Oklahoma City Community Foundation: Oklahoma Grants

OVERVIEW: The Oklahoma City Community Foundation manages over 1,300 donor funds and has more than $810 million in total assets. This community foundation focuses its attention on parks and public spaces in central Oklahoma and getting its people in the greater Oklahoma City area physical active and eating healthy.

FUNDING AREAS: Parks, public spaces, health, wellness

IP TAKE: Nonprofit leaders in central Oklahoma should get to know Sally Ray, OCCF’s program officer. She is the point of contact for both the Parks & Public Spaces Initiative and the Wellness Initiative, so you’ll need to go through her to receive an invitation to apply for an OCCF grant.

PROFILE: For over 45 years, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has worked with donors to create charitable funds that benefit central Oklahoma. In a recent year, the funder had $850 million in assets, over 1,500 funds, and made $33.5 million in total grants. 

Motivated by the passage of the National Tax Reform Act of 1969, oil tycoon and philanthropist John E. Kirkpatrick and eight other community leaders founded the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to avoid the newly imposed restrictions on private foundations. Creating a public community foundation made a lot of tax sense, and it was modeled after the Cleveland Foundation, one of the oldest and largest community foundations in America.

Like most community foundations, OCCF works with donors to maximize the impact of individual giving and foster beneficial efforts for local communities. For example, the foundation awarded $76,000 in grants to five organizations for beautification projects and infrastructure projects to promote wellness.

OCCF started working with the Oklahoma City Planning Department on a plan for the Oklahoma City parks system in 2012, and community parks continue to be a big part of the foundation’s giving strategy. The Parks & Public Space Initiative supports the development of existing parks and ways to make them more useful for health, recreation, and wellness activities.

The Parks Initiative is open to unsolicited grant inquiries from nonprofits that provide direct services and have a governing board based in Oklahoma County. Neighborhood and community groups and churches connected to parks and public spaces and local government agencies or state and city-connected agencies may also apply for these grants. Projects may be done in conjunction with or totally separate from the Wellness Initiative and the Margaret Annis Boys Trust. Make sure that your program meshes with the Oklahoma Parks Master Plan, and to receive an invitation to apply, contact Sally Ray at s.ray@occf.org.

Launched in 2014, OCCF’s Wellness Initiative promotes physical activity, good nutrition, and healthy lifestyles in a general sense. Both children and adults are the focus of this grantmaking program. Like the parks initiative, OCCF’s accepts unsolicited wellness grant inquires as well. This initiative focuses on daily numbers to live by: (1) five or more fruits and vegetables, (2) two hours or fewer of screen time, (3) one hour of physical activity and (4) zero sugar-sweetened beverages.

Priority is given to programs that get inactive groups of people moving, that make new connections with neighborhood groups, and that feature intergenerational or mentorship programs. Again, you’ll need to make your pitch to Sally Ray at s.ray@occf.org. Grants for both parks and wellness are up to $50,000.

In addition to these two top priorities, OCCF contributes to wellness in Oklahoma through the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, where funds go toward beautification projects in parks, schools, libraries and neighborhoods. The five Kirschner Trusts have supported charitable projects exclusively in the Muskogee, Oklahoma area. OCCF also manages the Donna Nigh Foundation funds, which was originally established as a private foundation to benefit developmentally disabled individuals. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation is home to over 120 scholarship funds established by individuals, organizations and companies.

OCCF is governed by a Board of Trustees, several of which were appointed by community organizations like the Office of the Mayor, the United Way of Greater Oklahoma, and the chief judge of the U.S. Federal District Court. Nancy Anthony became the foundation’s executive director in 1985 and serves as the foundation president today.

Nonprofits interested in getting involved with OCCF should definitely look into GiveSmartOKC.org, an online resource that provides information about over 200 nonprofits in central Oklahoma to prospective donors. General questions can be directed to the foundation staff at 405-235-5603 or through the online contact form.


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