Name of Foundation: Charles Lafitte Foundation
Location: 714 Hi Crest Drive, Auburn, WA 98001
Contact Information: Jennifer Vertetis, President & Executive Director, [email protected]
Coverage Area: United States
Subject Area: Children’s Advocacy, Education, Medical Research and Initiatives, Arts
Assets: $9,905,676 (2014)
Last Year Total Giving: $871,811 (2014)
In a Nutshell:
Jeffrey and Suzanne Citron founded the Charles Lafitte Foundation (CLF) in 1999 to “help people help themselves and the others around them to lead healthy, satisfying and enriched lives.” The foundation’s namesake is not the French champagne, but rather the founding family’s black Labrador retriever also named Charles Lafitte, according to the website.
The Citrons met while working at Datek Securities in the 1990s, as both cut their teeth in finance and trading. He went on to start multiple companies, the most high profile of which is Vonage, the communications company which he still runs. The couple also co-founded New World Aviation, which Suzanne ran until 1998, when the couple’s first of two children was born.
That first child, Kyra Citron, is now in her late teens, and has an active hand in the foundation as the director of CLF’s Kid’s Corner, which supports projects that children and youth advocate for through an application process and essay contest.
The foundation’s leadership circle is small. Working with Jeffrey, Suzanne and Kyra Citron is the foundation’s president, Jennifer Vertetis, as well as its program manager, Joelle Meyer. The five work to distribute between .5 and 1.5 million dollars annually, in the foundation’s main program areas.
CLF emphasizes supporting organizations that can become self-sustaining, and that show measurable impact.
Major Program Categories:
CLF focuses philanthropy on children’s advocacy, education, medical research and initiatives, and the arts. The amounts given to each program area vary from year to year. In 2015 the foundation gave roughly $106,500 to child advocacy efforts, while in 2013 those grants totaled $826,000.
While the foundation has given to causes across the nation, many of its grants land in New Jersey, with a special focus on Brielle, where the Citron family lives.
The organization’s most significant recent child advocacy funds have supported the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties to distribute backpacks of food for weekends to children who depend on subsidized school lunch. It has also contributed significantly to CASA of New Jersey.
One-time grants and annual grants are both on the table for the organization, and the giving history posted on its website shows a number of organizations receiving allocations from year to year, and for multiple projects. Additionally, the organization has hosted an annual golf fundraiser. Funds raised by the tournament are matched by the foundation. The 2014 fundraising event benefitted CASA of New Jersey, which received over $375,000 from the partnership.
Finally, there is the aforementioned Kid’s Corner, which enables children to drive the philanthropic process. Kids can participate in an essay contest, be nominated as a “Junior Changemaker,” or apply generally for grants on behalf of nonprofit organizations that have impacted their lives.
How to Apply:
The application process is technically available to 501(c)(3) organizations through CLF’s website, although its outline of giving preferences states that “due to the volume of inquiries, the Foundation is unable to respond to unsolicited submissions.”
The online process begins with a short quiz, to determine nonprofit status and grant eligibility, after which users can begin the formal application process.
The opportunities to connect with the Kid’s Corner are rolling. September 30, 2016 marks the deadline to enter the Summer Reading Adventure Essay Contest. Past contest topics have focused on bullying prevention month, and generosity. Winners receive a Kindle Fire and $1,000 for their school library.
Recent News and Grantmaking: