Youth Dev Innovation Funders

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Foundations/Individual Donors - Youth Development Causes

Chick-Fil-A Foundation, National Forest Foundation, the Fuller Foundation, Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, Wayne County Community Youth Foundation, and the Northland Foundation are seven philanthropic organizations which regularly offer grants to youth development organizations. We have provided the requested details in the project spreadsheet; you will find that information in our write-up below with in-line citations of our sources for your convenience. We have also included some backdrop on why we chose the organizations that we have.


Per the project description, we attempted, first and foremost, to identify individual philanthropists. However, finding information on the charitable donations of individuals proved to be difficult. This is not because there are not many individuals who give to youth organizations, but because the donations of private citizens are not generally reported publicly, making them difficult to assess. Where possible, we have highlighted the work of organizations closely associated with living individuals, like the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. However, these proved to be rare and elusive.

We also found that local charities were the most likely to expressly state that they were open to offering grants to new, innovative projects or organizations. Since the stated goal of the project is to have a more "comprehensive understanding of the potential funder landscape," we have included some of these among our findings. However, since we do not know what region the request came from, these may be useful as examples only. A more targeted request, e.g., "Locate foundations and/or philanthropists in the Boston area who contribute to youth development projects," may be useful as a follow-up.
The Inside Philanthropy website includes a list of Wall Street philanthropists, many of whom are known to donate to youth causes. Unfortunately, details on these philanthropists and their causes are only available to subscribers, but the cost of subscribing ($49/month) is nominal. Inside Philanthropy appears to have more detail than is generally available in the public domain on individuals. We, therefore, offer it as a possible resource to your efforts.


The Chick-Fil-A Foundation provides grant funding through their yearly True Inspiration Awards, which in 2018 awarded a total of $1.2 million to 23 different non-profits, many or most of which had a focus on youth development: By the Hand Club for Kids, Urban Youth Impact, the Yunion, Kids Central, The Let It Be Foundation, the Travis Manion Foundation, Celebrate EDU, Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, Straight Ahead Ministries, Special Kids Inc., Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW), Teach One to Lead One, WellSpring Living, Bridge Teen Center, Moving Everest Charter School, Central Texas Table of Grace, Play for All, Youth Horizons Inc., For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation, New City Kids Inc., Lake Avenue Foundation, and The Road Home. Since searching each of these programs to determine how long they had been in operation before receiving the award is beyond the scope of a single Wonder request, we did not attempt to determine what the percentage of new initiatives. The True Inspiration Awards provide a link to an online application.


In addition to having its own programs, the National Forest Foundation also provides grants to programs that engage youth in a natural setting. One such program gives Chicago youth the opportunity to gain work experience by connecting them with job opportunities on public lands. This offers them the opportunity "to gain valuable education and professional experience, while making tangible and lasting contributions to the health of the prairie." The NFF's applications "processes vary based on the individual grant round, with details provided in each Request for Proposals." The Request For Proposal format and details can be found here.


This is a local foundation for Whatcom County in Washington state which in 2017 contributed $20,000 to various youth programs in $2,500 grants, including Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, Killer Whale Tales for The Salish Sea Experience, Lummi Island Heritage Trust, the North Cascades Institute, Northwest Youth Services, OUT There Adventures, RE Sources, and Wild Whatcom. North Cascades Institute and Northwest Youth Services are particularly notable, as they focus on youth development rather than simply education, e.g., North Cascades.' "Youth Leadership Ambassadors offers underserved students in Whatcom and Skagit Counties opportunities to develop environmental leadership skills and seek assistance applying for college." Applications are awarded through a competitive process, with applications being due in early January and awards announced in March or April.


This organization funds a grant called Youth at Risk, which helps to fund "agencies that involve a minimum of 25 youth, between the ages of 12 and 18, predominately at or below the poverty line." A separate source notes the Foundation's support of 10 STEM and youth leadership development programs in the Twin Cities area, including Como Friends, Minnesota Zoo Foundation, Spark Youth, Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation, TWCA of Minneapolis, Casa de Esperanza, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Urban Boatbuilders, Voyageur Outward Bound School, and Women's Initiative for Self Empowerment. The Foundation uses an online application process which requires a one-time registration to complete. The application windows for their bi-annual awards are December 1st to January 15th for the May meeting and May 1st to June 15th for the October meeting.


