Capital Projects in Oklahoma? Here’s an Opportunity

Based in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation was established 72 years ago to revitalize the agricultural industry. This is a foundation made up of over 320 people from over 20 countries to find solutions to problems faced by farmers and ranchers.

But despite this strong agricultural background, the opportunity that we’re talking about today has little to do with farming or ranching. Instead, it has everything to do with higher education and health research and delivery systems. Part of the Noble Foundation’s broad vision is a grantmaking program, and Oklahoma-based organizations and projects are at the heart of that.

Until June 1, the foundation is accepting letters of inquiry for capital funding requests related to education and health. Oklahoma groups will receive priority in this grantmaking round, and all commitments will be made for a single year.

The letter of inquiry process is pretty straightforward and informal with this funder: two pages to summarize your organization and project via mail or email. Then you can expect to hear back with a decision within about three weeks. The foundation’s director of philanthropy, engagement, and project management, Mary Kate Wilson, is your best point of contact for any questions.

So, what, exactly, is this funder looking for in new grantees, and what has it supported most around the state lately?

Back when we interviewed Wilson, she shared with us the following piece of advice for prospective grantees: "Be prepared to discuss your organization’s priorities for funding. The worst thing a grant seeker can do, whether with the Noble Foundation or another prospective donor, is to create a project they believe matches the donor’s priorities, but does not align with their organization’s core purpose."

This is an interesting RFP because it seems to deviate a bit from the funder’s overall work. Education has always been a big part of Noble’s mission. However, much of this support has come as funding for agricultural education events, and science/agriculture education. A vast majority of the funder’s past research support has revolved around agriculture as well, so “health research and delivery systems” seems a bit off-topic.

To date, the Noble Foundation has given more than $1 billion for charitable purposes, which includes more than $300 million for grants to nonprofits and scholarship programs. An email or call to Ms. Wilson might not hurt to learn how much of an agricultural angle letters of inquiry need for this new capital grant opportunity. Regardless, this is a grant cycle worth paying attention to if your education or health group has construction, renovation or equipment needs.

Previous Noble grant recipients in Oklahoma include the YMCA of Ardmore, Good Shepherd Medical and Dental Clinic Foundation, Arbuckle Life Solutions, and the Charles B. Goddard Center for Visual and Performing Arts. In the past, South-Central and Central Oklahoma nonprofits have received the most support from this funder.