Kirkpatrick Foundation: Oklahoma Grants

OVERVIEW: This Central Oklahoma-focused funder has provided key support for many of the cultural institutions and other community-oriented programs in Oklahoma City and environs. This is a separate, but related, grantmaking entity from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts, culture, education, animal concerns, environment and preservation.

IP TAKE: Pitch a proposal for education in Oklahoma for the best result. This funder takes a broad approach to education funding and supports education more than anything else.

PROFILE: The Kirkpatrick Foundation is one grantmaking arm of Kirkpatrick Philanthropies. The other is the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, which we cover in a separate profile.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation was established by John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick in 1955 in Oklahoma City. It has a strong legacy of giving in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area and focuses grantmaking on arts, culture, education, animal concerns, and environmental and preservation. John Kirkpatrick was born in Oklahoma City and pursued a military career. He later led the Kirkpatrick Oil Company, and he and his wife got involved with local philanthropy. Eleanor Kirkpatrick won numerous awards for her charitable acts and support for arts, health and humanitarian programs.

According to a letter from the executive director, annual grantmaking is typically divided up like this:

  • Education – 35 percent
  • Human services – 16 percent
  • Arts – 9 percent
  • Animals and environment – 4.6 percent

The education program supports pre-K through 12th grade, university-level, and out-of-school program grants in Oklahoma. Past grantees include the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation, Heritage Hall, Bishop McGuinness, Oklahoma City University, and the DaVinci Institute (a local higher-ed think tank). Teacher training, summer camps, and arts education enrichment are all of interest to this funder.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation’s arts and culture program supports dance, theater, music and visual arts with program support and general operating support. Film festivals, museums and exhibits in Oklahoma City have also received support. This funder supports big names like the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Lyric Theatre, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and the deadCENTER film festival.

Animal well-being grants have been awarded to the Oklahoma City Zoo and its affiliates. Other animal support has gone towards veterinary training, no-kill shelters, and search and rescue operations. The environment section reports that the foundation's environmental grants constitute about 10 percent of overall giving. Grants have gone to assist the Price Tower Arts Center, the Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma chapter, and the Preservation Oklahoma internship program.

The foundation considers grant requests from both public and private educational institutions and faith-based education programs, and the OKC metro area is top priority. There are separate procedures for small grant requests and large grant requests. You can apply for a small grant if your organization is less than three years old or if you are requesting less than $10,000.

Keep in mind that this foundation does not typically fund multi-year projects, capital campaigns, health/medical causes or social welfare programs. Any questions about eligibility or applying for grants should be directed to the foundation’s program officer, Paulette Black, at 405-608-0934 or pblack@kirkpatrickfoundation.com. Letter of inquiry forms can be found online for requests over $10,000, as well as an application for smaller grants. Ms. Black wrote an article, “Twenty Simple Steps for Success in Grant Writing,” which is published on the foundation’s website and worth a read.

Aside from grantmaking, the foundation has two other philanthropic arms: Safe & Humane and ArtDesk. Safe & Humane aims to improve the lives of Oklahoma animals and the people who care for them. ArtDesk is a twice-yearly print magazine featuring contemporary arts that is published by the Kirkpatrick Foundation. Overall, the Kirkpatrick Foundation awards $2-3 million each year.

The foundation is governed by trustees on the board and an advisor. These are the four board committees at the foundation: Executive and Finance, Investment, Grants, and Nominating. Foundation annual reports can be downloaded from the Press Room page. Follow this funder on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with recent happenings. General questions can be directed to the staff at 405-608-0934.

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