Exceptional Grants


Highlighted below are our Exceptional Grants. While we are proud of all of our grants, there are a few that we consider exceptional for one of three reasons.

First, we want to spotlight our “firsts” – those grants where we were either the first funder to step up to support the project or we initiated the project ourselves. These grants are our Pioneering Grants.

Second, we want to highlight those grants from our portfolio that exemplify the diversity of our grantmaking to support sustained collaborations, i.e. the exploration and/or implementation of nonprofit mergers, back office consolidations, alliances, and joint programming. These grants are our Exemplary Collaboration Grants.

Third, we want to highlight our investments in special projects and project areas that, although outside of our main focus areas of philanthropy and collaboration, have resulted in substantial impact. These grants are our Special Project Grants.

Before describing these grants, however, we want to mention what we consider to be our greatest achievement, one that doesn’t fit neatly into one of the three above-referenced categories – our groundbreaking work in facilitating a movement to promote sustained nonprofit collaboration as a critically important capacity-building tool for the sector. When we established Lodestar’s founding strategy of supporting nonprofits seeking to explore or implement sustained collaborations, we were the only foundation in the country employing this strategy. Today, more than 21 years later and after forming a national partnership with SeaChange Capital Partners and subsequent partnerships with like-minded funders around the country, Lodestar is part of a network of over 100 funders in eight cities around the country providing resources to nonprofits to facilitate sustained collaborations. Through leverage, project initiation, public speaking, and scholarship, we are building a field of practice that has the capacity to transform the way nonprofits build sustainability and impact. The Sustained Collaboration Network, described below in our Pioneering Grants, is the culmination of our work in sustained collaboration.

 Additional information for many of these grants may be found in the grants database, accessed by clicking the link at the end of the applicable grant summary.


In 2012, Lodestar was the first foundation to make a grant to support a new initiative, started by Henry Timms at the 92nd St Y, to designate the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a day of giving, analogous to the shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Little did we know the impact that our groundbreaking grants would have on the phenomenon known as Giving Tuesday. In 2019, Giving Tuesday operated in more than 60 countries and raised in excess of $500 million. Link to grant

The Alliance for Middle East Peace (“ALLMEP”) is a coalition of more than 100 organizations that promote people-to-people coexistence between Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. ALLMEP works to raise awareness about the work of the member organizations as well as to cultivate new and expanded resources to support the overall “grassroots” peace movement; importantly, it also advocates for the interests of ALLMEP members before US agencies, Congress, foreign governments and foundations. Beginning in 2008, a series of Lodestar grants has served to professionalize, stabilize and grow the network. Link to grant

Homeless individuals in the Phoenix metro area were required to travel in different directions using public transportation to receive the various services necessary to help them re-enter mainstream society. As a result, many either never sought the services or only received partial and insufficient care. Starting in 2002, Lodestar provided a planning grant and then the lead private sector grant of more than $3 million for the Human Services Campus, which led to a $26,000,000 public/private collaboration to co-locate the area’s major homeless-serving agencies onto one campus.  Link to grant

Although there are several hundred NGOs working to support independent print, broadcast and internet media in the developing world, there had never been a substantive opportunity to share information and resources, either informally or through a cooperative association. In 2008, The Lodestar Foundation provided initial seed implementation grants of $150,000 (which led to approximately $1,500,000 more in grants from other foundations) for the first collaborative conference of independent media support NGOs from around the world, the first Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD).  Since then, the GFMD has become a permanent ongoing collaborative organization, with a secretariat office in Brussels and five regional operations around the world.  Link to grant

Beginning in 2000, Lodestar has made a series of grants totaling more than $650,000 to initiate and support the growth of The Wellness Community in Phoenix (now known as Cancer Support Community Arizona), a place where cancer patients and their families can learn about cancer, be empowered to make decisions about treatment options, and receive targeted therapeutic and emotional support, all as a public service to the community at no cost whatsoever.  As of 2019, the organization has served more than 200,000 individuals. On a related note, Lodestar supported the merger between the two national networks providing no-charge cancer support services (The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Clubs) that resulted in the formation of the national Cancer Support Communities network.

