Koerner Foundation grant changes

We received an important release for the The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation announcing changes to their grant programs. As you know, foundations everywhere have taken a pounding by the economic downturn. The Koerner Foundation has been a stalwart supporter of the arts and we are greatly saddened by their current predicament.

The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation today announced significant changes to its granting process.  The changes are intended to ensure that Foundation funding remains available to all three areas traditionally supported by the organization – cultural and creative arts, social services, and pre-professional students in the arts.  Changes announced today include:

  • a shift from twice annual to a once a year application intake effective immediately with no applications being accepted for the balance of 2009,
  • a new deadline date for funding applications, and
  • a new application form reflecting changes in granting criteria.

 “The Board of Governors is making these changes to the Foundation’s granting process in response to the dramatic changes in the economy and the desire to assist not-for-profit organizations in sustaining some measure of financial stability,”  said Gillian Chetty, Chairperson of the Foundation. “Unlike some other granting organizations that have temporarily suspended granting in the face of reduced endowment income, the Board of Governors has chosen instead to move to a single intake per year which will help us better manage our operating costs, yet still support the organizations that rely on the Foundation.”

The Board also decided that the single application intake will be in place for at least three years (2010, 2011 and 2012) at which time a review of its efficacy will be undertaken.  Ms. Chetty noted that, in moving to a single application intake each year, the Board of Governors believes the Foundation will able to better serve its constituents by enabling them to plan further ahead.  The administrative burden of twice-annual applications will be halved, and funding decisions will be announced earlier in the calendar year to assist organizations to accurately project resources and leverage complementary funding.

“After a careful consideration and analysis of the Foundation’s financial status and outlook, the Board of Governors has decided to continue to support its constituents at a level consistent with our granting in recent years,” added Ms. Chetty. “In so doing, the Foundation will remain true to the intentions of Dr. and Mrs. Koerner when they established the Foundation in 1955. We believe they would want every effort made to continue to provide assistance, particularly now when times are more challenging.”

Their belief in the benefits of higher education for young people, in the importance of the arts to the community as nourishment for the human spirit and their recognition that these and other enterprises of a social welfare nature were in need of encouragement in their new land prompted them to establish The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation with an endowment of $1,000,000 in 1955.  It was the third private foundation in the province, and the first to be founded by immigrants.  In more than fifty years of continuous grant making since then, the Foundation has provided in excess of nine million dollars in funding to individuals and not for profit organizations in communities throughout British Columbia and in the Yukon.

Starting in 2010, the new single application deadline will be February 28th for all three areas of funding by the Foundation – cultural and creative arts, social services, and pre-professional students in the arts.  A new application form will be developed in the coming months and will be made available on the Foundation’s website, www.koernerfoundation.ca, in the fall.  Funding criteria and eligibility are currently under review, and the resulting changes will be announced on the website and reflected in the new forms. 

The Foundation recently reviewed its pilot project involving multi-year granting, and based on results of that review the Board of Governors has decided to discontinue that program.  Current multi-year funding commitments will be honoured for the remainder of their terms, if the original conditions of the awards are met (including the submission of satisfactory progress reports as required).

The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation was established in 1955 by Dr. and Mrs. Koerner, whose good fortune in their adopted homeland of British Columbia instilled in them a deep and lasting gratitude for the opportunity they had been given to start their life over again in a free and democratic country. Leon and Thea Koerner decided the best way they to express their deep feelings was by embarking on a program of philanthropy to enrich the province they felt had been so good to them.


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