Critical Years: How the Horner Foundation Is Working to Help Youth Thrive



The middle and high school years are times of dramatic social, biological, and cognitive change for kids. The Horner Foundation is working on several fronts to help ensure this period is one of growth, good health, and empowerment for youth.

The Horner Foundation is based in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, and supports youth-centric organizations in Philadelphia. But it also gives in three other geographic areas: Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in the East Bay area of California; Greater Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; and Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire in the U.K. This family foundation aims to help nonprofits “foster positive youth development through out of school time (OST) and experiential learning opportunities.” One of its main goals is for all youth to “be healthy, strong and well-prepared for the 21st century.”

The Horner Foundation usually supports organizations working with middle and high schoolers, and while it has a strong interest in afterschool programs, its largesse also benefits diverse causes like local food, community organizing, and girls’ empowerment. The foundation awards grants for projects as well as capital funding needs like salary and infrastructure costs, typically supporting organizations for two years.

The foundation was formed in 2008 from the proceeds of the sale of TAH Industries, a company created in the 1970s by Terry and Ann Marie Horner, specializing in the production of various mixers and valves for numerous industries. It was sold in 2007 to the Nordson Corporation in Ohio.

This foundation is truly a family affair, with nine members of the clan steering the giving processes. Individuals and couples from the family hold responsibility for specific geographic areas as “representatives from [the] region,” with Anne Marie and Terry taking the reins with sports-oriented programming in Philly, and Tracy Horner Cullen serving as executive director.

Let’s take a look at how the Horner Foundation is funding in each of its four focus areas during the 2017-2019 cycle.


The Horners support city nonprofits offering sports-based youth development (SBYD) in Philadelphia, especially in afterschool programs for underserved kids. It usually recommends that grant requests fall in the range of $10,000 to $50,000 annually for this funding avenue. Students Run Philly Style and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia are some of the current grantees.

“A high-quality SBYD Program has a combination of life skills development, academic enrichment, mastery of adult and peer relationships, and vigorous physical activity,” the funder says.

Horner supports leadership development in Philadelphia, specifically, OST programs that help teens build advocacy, community organizing, citizenship and leadership skills. These programs don’t have to be overtly political, the funder points out, “but rather based in advocacy and grassroots initiatives that inspire youth to find their voice in causes they are passionate about and reflect the priorities of Philadelphia residents.” The grant range for these awards is $10,000 to $25,000 per year. Philadelphia Youth Action and Girls Justice League are current recipients.


San Francisco East Bay Area

Food-based youth development is the focus for this locale. Grants are generally between $10,000 and $50,000 per year. Programs focusing on local food systems in low-income communities and creative programming for empowering girls are supported, such as Urban Tilth’s Summer Apprenticeship Program and the Ecology Center. This focus is also described as “in development” on the foundation site. A previous 2015-2017 grantee of this branch of giving was Berkeley Youth Alternatives’ SPARK Girls project.

Victoria, British Columbia

The Horners fund youth-based food development and leadership development in the form of youth workers in this region. The suggested grant range is $10,000 to $25,000 per year for the food focus and $10,000 to $15,000 per year for leadership. In terms of food development, the foundation has a preference for groups working with Indigenous youth and food systems, youth with developmental disabilities, and initiatives led by youth.

When it comes to leadership development in Victoria, the family looks to back youth workers, whom they define as “young people and adults who are engaged in education, empowerment, activism, or other activities focused on adolescents in community-based settings, including recreation centers, schools, or community centers.”

Current Horner grantees in this part of the world include the Scis'new (Beecher Bay) First Nation Youth Field Team, the Victoria Food HUB Society, and a Psychology Foundation of Canada project called, “Helping Youth Manage Stress: Tools for Resiliency.”


In Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, the Horners focus their giving on SBYD, with grants usually between $10,000 and $50,000 per year. The family is now funding several groups and projects including iDID Adventure CIO’s climbing center and a girl’s changing room for the Kings Heath Boxing Club.

Also in the 2017-2019 giving term, this funder stepped outside of its four traditional zones and supported Boston Medical Center’s Teens Engaged as Mentors (TEAM) program, which brings together and “empowers diverse children and adolescents.” In 2015-2017, it also branched out by backing Future Science Leaders, a middle school STEM program in Ithaca, New York.

In 2016, this funder had more than $5 million in assets and gave away more than $500,000. Learn more about what this decade-old family foundation is currently funding and how to apply for its next round of youth-centric grants at the start of 2019 on its site.