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Clinica Oscar Romero
Ralph M Parsons

What We Fund

The Foundation focuses on four broad areas of grantmaking interest: Social Impact, Civic and Cultural Programs, Health and Higher Education. The application process is rigorous, resulting in awards to those nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, and health care facilities that are improving lives today. Excellence, access for disadvantaged population, sound governance and leadership, and fiscal responsibility are key characteristics the Foundation looks for in its applicants.

  • Social Impact grants support programs focused on providing services to traditionally underserved and disadvantaged populations. The primary focus is programs serving children, families and the elderly.
  • Higher Education grantmaking seeks to improve the quality of college and university level education in Los Angeles County.
  • Health grantmaking looks for opportunities to enhance access to care for the disadvantaged, and provide funding for improvements at Los Angeles area health care facilities.
  • Civic & Cultural grantmaking is broad based, ranging from support for public gardens, performing arts organizations, museums, and more, in the recognition that that all people should have access to cultural experiences. We have a long history of supporting community –based nonprofits, and a keen interest in arts education for children and youth.

The Foundation does not act explicitly as an agent of change or to develop public policy, but concentrates on service delivery — on programs that change lives by helping one person at a time. We devote substantial resources to grants for general operating support, in large part because this type of funding is difficult to find in the foundation world. We believe that general operating support helps grantees preserve and enhance their core activities and buttress their ability to remain in business to serve populations in need. Private foundations are ineligible.

Potential applicants are encouraged to explore this website thoroughly for examples of the kinds of programs and organizations that the Foundation will typically support. Reviewing individual grants in our searchable grant database will allow potential grantees to review what agencies we have supported in the past, how much we gave them and the program purpose of the individual grant. The database provides hundreds of specific examples of what we have funded in all four of our primary areas of interest.

Close awareness of what we have funded in the past provides strong counsel on what we may support in the future. The Foundation does not distribute requests for proposals. Since the start of 2012, we have required a letter of inquiry (LOI) to be filed with us before any formal grant application is made, which is to be accompanied by recent financial information on the agency as a whole. An audit is preferred. Program staff will review LOIs and those deemed the strongest candidates will be asked to submit formal proposals and given counsel on how much funding may be anticipated.

The LOI process is described in detail elsewhere on this website. Potential grantees should keep in mind that, over time, our median grant award is about $50,000. Grants above $100,000 are rare.

What We Do Not Fund

The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation does not fund requests for the following:

  • fundraising events, dinners and mass mailings
  • direct aid to individuals
  • conferences, seminars, workshops, etc
  • sectarian, religious or fraternal purposes
  • federated fundraising appeals
  • support of candidates for political office or to influence legislation
  • for-profit organizations or businesses
  • scholarship support is provided only to nonprofit institutions; individuals are not eligible to apply
  • organizations outside of Los Angeles County
  • animal welfare
  • environment
  • documentary filmmaking or television programming
  • scientific and/or medical research