Statement of Identity

1889 Foundation serves as a community leader and funder of initiatives that improve the health of people and communities in Cambria and Somerset Counties.

In line with the World Health Organization, “health” is defined broadly as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” We also endorse the paradigm of “population health” which recognizes that health is strongly influenced by the conditions within which people live. Beyond improving health, 1889 Foundation sees our purpose as “improving lives.”

The Foundation’s resources are targeted to ambitious, innovative initiatives that achieve meaningful impacts. We seek to leverage our grantmaking to bring additional funding resources into the region. We are particularly interested in comprehensive approaches that are formulated by multiple organizations working in partnership. Some grant funding is dedicated to specific issues or approaches that the Foundation identifies as a priority, while other funding is available for applicant-designed initiatives. In either case, we expect the initiative to be based on solid research and sound logic, and to specify the outcomes to be achieved. The Foundation places a high value on accountability, both for itself and for grantees.

The Foundation’s focus on initiatives means that we do not serve as an ongoing source of operating support for the region’s nonprofit organizations. We view our role as fostering the development and initial implementation of new approaches that have the potential for transformational impact. At the same time, the Foundation is committed to improving how organizations throughout the region address the issues that most affect health and well-being. Through our interactive approach to grantmaking, our encouragement of partnering and targeted support for capacity building, we strive to help organizations become more strategic, adaptive and financially sound. We also act as convener to promote stronger systems where agencies are aligned, coordinated and comprehensive in meeting community needs.

1889 Foundation is not a traditional grantmaking organization. Most of our grantees are identified through our work with selected stakeholders and organizations on strategic initiatives and special projects that are closely related to our mission. As a result, we are able to organize our efforts, maximize our funding, and address issues from various approaches with appropriate timing to optimize systemic and sustainable outcomes.

The Foundation’s resources are targeted to ambitious, innovative organizations that achieve meaningful impacts. Our success as a foundation depends on the success of our partners. We have high expectations both for us as a funder as well as for organizations we fund. Applicants should be committed to using the Foundation’s funding to accomplish transformational change to improve our community. Grants are viewed as successful when there is a measurable return on investment.

1889 Foundation only supports U.S. non-profit organizations classified as tax-exempt under the IRS.

Please note that the following kinds of requests are NOT considered:

  • For funds that will ultimately be passed through to other organizations
  • For sectarian or religious organizations whose principal activity is for the primary benefit of their own members or adherents
  • For loans, debt retirement or operational deficits
  • For institutions that, in policy or practice, unfairly discriminate against race, ethnic origin, sex, creed or religion
  • For propagandizing or for influencing legislation and elections
  • From an individual for their personal benefit
  • From individuals unauthorized to act on behalf of a qualified tax-exempt organization
  • For-profit organizations
  • For normal ongoing operations, including existing staff, or for the continuation of existing projects
  • For continuation of programs previously financed from other external sources
  • For organizations organized and operating outside any U.S. state or territory
  • For urgent needs, emergency funding or gap funding
  • For endowments or revolving funds that act as such
  • For funds to be distributed to beneficiaries of the organization’s choosing

1889 Foundation has established collaborative partnerships with other granting agencies to assist us in fulfilling our mission. Partnering organizations include the United Way of the Laurel Highlands, Center of Population Health, and Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance. If your project or program falls within one of these existing partnerships, we encourage you to apply directly to these granting agencies rather than directly to 1889 Foundation.

  • Letters of Inquiry are reviewed and considered at three meetings a year: August, November, and February.
  • 1889 Foundation does not accept unsolicited letters of inquiry or grant proposals.
  • We value your time. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to review 1889 Foundation’s grants philosophy, statement of identity, eligibility, and About Us page.
  • If, based on the letter of inquiry, the project appears to match our funding criteria and priorities, the applicant may be asked to provide additional information.
  • Review of the LOI and a request for additional information does not mean funding will be approved.
  • Due to the volume of requests we receive, all letters of inquiry will only be accepted through the Foundation’s online portal using the LOI form. Requests in any other format i.e., emailed or mailed, etc. will not be reviewed.

All Letters of Inquiry must demonstrate a clear tie to the Foundation’s mission and should align with the following priority areas:

Advance health in our region: 1889 Foundation is a “health” foundation that embraces the World Health Organization’s definition of health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Moreover, we recognize that a person’s health is strongly influenced by the social, economic and environmental context within which they live, work and go to school. Given this broad understanding of what health is and how health is created, 1889 Foundation views its purpose as “improving lives”.

Improve systems to achieve region-wide impact: In order to achieve population-level impacts, the Foundation intervenes at a systems-level rather than simply supporting individual programs. In particular, the Foundation seeks to create stronger systems throughout the region, where organizations align their approaches and operate from a holistic perspective.

Foster effective and innovative organizations: The Foundation believes that meaningful improvements in population health will require organizations throughout the region to be more strategic and innovative in their programming, and to incorporate strategies that have proven effective in other settings. Our grantmaking and community leadership work will be structured in a way to encourage innovation, learning and adoption of best/proven practices.