Sarkeys Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports education, social services, human services, culture, and humanitarian programs throughout the state of Oklahoma. Unsolicited letters of inquiry are accepted twice per year.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, social services, human services, culture, humanitarian programs

IP TAKE: Sarkeys prefers to fund Oklahoma groups that have been on the local nonprofit scene for at least three years. Areas of interest are broad, and Oklahoma City groups typically fare very well.

PROFILE: The Sarkeys Foundation is based in Norman, Oklahoma, and established by Sarkeys J. (S.J.) Sarkeys in the early 1960s. He was born in Lebanon and came to America (St. Louis, Missouri) at the age of 17. His work took him through Oklahoma, where he was lured in by the booming oil industry. Since its founding, the Sarkeys Foundation has made over $80 million in grants to improve life in Oklahoma.

Grantmaking areas of interest are education, social services, human services, culture, and humanitarian programs. However, the foundation does not normally support hospitals, operating expenses, start-up groups, religious organizations, or anything based outside  Oklahoma.

At the time this profile was written, the foundation had about $100 million in assets. In a past grant cycle, the funder gave out 36 grants totaling more than $3.4 million. The most recent annual report can be viewed here.

Separate grant applications have been required for requests of over $10,000 and for those under $10,000 in the past. This is a funder that awards challenge grants from time to time. Top grant earners have included the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Angels Foster Family Network, Education and Employment Ministry, and the YMCA in Oklahoma City. On occasion, million-dollar grants have been awarded by Sarkeys. Grants at work can be browsed here.

In the past, letters of inquiry have been due on June 1 for the August 1 application deadline and on December 1 for the February 1 application deadline. The trustees meet once per quarter and consider grant proposals at the April and October meetings. Letters of inquiry should be emailed to From there, the application process is all online.

The best way to get your foot in the door here is to make an initial phone call to the executive director or one of the program officers to discuss your idea. The foundation’s phone number is 405-364-3703, and Executive Director Kim Henry can be reached by email at

In addition to grants, this funder provides professional staff development opportunities and presents the Oklahoma Institute for Nonprofit Leaders and the Southwest Regional Leadership Forum. The funder also provides the free use of a meeting room for nonprofit groups of up to 150 people.


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