New York Life Foundation: New York Grants

OVERVIEW: The New York Life Foundation was established in 1979 and focuses grantmaking on children and youth in New York City, Westchester County, New York, and beyond. Typical grants fall between $5,000 and $200,000, and employee volunteerism and contributions are a huge part of the corporate culture.

FUNDING AREAS: After school programs, child bereavement, hunger, homelessness, disaster relief, and environment

IP TAKE: NYLF has a couple of the most unique and specific grantmaking programs in the city of New York. One of the foundation’s biggest initiatives is all about helping eighth graders transition to ninth grade with after-school and summer programs. The foundation is also a big supporter of bereavement programs for children who have lost a loved one. Unfortunately, the New York Life Foundation no longer accepts unsolicited grant applications from nonprofits.

PROFILE: In over 35 years of grantmaking, the New York Life Foundation has awarded over $200 million in grants. New York Life is an insurance company that began back in 1845 and the company’s Corporate Responsibility Department coordinates all the philanthropic activities.

In 2012, the foundation increased its grants budget by five percent. At the end of a recent year, NYLF reported over $120 million in assets and more than $16.5 million in total giving. Both assets and giving have gone up in recent years. The company-sponsored foundation’s three major areas of giving are Grants for Good, Give for Good, and Volunteers for Good.

Nurturing children is the focus of the Grants for Good program, and almost all grants go toward educational enhancement and childhood bereavement programs. Educational enhancement programs should help economically disadvantaged eighth-graders transition into high school, and the foundation is interested in funding programs that build a solid academic foundation during the critical after-school and summer hours.

NYLF expanded its grantmaking focus in 2008 to help children deal with the death of loved ones. According to the National Alliance for Grieving Children, one in seven children will lose a parent, sibling, or close loved one by age 20. NYLF supports programs that help grieving children and the surviving family members and educators who care for these children. One year, the foundation gave $1 million to The Moyer Foundation to fund Camp Erin, America’s largest network of free bereavement camps for kids between six and 17.

In addition to these focus areas, NYLF awards community grants to nonprofits with which its employees directly volunteer. These grants range in size between $5,000 and $25,000. The foundation also has a matching gift program and a disaster relief program that are contingent upon employee donations. Grantmaking has primarily been focused in New York City and Westchester County, New York; however, national and multi-city grants are not uncommon. Cities are chosen based on New York Life’s target markets.

A list of past grants can be found on the New York Life website. Most of these grants were between $50,000 and $300,000.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, NYLF is no longer accepting unsolicited grant applications, and “invitation only” is the current policy. For example, requests for childhood bereavement projects are considered by invitation only during the spring when the foundation implements its national Request for Proposal in conjunction with the National Alliance for Grieving Children. And that “nurturing children” umbrella doesn’t encompass projects that are primarily related to sports, health, or the arts. Requests for personnel and capital expenses generally aren’t considered for grants either.

General inquiries can be directed to the NYLF staff at 212-576-7341 or via email at


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