“Dear Peter,” writes Warren Buffet, businessman, investor and world renowned philanthropist, to his son, “I am enormously proud of the way in which you have managed the resources of the foundation that Mom and I established for you. Your thinking has been good, and your actions have been effective in helping those less fortunate than our family has been.” The elder Buffet continues, in a letter that would signal the formal creation of the NoVo Foundation as it exists today, to pledge 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the corpus of Peter and Jennifer Buffet’s globally focused foundation.
The name NoVo comes from the Latin word for “new,” reflecting the approach and the kind of change the foundation’s leadership hopes to drive. According to its website, “it captures the essence of our mission, which is to create a more balanced world by changing social attitudes, relationships, and institutions that perpetuate justice.”
The foundation prioritizes collaboration and partnership and investing in local economies and solutions. For example, in 2016 Peter and Jennifer Buffet announced a new commitment of $90 million to the foundation, dedicated toward addressing challenges facing girls and young women of color. A strategy for how that money would be spent was only rolled out after a year-long listening tour around the United States, soliciting insight and feedback from girls and women themselves.
Major Program Categories: The areas that the foundation focuses on are advancing adolescent girls’ rights, ending violence against girls and women, advancing social and emotional learning, promoting local living economies, and supporting indigenous communities in North America.
Rather than “programs” it views these areas as initiatives, or critical pathways as part of NoVo Foundation’s mission to “foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership.”
The NoVo Foundation’s 2015 form 990 shows a wide and significant array of grants, ranging from a handful of awards under $5,000 to grants in the millions of dollars made to organizations such as Turnaround for Children, and The Land Institute, as well as other philanthropic organizations to partner on projects with priorities that align with NoVo. There is also a long list of large grants to be paid in the future, underscoring the foundation’s desire to partner for long term impact.
How to Apply: Generally, the NoVo Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, and is very strategic about the partners it pursues working with. However, “NoVo is always interested in learning about new and innovative approaches to the issues upon which we are focused. If you wish to communicate about your organization, please do so through the Contact Us page,” according to the frequently asked questions page of its website.
It is also worth watching the foundation’s press and webpage, because there may be opportunities to connect with specific initiatives. For example, the foundation is currently looking for community partners in specific regions to collaborate on its advancing adolescent girls’ rights initiatives.
Name of Foundation: NoVo Foundation
Location: New York, NY
Contact Information: Contact page or phone – (212) 808-5400
Coverage Area: Global
Subject Area: Advancing Adolescent Girls’ Rights, Ending Violence Against Girls & Women, Advancing Social and Emotional Learning, Promoting Local Living Economies, Supporting Indigenous Communities in North America
Total Assets: $528, 162,041 (2015)
Total Grants Paid During Last Year: $82,504,339 (2015)
Recent News and Grantmaking: