The Everychild Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation based in Pacific Palisades, California. It awards a single grant of up to $1 million each year to a non-profit organization within Los Angeles County that profoundly helps children facing disease, abuse, neglect, poverty or disability. By the end of 2009, the Foundation had awarded more than $7.5 million in grants that have served 350,000 children.
The Foundation, started in 1999 by Jacqueline Jacobs Caster, relies on member dues to fund grants. Each Everychild member makes a tax-deductible contribution, and members are encouraged to become involved in the grant selection and monitoring process, although there is no requirement. Each member is provided with information on grant finalists and is entitled to vote on the final selection.
There are no fund raising events, no paid staff, and overhead is kept extremely low. The Foundation's membership retention rate is very high, over 95% annually.
According to the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Everychild Foundation is one of the larger “giving circles” of which they are aware, and one of the most successful in terms of dollars granted. Of the 160 giving circles they surveyed in 2006, Everychild alone was responsible for 7 percent of the total dollars granted.
The creation of the Everychild Foundation began with founder Jacqueline Caster’s dissatisfaction with the traditional charity event. Her experience on several boards led her to the conclusion that too many non-profit organizations use events to raise their funds. These events often consume large amounts of time and money to produce while yielding relatively small returns. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute, of the 102,353 public charities reporting special fund-raising events in 2005, the average return was just less than 40 cents on the dollar with $5.92 billion in total production costs and net of only $3.9 billion.
In addition, Mrs. Caster, herself a lawyer and urban planner, sensed that a growing number of contemporary women want to use their intellect, talent, education, and professional skills in meaningful ways in their volunteer work rather than planning events.
Mrs. Caster organized a gathering of her friends and pitched her idea. She received an enthusiastic response, and with the help of her husband Dr. Andrew Caster, who currently serves as a Special Advisor to the foundation, the Everychild Foundation was launched. In its first year, the Foundation achieved a membership of 56 women. In 2001, it issued its first grant for $230,00 to fund a mobile dental clinic operated by QueensCare, a nonprofit healthcare provider serving the indigent, and staffed by the USC School of Dentistry. By 2007, with membership at 225, the Foundation issued its first $1 million grant, an amount repeated in 2008 and in 2009.
The Everychild Foundation is organized as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. Its mission is to alleviate suffering of youth in the Los Angeles metropolitan area by filling critical unmet needs of children because of disease, disability, abuse, neglect or poverty.
All funds of the Everychild Foundation are derived from its members who each commit $5,000 annually to the Foundation. The membership is limited to 225 for efficiency purposes. Recruitment is primarily through word of mouth and small, member-hosted breakfasts.
The primary work of the Foundation is the identification and screening of potential grantees and oversight once a grant is awarded. The Grant Screening Board is made up of 20 Everychild members who spend the year reviewing proposals and ultimately selecting two finalists. The process includes review of documents provided by the grant applicant, site visits, and extensive analysis of the need for and viability of the proposed project and its budget. To ensure that the Foundation does not have an entrenched group controlling the grant process, committee terms are for three years and are staggered to assure continuity.
The Foundation has two other major operating committees. The Grant Outreach Committee is responsible for contacting agencies that may have a proposal that is eligible for the Everychild grant. If an agency is interested and appears eligible, committee members work with the agency to help it prepare Letters of Inquiry, the first step in the grant application process. Membership on this committee is limited to those who have already served on the Grant Screening Board.
The Grant Monitoring Committee is responsible for monitoring the post-award status of funded projects. Under the terms of the grant agreement with recipient agencies, members of this committee visit the project site twice a year to assure that the project is being implemented appropriately.
The Everychild Foundation’s grant criteria requires that projects and/or organizations be prototypes that can inspire replication either within the community, nationwide or even worldwide. An example of this replication is the 2004 grant recipient, Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital. The grant was used to fund a universally accessible playground adjacent to the hospital’s clinic in a poor neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles with no playgrounds for children. The playground not only serves the needs of the clinic patients and their families, but also the entire neighborhood. Accessible playground designers from around the U.S. and as far away as Cambodia have expressed interest in the model, and plans are underway in several locations.
Everychild has also served as a catalyst for other philanthropic acts both among its individual members and others in the community, creating a “philanthropic multiplier effect.” For example, over the years three individual Everychild members have provided substantial grants, ranging in size from $150,000 to $1 million, to the runner up to the Everychild grant. Each of these gifts enabled the proposed projects to be launched. In addition to large grants, Everychild members often make regular donations to runner up agencies and become involved in their activities.
The Everychild Foundation has served as the direct inspiration for the creation of at least eight new charitable groups, including: The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, The Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County, The Nevada Women’s Philanthropy Foundation, Today and Tomorrow Children’s Fund at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, Women Helping Youth, AVIVA Platinum Associates, Blue Heron Foundation and Kehillat Israel Tzedakah Teens.
In recent years, the Everychild Foundation, through its policy committee, has become involved in policy issues in three major areas: support for infants and toddlers ages 0 to 3; advocacy for children aging out of the foster care system at age 18; and reform of the juvenile justice system. Activities include support for legislation in these areas and collaboration with other groups and agencies in efforts in these areas.
The Everychild Foundation also holds Salons throughout the year to bring experts and interested members together to discuss various children’s issues in depth. These Salons have recently addressed the topics of autism, childhood asthma, and public education, among others.
The Everychild Grant criteria
- Number of annual grants: 1
- Size of grant: Projected at $1 million
- Types of grants: New or expanded direct-service projects only; may include capital, program, or a combination of both
- Target population: Children in the greater Los Angeles area
- Applications accepted: By invitation only.
- Format: Use only the Letter of Inquiry form provided to invited applicants
- Forms available: The Letter of Inquiry form, revised annually, is given to invited applicants between November and January of each year.
- Letters of Inquiry due: February
- Grant decision made: November
- Funds available for distribution: Beginning in the first quarter of the following year
- Exceptions to deadlines: None
- 2001 - QueensCare. Purchase and equipping of first mobile dental clinic to serve 30 low-income elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
- 2002 - Wonder of Reading. Renovation and restocking of 15 elementary school libraries and establishment of a training program for instructional reading volunteers.
- 2003 - Violence Intervention Program. Renovation and expansion of existing building to create a permanent center for psychological care of physically and sexually abused children.
- 2004 - Optimist Youth Homes. Construction of a learning center for at-risk probation youth.
- 2005 - Hillsides. Transition housing for foster youth who have aged out of the foster care system.
- 2006 - Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital. Construction of a universally accessible playground at an orthopaedic pediatric outpatient clinic.
- 2007 - Heart of Los Angeles Youth (HOLA). Renovation of Lafayette Park Community Center to increase and modernize class space and create a new computer center for free after-school, vocational and inter-session programming in the Rampart District.
- 2008 - Mar Vista Family Center. Construction of the Youth Center to house Youth for Youth, a youth led leadership and mentoring program in a high-risk Mar Vista neighborhood.
- 2009 - St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. Implementation of the agency’s environmental health projected called Healthy Homes, Healthy Kids.
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