A Look at Kaiser Family Foundation's Enduring Focus on Mental Health and Safety Net Services

Late in 2015, we caught up with the George Kaiser Family Foundation to see how the funder’s Tulsa grantmaking had been playing out. Back then, Kaiser committed $6.8 million to local nonprofits to be split among 66 groups. The most money to close out 2015 went to human services, followed distantly by education and community health.

Related: Where have Kaiser’s Millions Been Going in Tulsa This Season? 

So how does 2016 grantmaking compare?

Overall, funding is down a bit with just $4.7 million in new grantmaking around town. But again, human services causes emerged as a top priority for this Tulsa-based funder. Almost $3.7 million of that $4.7 million went toward human services causes in the most recent round of grantmaking. A total of 54 nonprofits received new grants, down from 66 last year.

"These grants address the serious, everyday needs of individuals in our community," the foundation’s executive director Ken Levit told Tulsa World. "The organizations GKFF supports through this project play a vital role in meeting the needs of thousands of Tulsa families. This type of safety-net support is critical now more than ever."

So the bottom line, here, is that although funding figures have decreased, safety net grants are still Kaiser’s bread and butter. Over the past decade, GKFF has given out over $67 million in safety net grants to Tulsa nonprofits.

One highlighted grant of $460,000 went to Family & Children’s Services for behavioral health programming. Mental and behavioral health are big interests of this funder right now. Other recent topics of interest include domestic violence prevention and services for individuals who have been victims of domestic and sexual abuse. In addition to Family & Children’s Services, other top-earning grantees (more than $250,000 awards) were Domestic Violence Intervention Services Inc., Mental Health Association Oklahoma, and Youth Services of Tulsa.

GKFF has a lot of funding areas besides human services, including early education, civic enhancement, and community health. But it continues to offer a whole lot of social services support in the Greater Tulsa area. Keep in mind that GKFF is a supporting organization of the Tulsa Community Foundation, and its main goal is to reduce the cycle of poverty in the region. And on average, this funder gives over $6 million to Tulsa-based social service agencies per year. But unfortunately for new grantseekers, GKFF still does not accept unsolicited proposals. 

Related: George Kaiser Family Foundation: Oklahoma Grants