Established in 1985, the Atlas Family Foundation truly reflects the strengths and skillsets of its founders, Richard and Lezlie Atlas. Before retiring in 1994, Richard Atlas was a partner at investment bank Goldman Sachs. Lezlie Atlas was trained as an early childhood development specialist, and held a leadership role at the Early Childhood Parenting Center. While the family had always given philanthropically, it was a conversation with fellow philanthropist Bob Haas that pointed Richard and the Atlas Family Foundation toward focused giving, appealing to his investor’s background and sense of getting the largest return on an investment.
Today, the foundation highlights early childhood investment as the most high-impact way to set a child up for success, and create overall societal change. The Southern California-based foundation is run by Richard and Lezlie Atlas, their children and spouses, and a small staff, led by Executive Director Janis Minton. It was a leader in creating the Los Angeles Partnership for Early Childhood Investment, and represents just one facet of the Atlas family’s philanthropic endeavors.
Major Program Categories: Thematically, the Atlas Family Foundation supports prenatal and early childhood development programs and efforts. This support is manifested in “direct services, intervention and education programs for children prenatal to three and their families, and public policy/advocacy that create systemic change improving their lives.” The list of types of projects the foundation considers funding underscores an emphasis on “fluidity” that keeps grants relevant and meaningful to these issues.
Specifically, the organization highlights funding direct services, infant and toddler mental health and parenting education. It also supports nonprofit partners through capacity and program-building seed grants, and dollars for program evaluation, strategic planning, communications strategy, and staff and leadership education and training. While it will not fund legislation, it will support public policy and advocacy efforts. Click here for more details on what the Atlas Family Foundation does and does not fund.
How to Apply: Connecting with the Atlas Family Foundation is a process with multiple steps because, in the eyes of the foundation, a grant is treated as an investment. As Richard Atlas told Argonaut Online in 2009, “We look for partners who will trust us to be an equal partner, not the most powerful.”
It is worth noting that the foundation currently does not accept any unsolicited proposals.
For those the organization does engage with, the process begins with “getting to know one another,” according to the Foundation’s website, wherein leadership meet with the foundation and get familiar with one another’s philosophy and work. After this meeting, an organization may be invited to submit a one-page letter of inquiry (LOI).
If the LOI continues to garner interest from the foundation’s staff and board, you will be invited to submit a full proposal, which will be crafted with support and feedback from the Atlas Family Foundation in the hopes of helping the nonprofit “formulate a grantseeking approach that can be used in the future with other funders.”
The fourth and final phase of the application process is “due diligence,” wherein the foundation works to learn about a potential partner’s organization on a deeper level. Click here to learn more.
Name of Foundation: The Atlas Family Foundation
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact Information: 310.829.4771; email Executive Director Janis Minton at [email protected]
Coverage Area: Southern California
Subject Area: Prenatal and early childhood development
Assets: $1,569,484 (2014)
Last Year Total Giving: $1,213,460.51 (2014)
Recent News and Grantmaking: