Venable Foundation

Established in 1983, the Venable Foundation, Inc. promotes the health and well-being of the communities where our clients and professionals work and live.

The Venable Foundation reflects who we are as a firm. As we’ve grown, it’s been a pleasure to watch the Foundation grow in breadth and strength too.

– Lindsay Meyer
, Partner and President, The Venable Foundation

The Venable Foundation, Inc. was established to promote the health and well-being of the communities where Venable’s clients and employees work and live. The Foundation is funded annually by equity partner contributions. By helping individuals and organizations meaningfully connect with opportunities, resources, and each other, we ensure that the firm’s impact reaches far beyond day-to-day business operations.

The Foundation supports a wide range of civic, cultural, and charitable endeavors, as well as public interest law and legal education. Grantees provide deep and meaningful engagement with accessible programs to individuals of all ages, allowing them to overcome institutional disadvantages. The Venable Foundation is particularly interested in how its grants impact low-income and underrepresented communities, working to eliminate barriers to success.

Grantees provide a variety of programs for the community, including out-of-school time activities, arts education, academic enrichment, homeless services, transitional and supportive housing, access to food, LGBTQ+ services, college access, workforce development, environmental preservation, health-based initiatives, legal services, immigration support, and a variety of other issues affecting low-income individuals and domestic violence survivors.


Venable Foundation 2021 Annual Report

Venable Foundation Annual Report FY2021

Grant Application and Eligibility
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To Apply

Follow the link below to access the Venable Foundation’s online grants portal and submit a proposal for funding consideration.

New users must register themselves prior to submitting an application. If you are a new staff member with an existing grantee organization wishing to submit a proposal for renewed support, you must register in the grants portal as a new user.

Please click on the Application Timeline tab to view the Venable Foundation’s current deadlines for submissions. The Funding Priorities tab provides further insight into the categories where funds are awarded.

Eligibility

The Foundation provides funding for place-based organizations and initiatives, meaning that organizations must be based in or impacting regions where Venable has major offices. These are the metropolitan areas in and around Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, DC.

The Foundation makes grants to charitable organizations that are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Foundation does not fund projects that promote or proselytize on behalf of any religion.

The Foundation does not fund organizations that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political affiliation, or any veteran’s status. Furthermore, the Foundation does not support medical research or funding to individual schools or parent/teacher associations, and will not provide sponsorship support for special events, galas, or other fundraisers.

Application Timeline
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The Venable Foundation accepts applications three times per year. The application deadlines for the 2022 calendar year are as follows:

  • February 1, 2022
  • June 1, 2022
  • September 1, 2022

Decisions are announced approximately three to four months after each deadline. Nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply once per calendar year.

Funding Priorities
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The Venable Foundation envisions that its philanthropic investments provide essential resources to nonprofit organizations in communities across the country. Guided by the belief that everyone has the right to equitable employment opportunities, healthcare, housing, food, and a vibrant cultural community, Venable grantees ensure that economically disadvantaged people are given the tools they need to thrive.

Grant support is provided to assist with general operations and projects. Currently, the Venable Foundation’s funding priorities include:

  • Human Services
  • Legal Services
  • Education
  • Workforce Development
  • Youth Impact
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Arts and Culture

You can learn more about each of these funding priorities below:

Human Services – The Foundation has a strong track record of supporting a breadth of essential human services, including programs that impact people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, incarcerated and returning citizens, LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities, and those affected by domestic violence and housing insecurity.

Legal Services – We support the delivery of free or affordable legal services in our communities. Pro bono consulting and representation focus on a variety of issues, including domestic violence, housing, immigration, public benefits, and discrimination, among other areas. Legal service nonprofits providing “know your rights” training and other activities are also supported. The Foundation also supports training for youth and adults to ensure diversity and access to careers in the legal profession.

Education – The Foundation supports a wide array of early childhood, in-school, and out-of-school time initiatives that provide in-depth opportunities for learning and engagement to position children for success and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged youth.

Workforce Development – We believe that every individual deserves the opportunity to pursue gainful employment. Thus, we support organizations with the goal of developing the workforce of today and tomorrow. Successful programs recruit and train individuals and place them in relevant jobs so that they can earn a sustainable living wage for themselves and their families. Skill development is focused on low-income, underemployed, and unemployed community members, and on preparing youth for careers after their schooling is complete.

Youth Impact – The Foundation invests in services that impact children in each of our communities. These initiatives ensure economically disadvantaged youth are healthy and safe and have opportunities to thrive.

Health – The Foundation is committed to improving wellness and increasing access to care for economically disadvantaged individuals in the region. Successful organizations and programs work to eliminate barriers to healthcare for all ages and provide accessible and no-stigma testing for a variety of diseases. We support pediatric to geriatric services that address a variety of health concerns.

Environment – We support organizations involved in the preservation of our natural resources and those that are addressing natural or man-made disasters in our target regions. Programs educate communities and work for change on a variety of environmental issues, from wildfires to pollution.

Arts and Culture – The Foundation supports initiatives in the arts that promote deeper public engagement and build up the creative economy, with an emphasis on low-income and underserved communities.

Venable Foundation Annual Reports
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FAQs
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Registration and Online Application Questions

I’m new to applying. What’s my first step?

