Thornburg Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder focuses grantmaking on New Mexico in the areas of environmental conservation, national and international public policy issues, and human services and opportunities for children and youth.                                                                                        

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education, food & agriculture, government reform

IP TAKE: Get in touch with the officer that’s most closely related to your issue area and stay in touch. Unsolicited proposals aren’t welcome, but communications are open to New Mexico-focused nonprofits.

PROFILE: The Thornburg Foundation is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is the family foundation of Garrett Thornburg. This is a separate entity from the charitable arm of Thornburg Investment Management, a privately held firm established in 1982. Established in the late 1990s, this family foundation is funded by Garrett Thornburg, who contributes mutual-fund shares he has earned from his ownership interest in Thornburg Investment Management.

Key focus areas for this foundation are environmental conservation, national and international public policy issues, and human services and opportunities for children and youth. To pursue its strategic initiatives, the foundation identifies problems that have at least one identifiable root cause as well as a viable solution that promises enduring change. It expects to see measurable results within three-to-five years.

Early childhood development grantmaking is focused on the birth-to-five demographic in New Mexico. Areas of funding typically include family support/home visiting, child care, and pre-kindergarten. Thornburg’s goal is to get 70 percent of the total student population entering kindergarten in New Mexico ready for school (as measured by a statewide kindergarten readiness assessment) by 2020. Past grantees include the New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership and New Mexico State University.

Thornburg’s food and agriculture program aims to build a resilient and diverse farm and ranch economy and to offer residents healthy food options. Farmers in the state are getting older, and farming here has become a less-profitable career. The industry’s future is uncertain, yet consumer demand is growing. Grants typically go to programs that support healthy food access, eco-friendly farm practices, ranching on public lands, and rural farmer support. Past support has gone to the Western Landowner Alliance and Healthy Land, Sustainable Future.

The third big area of support for this funder is the transparent and ethical representation of government. It also aims to increase civic participation and accountability in New Mexico government. Past grantees include New Mexico Common Cause and NM in Depth.  

In a six-year period, the foundation contributed at least $9.1 million in grants. Thornburg tends to give out about $1.5 million per year across about 40 organizations. Community funded grantees include The Food Depot, Gerard’s House for Grieving Children, and Literacy Volunteers for Santa Fe.

Unfortunately for new grantseekers, Thornburg does not accept unsolicited grant applications. However, if you feel that your organization or program aligns with one of Thornburg’s missions, you are encouraged to reach out to the most appropriate initiative officer by email. The foundation’s general phone number is (505) 467-7853.

Recently, the foundation has employed a staff of five and has a chairman of the board, two board directors, and four officers. You can keep up with Thornburg's activities and interests through its news section.  

Thornburg Investment Management has its own separate corporate philanthropy program. Another related opportunity is the Jeff Harnar Awards, which supports groundbreaking work in the area of contemporary design and is co-sponsored by the University of New Mexico School of Architecture + Planning.

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