In a Nutshell: In 1927, J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott drove from Utah to begin a new life in Washington, D.C. There, the newlyweds opened “a nine-stool A&W root beer stand,” which would be the first step in the family’s enterprises that turned Marriott into a name recognized around the world today. With the help of their sons, the Marriotts grew the root beer stand into a chain of successful restaurants, which grew into one of the largest companies in hospitality, with more than 41,000 properties around the world making up Marriott International.
The Marriotts’ commitment to philanthropy, guided largely by Alice Marriott, was consistent as the business grew, and in 1965 the family created the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. The foundation’s focus is to “[sustain] vibrant, healthy communities where all people have the opportunities to achieve their dreams and make a positive difference in the world.”
J.W. and Alice’s sons Bill and Dick Marriott lead a board made up of Marriott family members, and the foundation is otherwise governed by a four-person staff. The foundation’s giving is steered by this group, which consults with experts in the field to develop giving strategies in five program areas of focus and seek out high-impact organizations to offer financial support.
Major Program Categories: The Marriott Foundation’s giving categories are broad, and create several channels through which the foundation funds projects that serve children, youth and families. The foundation offers grants single year and multi-year grants for direct programs as well as general operating support. It will also consider funding endowments, scholarship and capital campaigns.
Through its education grants, it supports early childhood education programs in Washington, D.C., developing quality teachers and leaders in education, investing in quality academic support programs and closing the achievement gap in math and reading for K-12 students, and developing career and college readiness. Past grantees include organizations such as College Success Foundation and Urban Teachers.
This element of career readiness also reaches the Marriott Foundation’s aims with its hospitality-oriented giving, which sees the foundation not only investing in university-level programs in the U.S. and globally, but also “to introduce middle school and high school students to the world of hospitality and create pathways to pursue hospitality careers if that is where their passions lead,” according to the website.
The Marriott Foundation’s grants in the area of health support facilities and clinics in the Washington, D.C. area. Additionally, it supports medical research and disease-specific support, as well as mental health through “education, advocacy and community service programs,” such as the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County.
The foundation’s giving in opportunity and community program areas cover a wide range of efforts, including youth development, workforce development, safety net services, and food security, in addition to support for people with disabilities, arts and culture, and capacity-building of local nonprofits and direct support to build stronger local communities. Organizations such as DC Central Kitchen, Bridges from School to Work, and Brainfood have received opportunity funds, and KaBOOM! and A Wider Circle are amongst those to receive community-oriented funds.
To learn more about all program areas and highlighted grantees, click here.
How to Apply: Broadly speaking, the Marriott Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. Instead, under the guidance of trustees, the foundation seeks out organizations doing the work it is interested in supporting and invites them to apply.
That being said, organizations that wish to throw their names in the hat for possible consideration may have an opportunity to connect. The foundation’s website explains, “while we do not accept unsolicited proposals, if you have carefully reviewed our grant making priorities and would like to tell us about your organization, you may email your general inquiry to [email protected]. This email is checked periodically by Foundation staff and you will be contacted only if your organization fits with Foundation priorities.”
For organizations invited to apply, March 1 and September 1 are the two annual deadlines to submit proposals. Click here for more information on the application process and an FAQ page.
Name of Foundation: The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Contact Information: [email protected] or by mail sent to Marriott
Foundation, 10400 Fernwood Road, Bethesda, MD, 20817
Coverage Area: National
Subject Area: Education, Hospitality, Opportunity, Community, Health
Total Assets: $464,362,744 (2015)
Last Year Total Grants Paid: $32,318,847 (2015)
Recent News and Grantmaking: