Understanding the Carpenter Foundation’s Funding Interests in Philadelphia

Carpenter supports community health nurses with grants and fellowships. Credit: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation isn’t one of the biggest grantmakers for local causes in Philadelphia, but it’s one worth getting familiar with if you work in a few key areas. The Carpenter Foundation often supports charities that the founders had direct relationships with during their lifetimes. However, it also considers grant requests from charities in communities where Carpenter Co. has had manufacturing facilities--and Philadelphia is on that list.

Community Health Nursing

One of this funder’s biggest commitments to Philadelphia is in the field of community health nursing. It accepts grant requests from nonprofits in Philadelphia, as well as Worcester, Mass., and Richmond, Va., for this cause.

The foundation sponsors the Carpenter Community Nursing Fellowship, which provides current and recently graduated nursing students with education, training and mentoring to build the skills necessary to take on a bigger role in community-based care. The foundation has also supported the Nursing and Community Health Social Innovations Lab to support innovators in nursing and community health.

The Intersection of LGBT Communities and Faith

The foundation also supports LGBT causes, especially projects that help LGBT people of faith, or that encourage faith groups to include and welcome LGBT people. Carpenter awarded three grants to dissident Catholic groups in a recent year and has stood out as a smaller foundation that funds gay rights faith groups. And it’s in good company in this pursuit alongside big names like the Ford Foundation, the Evelyn & Walter Hass Jr. Fund, and the Open Society Foundations.

A Catholic San Francisco publication made this point about these foundations' gay rights advocacy:

[The foundations] attach importance to the views of people of faith, not just Catholics. They recognize that faith carries weight with Americans and lends legitimacy to issues of public policy. The grants’ language also shows they don’t just want to influence public policy, they want to change how religions – including the Catholic Church – regard homosexual sexual activity.

But Carpenter’s mission goes beyond the Catholic faith: they awarded a $40,000 grant to Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia to start a LGBTQ program to serve local youth.

A Passion for Asian Art

The founders were heavily into Asian art and consider grant requests from museum nonprofits to purchase and exhibit Asian art in the U.S., as well as groups wanting to exhibit Western art in China and Taiwan.

Since Philadelphia is home to many world-class museums, local museums here often see Carpenter’s support. For example, the foundation has helped to support an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910.”

To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation: Philadelphia Grants.