A Rundown on How the Bennett Family Foundation Gives in Philadelphia

The Bennett Family Foundation is a particularly interesting funder because it prioritizes giving in two of the cities we regularly cover in our local blogs: Boston and Philadelphia. It’s also a funder that sticks with small local organizations that address the needs of underserved populations, and these two cities are where the Bennett family lives and works. Today we’re focusing on this funder’s Philadelphia giving to get a better idea about what Bennett cares about most here.

This foundation also goes by another name, the Eleanore Bennett Charitable Trust #1, because it was one of two charitable trusts established by the bequest of Mabel Eleanore Newbold Bennett in 2004. The foundation’s fortune came from the business, Continental Felt, which Eleanore and her brothers were partners in. Today the two trusts are managed by Eleanore’s grandchildren with no full-time staff.

In Philadelphia, Bennett primarily focuses on healthcare and community nutrition programs. Most of the grants in the city range between $2,500 and $25,000 in size, although larger and multi-year commitments aren’t entirely unheard of.

Here are some examples of past Bennett grantees in the Greater Philadelphia area and the nature of those grant awards:

  • Bartram’s Garden - National Historic Landmark support
  • Chester County Futures – Mentoring for disadvantaged youth from public schools
  • The Food Trust – Local foods for in-school meals
  • Phoenixville Health Care Access – Access to care for dental, vision, orthopaedic care, mammograms, and prescriptions
  • Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia – Legal aid for vulnerable local populations
  • SHARE Food Program – Access to affordable and healthy foods

Although it’s not the largest funder in Philadelphia by far (Bennett claimed less than $6 million in assets and $284,000 in total giving last year), it’s still a great one to get familiar with if you work in the areas of access to health care and healthy food. This is because Bennett prefers to stick to small local organizations rather than big national ones, and it also makes grants directly to nonprofits instead of working through a community foundation or United Way.

To introduce yourself to this funder, send a letter of inquiry via website form with information about your organization, mission, and either your program description or if you’re seeking general operating support. You can request a grant of up to $20,000 on this form.

If the Bennett family likes what it sees, you’ll be invited to write a formal grant proposal next. Grants in both Philadelphia and Boston are typically awarded in May and November each year, so plan to get your inquiries in by April 1 for the spring and by October 1 for the fall.

In general, the funder keeps a pretty low profile and doesn’t show up in news headlines too often. And unfortunately for grantseekers, there’s no clear way to get in touch with the foundation's trustees if you have questions or simply wish to follow up on your inquiry.