Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust: Arizona Grants

OVERVIEW: The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust supports local nonprofits in six program areas in Phoenix and throughout Maricopa County, Arizona. This funder has invested nearly $330 million in local nonprofits, projects, and strategic initiatives since grantmaking began in 2000.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts & culture, children, education, healthcare and medical research, older adults, and religious organizations

IP TAKE: This is an approachable and accessible grantmaker for solution-oriented nonprofits to reach out to that are working in and serving Maricopa County, Arizona. Grant requests are considered in terms of impact, effectiveness, feasibility, and sustainability. Keep in mind that the trust may consider multi-year grants if your program needs more than a year to get off the ground.

PROFILE: The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is a place-based funder with a focus on Maricopa County, Arizona. Virginia was the wife of Motorola founder, Paul V. Galvin. She moved from Chicago to Paradise Valley, Arizona with her second husband, Kenneth M. Piper, and committed her philanthropic efforts to Phoenix-area nonprofits for over 30 years. She established the trust in 1995 and appointed four lifetime trustees to handle grantmaking after her death. After she passed in 1999, over $600 million was transferred from her estate to the trust.

The trust focuses grantmaking on six areas: arts and culture, children, education, healthcare & medical research, older adults, and religious organizations. The Maricopa County nonprofit community receives an average of $23.5 million from the trust each year, and it awarded nearly$330 million in local nonprofits grants since 2000. This funder recently reported around $514 million in assets. Maricopa County includes the city of Phoenix and is home to about four million people. 

The Piper Trust has a competitive grantmaking program, and it makes special investments to bring national program models to Maricopa County for long-term community impact. The trust’s arts and culture program includes performance art, visual art, literature, and other cultural experiences that stimulate the economy and include children’s participation. It often funds programs that improve the business and financial operations of arts organizations, that redesign business models, and that facilitate collaborations between local arts groups. All arts and culture grantees are required to participate in the Cultural Data Project, a national operation which aims to strengthen arts organizations. 

Piper Trust grants for children go to nonprofits that make parents and caregivers more effective in child-rearing and that assist children without resources or with special needs. The trust also funds programs for afterschool care and ones that integrate early childhood policies and practices with the BUILD Initiative, a Special Trust Investment. Grants for older adults are made for disease and disability prevention and include programs that focus on exercise, nutrition, appropriate medications, and early screenings. The trust also likes to support programs that help older adults remain independent and engaged in their communities through civic engagement.

Within its education focus area, the Piper Trust supports preschools and other early learning environments, as well as tutoring and academic enrichment aids for school-age children. Education grants for remedial programs, learning aids for students with disabilities, and career-focused programs for older adults and adults with disability programs are also common. Meanwhile, health and medical grants are focused on four issue areas: healthcare workforce training, access to care, capital investments for improving facilities, and biosciences as a vehicle for prevention and early disease detection. Virginia G. Piper was a woman of strong faith, and accordingly, the trust often supports faith-based organizations.

Major past grants included $980,000 to Ballet Arizona, $500,000 to Scottsdale Museum of the West, $125,000 to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, and $150,000 to the Child Abuse Prevention License Plate Program. A large past grant, $1.5 million, went to Northern Arizona University to expand its physician assistant program and build out the Health Sciences Education Building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Several other recent Piper Trust grants have been around $50,000.

The program staff encourage grantseekers to contact them to discuss your idea before even submitting an initial letter of inquiry. Upon submitting a LOI, you’ll receive staff acknowledgement within a week and feedback within six weeks. If the staff sees a fit, you’ll be invited to submit a full proposal and a site visit will be requested. Read through the trust’s webpage, What Makes a Strong Proposal and the FAQ before applying. The trust does not have any deadlines for initial proposals and accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry throughout the year.

Piper Trust's leader, Dr. Susan M. Pepin is a nationally recognized medical educator, clinician, and researcher who joined the trust in July 2014. Dr. Pepin began by working to establish a public/private initiative to ensure all Arizona’s children receive vision screening and necessary follow-up care.

To learn more about Piper Trust grantmaking, consider attending a Piper 101 Information Session, which is an information workshop about priorities, guidelines, and the review process. These sessions are held on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am to noon at the1202 East Missouri Avenue office in Phoenix. According to Karen Leland, Director or Communications/External Relations, "The intent is to help nonprofits understand the Trust’s focus areas and grantmaking approach so they can successfully apply for grant funding or forego applying if they are not a fit or may not be competitive among other grant applicants."

General questions can be directed to the staff at 480-948-5853 or


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