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The Skillman Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-06-04

At A Glance

The Skillman Foundation

100 Talon Centre Dr., Ste. 100

Detroit, MI United States 48207-4266

Telephone: (313) 393-1185


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $475,042,070

Total giving: $18,242,019






Incorporated in 1960 in MI - Founded by Rose Skillman, who was the widow of Robert H. Skillman, former director and vice-president of the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. During the period from inception through December 31, 1983, the foundation operated as a "conduit" entity whereby annual contributions from its founder were passed through as qualifying distributions to charitable organizations. As a result of the death of the founder in 1983, annual contributions will no longer be received. Instead, the foundation received a substantial capital contribution from the Robert H. Skillman Trust and the Rose P. Skillman Estate in 1984 The grantmaker is a signatory to Philanthropy’s Promise, an initiative of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). By signing on, the grantmaker has committed to allocating the majority of its grantmaking dollars to marginalized communities and at least 25 percent to social justice strategies, such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement

Purpose and Activities

The foundation is a resource for improving the lives of children in metropolitan Detroit, MI. Children in disadvantaged situations are of special concern. The foundation applies its resources to foster positive relationships between children and adults, support high quality learning opportunities and strengthen healthy, safe and supportive homes and communities.

Program Area(s)

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

Community Connections Small Grants

The program provides a way for the foundation to support innovative, grassroots efforts to impact community change in the six targeted neighborhoods. The foundation typically awards grants to nonprofit organizations with federal tax-exempt status and revenues greater than $100,000. It awards grants of $500 to $5,000 and gives the foundation flexibility to provide opportunities beyond these limitations and makes it possible to respond quickly to community needs. A panel made up of residents from six neighborhoods meets monthly to review grant applications and make funding recommendations for grants. To learn more, or apply for a small grant, visit the foundation's partner and program administrator Prevention Network: .

Community Leadership

The program's goal is to address community divisions that undercut progress through investments in community leadership. The program will identify opportunities to bridge New Detroit and Old Detroit and drive an “Our Detroit” framework, build out crosscutting, intensive leadership opportunities for key, diverse leaders, and build on the extraordinary success of the small grants program and integrate opportunities for “unlikely partners” to work together, reposition and expand parent leadership work, build out “caring adults” work, focusing on key strategy levers and address family literacy and other academic tutoring .


The foundation believes all children in Detroit should have access to high-quality schools right in their neighborhoods. The foundation thinks this means excellent math and reading instruction, a school culture that personalizes students’ experiences and incorporates students’ voice in decision making, and strong connections between the school and community. The overall goal is to develop high-performing schools, embedded in each neighborhood of Detroit .

Employee Matching Gifts

The foundation matches gifts of employees to various charitable organizations.

Good Neighborhoods Program

Launched in 2006, Good Neighborhoods (GN) is a 10-year, $100-million program that focuses on six Detroit neighborhoods -- Brightmoor, Chadsey Condon, Cody Rouge, Northend Central Woodward, Osborn and Southwest Detroit -- they were selected because of the large numbers of children living there. The foundation tailors its approach in each place so that children have clear pathways to graduating high school and leading successful lives as adults. To do that, foundation will focus on four areas: high-quality education; youth development; safety; and community leadership.

Program-Related Investment

Historically, the foundation has made a PRI in the form of a loan to a youth development organization for a program designed to promote financial education.


The goal of the program is to increase the felt and real safety of children living in our neighborhoods, with an initial focus on work in Osborn, Southwest Detroit and Cody Rouge. The foundation is working with residents, grassroots safety organizations, the city of Detroit police department, corporate partners, other citywide safety initiatives and youth to improve neighborhood-level safety and reduce crime, improve safe routes to school and reduce blight. .

Social Innovation

The program is a commitment to attacking old problems in new ways, working with unlikely partners, piloting programs, reacting quickly as external context dictates, trying new things and being unafraid to fail -- as long as we're failing forward. The foundation is also introducing new types of funding, include Program-Related Investments and Mission-Related Investments, and soon, social venture funds.The program's goal is to unleash social innovation and market-based solutions to benefit children, support education and strengthen neighborhoods .

Youth Development

The program's goal is to increase the number of youth who graduate from high school prepared to pursue post-secondary education and who have the skills to transition into careers and adulthood. A central strategy the foundation uses to pursue that goal is increasing the quantity and quality of youth development opportunities in six Detroit neighborhoods — Brightmoor, Cody Rouge, Chadsey Condon, Northend Central, Osborn, and Southwest Detroit. The foundation will use a competitive RFP process .

Fields of Interest

  • Addiction services
  • Arts and culture
  • Child development
  • Child educational development
  • Child welfare
  • Crime prevention
  • Early childhood education
  • Education
  • Family services
  • Food aid
  • Health
  • Homeless services
  • Human services
  • Performing arts
  • Reading promotion
  • Sports and recreation
  • Visual arts
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Homeless people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $475,042,070 (market value)

Gifts received: $175

Expenditures: $27,934,678

Total giving: $18,242,019

Qualifying distributions: $24,046,739