Believing that the widespread and ever-growing use of litigation has fostered a breakdown of civility in our business and personal lives, Lodestar, since its formation, has invested more than $2 million in alternative dispute resolution activities at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (ASU). The Center encompasses training of both lawyers and non-lawyers in various forms of dispute resolution, performing scholarly research in the field, and providing mediation services in various forums. Notable among the accolades received by the Center are the two Dispute Resolution Education Awards bestowed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the inaugural award in 2005 and a subsequent honor in 2019) for its development of innovative curriculum, research and service in the area of alternative dispute resolution.  Link to grant

The increase in wealth of young professionals and baby boomers has provided a fertile environment for encouraging philanthropy in new ways. In 1999, Lodestar founded Social Venture Partners Arizona (”SVPAZ”) patterned on an innovative Seattle-based organization (Social Venture Partners) that had created a philanthropic giving circle with the dual mission of teaching strategic philanthropy and providing resources (both financial and hands-on) to emerging nonprofits. Little did we know that by being the “first follower,” we were initiating what has become an international network of SVP organizations, Social Venture Partners International (“SVPI”) that now includes more than 40 SVP affiliates in the US and 9 additional countries. SVPI was formed to brand, support, expand and enhance the work of the individual Social Venture Partner groups around the world. Our grants over the years, beginning in 2000, to both SVPAZ and SVPI, have totaled more than $1 million; the value of philanthropic contributions across the network is in excess of $70 million.  Links to grants here and here.

Lodestar initiated a project called The Collaboration Prize in 2009 (with two subsequent iterations in 2011 and 2017) as a way to collect models of nonprofit collaboration to inform and inspire the sector to think about permanent collaboration as a smart capacity-building tool. The project netted more than 650 descriptions of successful collaborations. We then created a database, the Nonprofit Collaboration Database, a broad-based database searchable by a wide variety of categories and characteristics, and partnered with the Foundation Center (now Candid) to house the database within Candid’s Collaboration Hub, a portal that contains case studies, podcasts, videos, and resources on collaborations, mergers, and joint programming. The Nonprofit Collaboration Database is the primary repository of models of permanent collaboration for the sector.  We invested more than $2 million in the project.  Link to grant

In response to increased threats to journalists and despite prior unsuccessful attempts to encourage the parties to collaborate, Lodestar, in 2017, initiated a convening of all law school clinics and nonprofits that provide pro bono legal support for public interest journalism. We also underwrote the cost of a consultant with specific nonprofit collaboration expertise to facilitate that convening and a subsequent convening several months later. In 2019, the Free Expression Legal Network (“FELN”) was launched, comprised of 22 law school clinics, nonprofits devoted to protecting journalists, and more than 20 law professors who have joined together to share best practices and promote collaboration  to better address challenges facing free expression and transparency. Through grants to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, FELN became a reality.  Link to grant

Starting in 2010, Lodestar began to promote sustained collaboration as a strategic form of capacity-building, primarily through conference engagements and writings. As the number of funder collaboratives grew, the need to more formally organize became apparent. In 2018 and 2019, Lodestar sponsored annual meetings for board members and staff of foundations participating in existing funder collaboratives supporting sustained collaborations, as well as for the consultants running the collaboratives. Also invited were representatives from cities interested in forming collaboratives. As a result of these meetings, and with significant support from Fidelity Trustees Fund and The Parsons Foundation in addition to Lodestar, the Sustained Collaboration Network, a multifaceted resource network for nonprofit funders and intermediaries supporting sustained collaboration as an important tool for building the capacity and impact of nonprofits, was formed. Lodestar’s investment leading up to the creation of the network exceeded $350,000.


