The Kerr Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Kerr Foundation is a Tulsa-based funder that 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: Incorporated in 1963, the Kerr Foundation is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Learn more about the history of the Kerr Foundation from this 1985 News OK article. Ultimately, the foundation carries on the giving legacy of the late Senator Robert S. Kerr. Kerr aims to support “organizations, programs, and institutions that provide new or enhanced opportunities for those within the granting areas, particularly the young” The foundation supports education, health, human services, arts and culture, and public administration.

Across all areas of giving, the common thread is youth. Education interests are institutions of elementary, junior high, pre-collegiate, higher education, health science centers, and medical research done by educational institutions. 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. Health interests are institutions that provide health care, do medical research, or do outreach for professionals from the allied health area. 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. Kerr is interested in human service organizations that serve diverse areas to the public, especially the disadvantaged, people with special needs, and the elderly. 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. Overall, arts grants go to visual arts and performing arts groups, museums, and libraries Arts and culture grants have gone to Oklahoma groups like the Canterbury Choral Society, the Central Oklahoma Ballet Company, and the Brightmusic Society.

Learn about past grants and grantees here. Kerr does not share its grant amounts. 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, 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.

Kerr accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry, and the application process begins with a letter of inquiry. View upcoming grant application deadlines on the foundation’s calendar. Kerr will notify nonprofits if they are invited to send in a full proposal. Direct general questions to the staff at 405-749-7991 or to Vice President Laura D. Kerr at


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