Begin by reviewing the Venable Foundation’s recent annual report, eligibility requirements, and funding priorities on this website. If your nonprofit is eligible and able to make a strong case for support, please visit venable.smartsimple.com and register as a new user. Once successfully registered, you will be able to start drafting an application for funding.

While registering, how can I find my organization in the online portal?

Please be sure you are following the instructions on each registration page. If you encounter a problem on the “Organization Search” page, be certain that you are entering information into only one of the search fields. It is recommended that information be entered into the EIN field without dashes or spaces between numbers. This section verifies your tax-exempt status and connects to the IRS nonprofit database. There are instances where newly formed nonprofits may not yield any results in this search function. This is due to a lag that can occur before the IRS updates its database. Organizations in this situation will not be able to apply until their EIN is recognized through the search function.

I’m a newly formed nonprofit. May I apply?

All valid 501(c)(3) organizations may apply as long as they fit the Venable Foundation’s eligibility criteria.

I can’t locate my draft application already in progress. Where is it?

Once logged into the Venable Foundation’s grants portal, any applications initiated by the user will be found under the “My Applications” section. Note that there are a number of categories in this section, including “Draft,” “Submitted,” “Under Review,” “Approved,” and “Declined.” Select the most appropriate column to continue working on a drafted application or to review submitted or past applications.

My organization has a new contact person. What should I do?

The new contact person should register as a new user at venable.smartsimple.com. The new user will not be able to see historical grant application records unless they request permission to do so from the Foundation’s director. This change will need to be made manually by the director. Note that only one user at a time may be the main contact for each grant record.

Should I remove past employees from the organization’s profile in the application portal?

Do not attempt to change usernames or modify user e-mail addresses or permissions. This may result in loss of account access for you and others from the same organization. Please contact the Foundation’s director if you would like to move ownership of grant records from a former staff member to a different person who is already registered in the online system.

General Application Guidance

Average grant size – How much do I apply for?

The average size of a Venable Foundation grant is approximately $10,000. First-time awardees are usually on the smaller end of the spectrum. It is up to the organization to determine what it feels is an appropriate request.

How often may I apply?

Eligible nonprofits may apply once per calendar year.

General Operating Support vs. Project Support

Applicants have the option to apply for either General Operating Support or Project Support, depending on the needs of the organization at a particular time. Organizations with a scope of work that includes geographic areas beyond the Venable Foundation’s boundaries should apply for a project that is centered around a single Venable location. For example, a national organization may target its proposal at Baltimore-focused initiatives. Each project request must include a separate budget.

Which funding category or priority area should I apply under?

Many nonprofits span two or more priority areas (for example, legal services for children). It is up to each applicant to determine which of the Venable Foundation’s funding priorities is the most relevant to the nature of the organization and/or proposal.

I work in more than one Venable Foundation location area – Which do I choose?

Applicants must choose only one Venable Foundation location, as their proposal will be reviewed by a location-specific committee. Select the location that best fits the needs of the organization at that point in time and for which a strong case for support can be made.

I am a nationally focused nonprofit. May I apply?

Organizations with a scope of work that includes geographic areas beyond the Venable Foundation’s boundaries should apply for a project that is centered around a single Venable location. For example, a national organization may target its proposal at Baltimore-focused initiatives. Each project request must include a separate budget.

Do you accept a letter of intent or a full application?

A full application is required for funding consideration.

Do you fund special events or fundraisers?

No, the Venable Foundation does not provide sponsorship dollars for special events or fundraisers.

Do I need a Venable LLP connection in order to apply?

No, there is no requirement to have a Venable LLP connection to apply to the Venable Foundation. The application process is open to any eligible nonprofit organization that is impacting one of our identified locations.

May I apply using a fiscal host?

Yes, organizations that utilize fiscal hosts may apply for support. While registering, please select “Affiliate Organization” as the type of registration, since the 501(c)(3) number is being shared by other entities. This type of registration will allow you to create a unique record that is distinct from any others sharing your tax-exempt number. In the body of the proposal, please identify the nature of the relationship between your organization/project and the fiscal host.

I am a chapter or affiliate organization that is connected to a larger entity. May I apply?

Yes. While registering, please select “Affiliate Organization” as the type of registration, since the 501(c)(3) number is being shared by other entities. This type of registration will allow you to create a unique record that is distinct from any others sharing your tax-exempt number. In the body of the proposal, please identify the nature of the relationship between your organization/project and the fiscal host.

How much information should I include in the proposal?

Generally, proposals are approximately two pages of typed text in length. While there is no word limit for the application narrative, applicants are encouraged to keep their proposals as succinct as possible and to make a strong case for support. The proposal should provide an overview of your organization’s mission and programs that impact the community.

When will I hear back on the result of my application?

The time span from application deadline to decision is approximately three to four months. Note that applications submitted after a particular deadline will not be reviewed until the subsequent deadline, thus extending the timeline.

Contact
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Michael W. Bigley

Director, Venable Foundation  
MWBigley@Venable.com
Foundation video image
2min

“We are all human beings, we are all members of our community, and we really do believe that it’s not just about how much money you make at the end of the day that defines whether you’re a successful lawyer or a successful law firm.”

Venable has long recognized the importance of providing first-rate legal representation to those unable to afford a lawyer. Learn more about our pro bono practice.