The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW), a philanthropy training program, was founded and operated by the Rockefeller Foundation for ten years, starting in 1995. The program was so successful that the Hewlett Foundation started a similar program called The Philanthropy Workshop West (TPWW) based in California. The two organizations operated independently, even through changes in sponsorship of both organizations.  Though Lodestar provided grants to both organizations, we were persistent over the course of more than 11 years in encouraging both organizations to discuss ways to work together. In 2014, TPWW merged into TPW with substantial support from Lodestar, and the merged entity has both expanded its network of global philanthropists and enabled its members to significantly increase philanthropic impact.  Link to grant

In 2017, the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies and the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services joined forces. Unifying the Jewish human service sector has enabled the Network to efficiently deploy a full range of human services for the Jewish community and beyond, and enabling its members to share best practices and maximize the impact of their work. Lodestar provided major support for the merger.  Link to grant

Both The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Clubs, each with about 25 locations in different parts of the country, were leaders in the provision of psychological, emotional and social support services, free of charge, for patients and their families. By consolidating, they were able to increase operating efficiencies, reduce costs and better utilize their combined resources to expand training, policy, research and advocacy functions. A SeaChange-Lodestar grant in 2010 provided major support for the merger, which resulted in the new entity, Cancer Support Community.  Link to grant

The Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s oldest, independent nonprofit focused on investigative journalism – and The Bay Citizen – a more recently-formed, entrepreneurial, web-based nonprofit focused on local coverage – merged in April 2012 to form the nation’s largest nonprofit organization devoted to investigative and accountability reporting. The merger enabled CIR to to obtain a strong presence in local news, which has led to expanded reporting by CIR’s award-winning broadcast/podcast program, Reveal.  Link to grant

Every summer, many Arizona nonprofits working with special needs children had to compete to reserve week-long sessions at mountain camps to provide a camp experience for their clients, and the camps were rarely able to adequately accommodate the often complex physical, medical and developmental challenges of their campers. A number of these nonprofits joined together to form a nonprofit to acquire and operate Whispering Hope Ranch, a facility designed to accommodate a diverse population of children with special needs. Lodestar supported the acquisition of joint-use furnishings for the camp.  Link to grant

Five like-missioned nonprofits that serve the human services sector in Louisville, Kentucky, came together to create a management services nonprofit, ImpactV, to provide centralized management services to the five organizations. The resulting benefits have included shared knowledge of processes and procedures, resource sharing, technology improvements, reduced costs and organizational efficiencies. Lodestar provided funding to support the integration of administrative services.  Link to grant

Native American Connections, a Phoenix-based nonprofit serving the urban off-reservation Native American community, saw value in creating a one-stop hub where clients can receive services from multiple social service and healthcare providers. Two early grants from Lodestar enabled the organization to leverage assets to obtain $7 million (in no-interest loans and grants) to purchase a facility now considered to be the geographic center of services for that population.  Link to grant

Lodestar provided the lead private-sector grants to acquire and implement the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a technology platform that serves as a repository of information that various agencies serving the homeless clients can share to be better able to provide needed services.  Link to grant

In 2012, Lodestar made a grant to fund a consultant to explore the viability of a merger between Foundation Center and Guidestar. The resulting recommendation was to combine some technical operational functions but not to merge, although the seed was planted for the two nonprofits to work together. In 2018, we made a second grant to support due diligence investigation for a full merger of the two organizations. Our grants helped lay the groundwork for their merger – now known as Candid – for which more than $30 million has been raised to capitalize the new entity.  Link to grant

The UN Association of the USA (“UN-USA”) was established in the early 1940’s to garner support among Americans for the establishment and support of the UN and was led over the years by many prominent citizens, including Eleanor Roosevelt. The UN Foundation was created in 1998 by Ted Turner to support the UN’s mission to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation around shared interests and values. In 2010, a Lodestar grant facilitated the merger of the two organizations, through which UN-USA became a integrated as a division of the UN Foundation, greatly expanding the base of U.S. support for the UN.  Link to grant

There is an emerging trend of mergers between affiliates of national umbrella organizations to consolidate operations in order to optimize resources and impact.  An exemplary model is the merger in progress in South Carolina among three affiliates of Communities in Schools, the first such merger in that network . Lodestar supported the exploration of the merger and, after a year of due diligence, the affiliates have voted to proceed with the merger.  Link to grant

