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S. H. Cowell Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-05-11

At A Glance

S. H. Cowell Foundation

595 Market St., Ste. 950

San Francisco, CA United States 94105-2816

Telephone: (415) 397-0285


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $131,562,459

Total giving: $4,910,969






Established in 1956 in CA - A businessman and philanthropist, S.H. Cowell was president of the Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Company, which was founded by his father, Henry Cowell. The foundation was established through a bequest from S.H. Cowell

Purpose and Activities

The goal of the foundation is to improve the quality of life of children and families living in Northern and Central California by making grants that directly support and strengthen children, families, and the neighborhoods where they live. Priority is given to communities where Cowell has made, or could make, place-based complementary grants in Northern and Central California towns and neighborhoods where there is widespread and acute poverty and there are strong working relationships among residents and institutional leaders. The foundation funds efforts to increase a town or neighborhood’s capacity to engage and serve its low-income families. These guidelines apply across all program areas: Family Resources Centers, K-12 Public Education, Responsive, Youth Development and affordable Housing.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Affordable Housing Grants

Proposed projects must involve increasing the number of affordable homes for low-income families in a given community. In addition, funding is focused in communities that Cowell already supports through its other main program areas (Family Resource Centers, K-12 Public Education, and Youth Development). Proposals are considered for: Construction, preservation and rehabilitation of family housing; predevelopment working capital, including planning, land acquisition, and architectural design; helping communities develop policies that support increasing the number of affordable homes; community spaces in affordable housing developments that provide activities for families, after-school spaces, and computer labs. For more information visit the foundation's web site.

Education Grants

Proposed projects must benefit public elementary and secondary schools (K-12) that serve a significant number or portion of students in a given community. The foundation makes two general types of grants: 1) Grants to school districts; and 2) Grants to education resource organizations that work with schools and school districts. The majority of Cowell grants support the induction and professional development of teachers to help schools develop effective, coherent and responsive instructional programs. The program also fund projects that support students' learning by strengthening connections among schools, families and other agencies in the community, and projects that link classroom lessons to carefully aligned and structured programs beyond the school. For more information visit the foundation's web site.

Family Resource Center Grants

Proposed projects must involve the establishment a new FRC or strengthening an existing one. All FRC projects seeking support must demonstrate potential for long-term sustainability and documented success at helping to improve the well-being of children, families and communities. For more information visit the foundation's web site .

Program-Related Investment

Projects funded by the foundation’s PRIs are limited to the following types that have a track record of repaying loans and have a prior relationship with the foundation: 1) The purchase/build-out/construction of operating facilities for non-profit organizations; 2) The purchase of land for affordable housing, nonprofit facilities and community development; 3) Bridge loans providing temporary financing to a borrower who has secured a loan or who has a receivable at a point in the future and who needs the funds for the above-stated purposes before that funding is put in place; or 4) Fiscal intermediaries who will re-lend the loaned funds for the above-stated purposes .

Responsive Category

Responsive grants are typically available to communities that already receive support from the foundation and have a critical need or unique circumstances which fall beyond the parameters of the foundation's program priorities. For more information visit the foundation's web site .

Youth Development Grants

Proposed projects must involve launching a new program or strengthening an existing one. This might include improving the quality of existing programs, increasing access to high-quality programs so they have a greater impact in a specific neighborhood, or increasing the capacity of proven organizations so that successful programs can be sustained over the long-term. For more information visit the foundation's web site .

Fields of Interest

  • Education
  • Elementary and secondary education
  • Family services
  • Housing development
  • Human services
  • Youth development
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Adolescents
  • American Indians
  • Children
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Female children and youth
  • Infants and toddlers
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Male children and youth
  • People of African descent
  • People of Asian descent
  • People of Latin American descent
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $131,562,459 (market value)

Expenditures: $7,292,759

Total giving: $4,910,969

Qualifying distributions: $6,617,318