development, mental health, and graduate-level field science education.

FUNDING AREAS: Experimental learning, executive function skills, graduate work in field sciences, infant mental health and child development, mental health

IP TAKE: As heir to the foundation, Rick Leonhardt is an interesting character with strong opinions and an unconventional approach to philanthropy. He’d be happy to tell you more about it if you reach out for a conversation.

PROFILE: The Frederick H. Leonhardt Foundation (FHL Foundation) is a small private family funder based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was incorporated in 1953 and received nonprofit status in 1955. Frederick H. Leonhardt started the foundation, and his son ran the foundation in the 1970s and 80s. Together, they ran Fritzsche Brothers, which later became Fritzsche, Dodge & Olcott, and sold essential oils, fragrances, and flavors. Leonhardt's grandson, Rick, has run the foundation since 1999. You can learn more about the family in its legacy statement.

When Rick took over, he adopted a more focused mission for the foundation. He wished to promote John Bowlby's theory of childhood attachment as a guiding principle to solve problems in society. (Learn more about the theory here.) Big topics of interest under that mission were nature and children. However, the foundation has since moved away from this mission to a more general one. While the FHL Foundation is still interested in Bowlbian attachment theory, it also funds experimental learning, executive function skills, graduate work in field sciences, infant mental health and child development, and mental health in general.

In an effort to find a new focus area, FHL also developed a scholarship program to address student debt. One of Rick’s ideas is to award scholarships to graduate degree departments for field sciences to bypass financial aid offices. 

Most recent FHL grants have been between $5,000 and $20,000. Six or seven grants are usually awarded per round. Support has gone to Dental Care in Your Home, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, and the International Association for Geoscience Diversity. While many grants are awarded in New Mexico, funding goes outside the state for top interests. A list of grants by year can be viewed here. Up to $250,000 per year may be granted by this foundation.

FHL has a two-step online application process that begins with an LOI. The board meets in October, January, April, and July. They fund general operations but do not typically make multiyear grants. New Mexico organizations are favored. Rick doesn’t like to get involved with match grant campaigns, doesn’t like public-private partnerships, and doesn’t work well with grant writers who work on behalf of nonprofits.

The best way to get in touch is via online form. Martina is the foundation’s administrative assistant and will likely be your first point of contact. The funder’s phone number is (505) 247-2400. The address is FHL Foundation P.O. Box 27650, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87125. Recent foundation news can be viewed here.

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