One of the High Atlas Foundation’s strategic initiatives is to improve agricultural productivity in Morocco’s disadvantaged Muslim communities. A Lodestar grant supported a collaboration between Jews and Muslims to plant 40,000 trees in Jewish cemeteries to be tended by local Muslim farmers in the Marrakesh area. Link to grant

J Street Education Fund, a national nonprofit devoted to promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, lacked a grassroots presence around the United States. A Lodestar grant supported the integration of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace), a national network of locally-based chapters, into J Street, empowering J Street to combine field operations with its national focus, thereby creating a more dynamic broad-based organization. Link to grant

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company needed a permanent home and the Dance Theater Workshop, a performance facility, needed a permanent tenant. The two New York City-based nonprofits ultimately merged to form New York Live Arts, achieving long-term financial stability, not only by sharing a venue but also reducing overlapping overheads and conducting a joint capital campaign. Link to grant


Arizona State University (ASU) Grants

In addition to the Pioneering grant for the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Center described above, Lodestar has made additional grants to Arizona State University (ASU) for special projects designed to enhance academic excellence and support the greater ASU community. These additional grants total more than $7,000,000, making Lodestar’s total contribution to ASU over $10,000,000.

As one of three Kellogg-funded university-based nonprofit education centers in the country, ASU’s founding emphasis was on scholarship and education of those interested in or already working in the nonprofit sector. Lodestar provided a grant to expand the scope of the center to incorporate both scholarship and practices in the area of philanthropy, leading to the enhanced Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, with the goal of becoming the center of philanthropic knowledge and activity in the southwestern U.S.  Link to grant

Me3 is an online interactive major and career quiz that students can take to explore their interests, options, and future. The tool is available to all high school and college students and career seekers who are unsure of their career path.  Currently, more than 500,000 students are engaged with the program. Link to grant

Center for Constitutional Design promotes nationwide conversations about constitutional reform and the advancement of constitutional democracy; suggests ways reforms could be implemented to preserve our constitutional system; leverages knowledge of other nations’ constitutions to better understand our own; and convenes, collaborates, and coordinates with citizens, thinkers, commentators, and institutions—nationally and internationally—to achieve these ends. The Lodestar Foundation made a multi-year grant to provide support for establishing an Advisory Board, hiring key staff positions to support Center initiatives, and public education regarding the meaning and limitations of the Constitution and possible solutions for addressing the limitations. Link to grant.

International Peace and Stabilization Grants

In addition to our pioneering work in the growth and stabilization of the Alliance for Middle East Peace described above, Lodestar has made substantial investments in other nonprofits promoting peaceful relations between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East and supporting dialogue and accommodation among world leaders to to maintain peace in trouble spots around the globe. We invested a total of over $2,500,000 in nonprofits such as Global Leadership Foundation, American Friends of Forum 2000, Tanenbaum, EastWest Institute, J Street Education Fund, and U.S./Middle East Project. A complete list of investments can be found in the database.

Pro-Democracy Grants

Believing that all of our citizens are entitled to a free, fair and transparent democracy, Lodestar has invested in a number of nonprofits focused on defending democratic ideals, norms and institutions and promoting liberty, equality and truth. Among our investments, which total more than $1,300,000, are grants to Sunlight Foundation, Niskanen Center, Renew Democracy Initiative, Coalition for Integrity, McCain Foundation, Represent.US, and Stand Up Republic. A complete list of grantees can be found in the database.

Justice Issues Grants

In addition to the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Center and the Free Expression Legal Network, both described in Pioneering Grants above, Lodestar has made over $3,500,000 in grants to support additional projects and programs promoting equal rights and expanded access to justice for all U.S. residents. Grantees include Florence Immigration & Refugee Rights Project, Immigrant Scholarship Fund at Arizona College Scholarship Foundation, American Constitution Society rule of law project, and the Standing Project of Brookings Institution. A complete list of grantees can be found in the database.