As described on their site, "The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation was established for the purpose of raising and distributing funds to youth service and enrichment programs." The Foundation donates heavily to the Boys and Girls Club of America, where Mark Wahlberg spent much of his time as a youth. They've also "raised and distributed over $10,000,000 to many organizations," including Camp Northbound. The Foundation requires a written proposal following a format explained in a downloadable PDF. We did not find any restrictions to the types of youth organizations that they will support.


As described on their website, "The Ford Family Foundation supports educational projects, programs and out-of-school time facilities in rural communities that encourage the development of skills, confidence and support needed for school-aged youth (5-18 years) to connect with quality mentors, excel in school, develop leadership skills, graduate with a plan for the future and become a successful citizen." Some of their strategic projects include the Out-of-School Time program, with which they have partnered with the Oregon Community Foundation, and the Chalkboard Project. We did not find a public listing of all the programs which they have offered grants to. The typical grant size is $25,000 to $150,000 per year, but they prefer not to fund more than one-third of the project in question. The Foundation has an open application process for projects which meet the following criteria:
- A clear assessment of need and a plan to address the need;
- A realistic timeline and budget;
- Strong community support as evidenced by donations, in-kind and partnerships; and
- Explain how success will be measured.


The Wayne County Community Foundation is another example of a local foundation which includes a grant specifically for "organizations that benefit youth activities within the greater Wayne County, Ohio area." Previous winners, with grants ranging from $500 to $1,800, include OneEight Inc., the Orrville YMCA, and the Wee Care Center. Online applications are accepted up to February 1 of each year for a decision to be reached by May; only tax-exempt organizations in the greater Wayne County, Ohio area will be considered. Other requirements for consideration include the following criteria:
- The project is a well-planned approach to solving a problem and delivering services.
- The use of funds will be innovative and efficient.
- Foundation support is vital or catalytic to the success of the project.
- The proposed project is expected to continue and expand after the grant ends.
- Expenses will be reduced by sharing resources with other agencies or groups.
- Due to the nature and size of grants available for youth funding, most YF grants will most probably be to support new initiatives or operating expenses.


The Northland Foundation "focuses on children, youth, and families, with support for programming that delivers:"
- Positive interaction between youth and caring adults.
- Early childhood care and education.
- High-quality youth enrichment activities for in-school or out-of-school time.
- Parenting and grandparenting support.
- Promotion of respect, diversity, and inclusion.
- Children and youth-focused programming that engages multiple generations.
- Youth leadership, civic involvement, volunteerism, and philanthropy.
In addition to providing grants ranging up to $5,000 (for small grants) or more (for larger ones), the Foundation also provides grants of up to $1,000 for youth-led projects. Some of their more prominent programs include the KIDS PLUS Program in northeastern Minnesota and the Youth in Philanthropy program. In FY 2016-17, they made 189 grants totaling over $1.4 million; the organizations supported include the Itasca County Family YMCA, KIDS PLUS, the Boys & Girls Club, and Bridges Kinship Mentoring.
The application process depends on whether the organization is applying for a small or large grant (applicable links can be found here), but either way, applicants "are encouraged to first contact Erik Torch, Director of Grantmaking, (218) 723-4040 or 1-800-433-4045 to discuss their project idea." Grant requests are reviewed and awarded quarterly, though large grants "may take up to 90 days for a final decision."


The above information regarding the Chick-Fil-A Foundation, National Forest Foundation, the Fuller Foundation, Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, Wayne County Community Youth Foundation, and the Northland Foundation has been recorded in the project spreadsheet. Based on our research here, it appears that a new, innovative program would benefit from seeking support from local organizations first, as these are the most likely to state that they wish to fund such programs. Due to a lack of public data on the giving habits of private individual philanthropists (Mark Wahlberg's foundation excepted) we are unable to confirm or deny that such individuals are more likely to offer grants to new organizations, and suggest the Inside Philanthropy website as a possible useful subscription service in that regard.