The Kerr Foundation

OVERVIEW: This Tulsa-based funder supports education, health, human services, and arts and culture. It prioritizes nonprofits in Oklahoma but also supports groups in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, human services, arts and culture, public administration

IP TAKE: Be ready to do a lot of fundraising and secure support from multiple sources. Kerr is all about challenge grants. Oklahoma groups have a leg up on other states.

PROFILE: The Kerr Foundation is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was originally incorporated in 1963. You can learn more about the history of the Kerr Foundation from this 1985 News OK article. It carries on the giving legacy of the late Senator Robert S. Kerr.

The foundation supports education, health, human services, arts and culture, and public administration. But the common thread is youth.

Past education support has gone to John Brown University for an arts center and Sacred Heart Elementary Parish and School for science equipment and supplies. Education interests are institutions of elementary, junior high, pre-collegiate, higher education, health science centers, and medical research done by educational institutions. Health grants have gone to the Atchison Community Health Clinic for a safety net dental clinic and to the Midland Memorial Foundation for surgical operating tables. Health interests are institutions that provide health care, do medical research, or do outreach for professionals from the allied health area.

Meanwhile, human services grants have gone to the Adoption Exchange for a family recruitment program, the Oklahoma State Park Foundation, the Tree Bank, and other groups. Kerr is interested in organizations that serve diverse areas to the public, especially the disadvantaged, people with special needs, and the elderly. Arts and culture grants have gone to Oklahoma groups like the Canterbury Choral Society, the Central Oklahoma Ballet Company, and the Brightmusic Society. Overall, arts grants go to visual arts and performing arts groups, museums, and libraries

Grantmaking preference is given to organizations in Oklahoma, but support also goes to groups in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas. Kerr provides capital support for brick-and-mortar projects and equipment, program support, and operating support for administrative services. Historically, many Kerr grants have been challenge grants. The challenge grants are usually dollar-for-dollar and must be secured within 12 months from the award date.

Past grants can be viewed here. Grant amounts are not shared by the foundation. Community support can also be viewed on the funder’s website.

The application process begins with a letter of inquiry. Kerr will notify you whether you’re invited to send in a full proposal or not. You can view upcoming grant application deadlines on the foundation’s calendar. For example, the due date for proposals has been the first of August for the board’s December meeting.

General questions can be directed to the staff at 405-749-7991. There are two staff members at Kerr: Vice President Laura D. Kerr and Executive Assistant Cecilia Miller.


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