Helmsley Charitable Trust: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: Helmsley’s global health grantmaking supports food security, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, and neglected tropical diseases. Geographically, the trust emphasizes sub-Saharan Africa.  

IP TAKE: Smaller global organizations will compete with large NGOs Helmsley tends to fund. However, the trust is committed to effectiveness, so grassroots organizations that can demonstrate a large impact at the local level may gain Helmsley’s notice.

PROFILE: The Helmsley Charitable Trust seeks to “improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives.” It is best known for its basic biomedical research grantmaking. It is also known for supporting research into specific diseases like Crohn’s, inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes. In addition, it gives heavily to education, rural healthcare, the environment and projects based in Israel

What Helmsley is not as well known for, however, is its grantmaking commitment to the health of vulnerable children living in sub-Saharan Africa. The trust's Vulnerable Children program, for now, maintains its geographic focus on Kenya, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Angola, Ethiopia, and Zambia.

The Vulnerable Children program funds “integrated strategic priorities in remote and rural areas with limited access to public and private services.” Funding areas include: 

  • Food security, nutrition. The overall grantmaking focus here is on improving access to nutritious foods in an effort to increase food security and combat chronic malnutrition.

  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene. Helmsley’s WASH efforts revolve around clean water and sanitation initiatives in rural communities.

  • Education. The trust focuses its attentions on removing barriers to education for high-risk children and improving school retention.

  • Neglected tropical diseases. Helmsley attacks NTDs by supporting projects in WASH, mass drug administration, and school and community based health facilities. Specific disease of focus include intestinal worms, trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and river blindness.

Since the launch of the Vulnerable Children program, Helmsley has primarily supported large international NGOs with grants typically falling between $1 million to $5. While the trust has not announced any programmatic shifts, it appears to fund some small organizations with grants ranging from $25,000 to around $400,000. Generally, one or two large NGOs receive multi-million dollar awards.

For a deeper look into Helmsley’s Vulnerable Children awards, grant seekers can browse through the trust’s grantee list.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust does not accept unsolicited applications. However, it will announce Requests for Proposals on occasion.


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