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California's Top Foundations

July 01, 1990

Foundations play a role in setting social policy by their choices of organizations and programs to fund. The following list briefly describes the gift patterns of California's top foundations. They are ranked by grants given in a year, not by assets or endowments.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Menlo Park

Grants given for calendar year 1989: $39.5 million.

Funded: Performing arts, education (primarily at the university level), population issues, environmental issues and conflict resolution. There are no geographic limitations on applicants, but some funds have been earmarked for Bay Area projects.

Board of directors: Eleven members, including four Hewlett family members. Others include Stanford professors (current and retired), an attorney and a newspaper executive; many are longtime friends and associates. They meet four times a year.

W.M. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles

Grants given for calendar year 1989: $35.3 million.

Funded: Higher education, including engineering and other sciences; medical research; medical education; liberal arts, a Southern California grant program that includes arts and culture, civic and community, health care and pre-collegiate education. No geographic limitations.

Board of directors: There are 24 members, including Keck family members and business people nationwide. Formal board meetings, at which grants are made, are held twice a year.

James Irvine Foundation, San Francisco

Grants given for calendar year 1989: $21.3 million.

Funded: Higher education, community services, health, youth and cultural arts, all in California.

Board of directors: Eleven board members (five from Northern California, six from Southern California) include lawyers, business people and academics. They meet five times a year.

Weingart Foundation, Los Angeles

Grants given for fiscal year 1989-1990: $21.2 million.

Funded: Emphasis is on helping children. Grant recipients have included Para Los Ninos, the Salvation Army and the Los Angeles Police Department's Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program.

Board of directors: Six members, including business people and academics. They meet every other month.

Ahmanson Foundation, Beverly Hills

Grants given for fiscal year 1989-1990: $20 million.

Funded: Los Angeles County programs, with some exceptions. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Doheny Eye Institute and Jules Stein Eye Clinic. Scholarships to local schools.

Board of directors: The seven-member board includes three members of the Ahmanson family, plus other Southern California community leaders. They meet three to four times a year.

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Irvine

Grants given for fiscal year 1988-1989: $19.4 million.

Funded: Advanced research programs in biosciences at universities and tax-exempt research centers nationwide.

Board of directors: The four-member board includes business people from Southern California and nationwide. They meet twice a year.

Marin Community Foundation, Larkspur

Grants given for fiscal year 1989-1990: $18.3 million.

Funded: Arts and humanities, education and training, environment, housing and community development, religion and integrative approaches (multidisciplinary areas). Most programs are in Marin County; grant recipients must have non-discriminatory policies that serve all ethnic groups.

Board of directors: There are seven trustees; six are named by appointing authorities and include an educator, business people, an attorney, a minister and a social service agency worker. They meet monthly and have been heavily involved in establishing this relatively new foundation since its inception in 1987.

Arco Foundation, Los Angeles

Grants given for calendar year 1989: $16 million.

Funded: Community programs (including minority youth leadership development, low-income housing and job training), education (including early childhood and minority engineering programs), the arts, the environment and land preservation, and public information.

Board of directors: All board members are Arco officers, except Eugene Wilson, foundation president. The eight-member board meets periodically but has no set schedule.

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