The Irving Foundation has funded a great variety of organizations in the areas of education, the environment, and the arts, both in the United States and abroad. In recent years, the focus of the Foundation has been on funding organizations that support youth and their families. This page contains a small sample of the organizations that have received grants in recent years.
The Irving Foundation is proud to support Solar Youth, an organization in New Haven dedicated to empowering youth from New Haven's low income neighborhoods to achieve lifelong success. Through programs that connect youth to the environment, their communities and each other, youth build the skills and motivations necessary to contribute positively to their community, create healthy relationships, maintain physical and mental health, and develop economic self-sufficiency.
In programs customized for different age cohorts, Solar Youth creates opportunity for inner-city youth to explore the natural world in and outside their neighborhoods. Focusing in three high-poverty neighborhoods of New Haven, Solar Youth’s unique program model includes long-term supportive relationships, programs that happen in their neighborhoods, where youth explore their natural environments, become problem-solvers, and practice leadership.
Programs are at no cost to families, and take place during and after school, on weekends and holidays, and throughout the summer. Since its founding in 2000, more than 3,500 youth ages 4 to 18+ have participated in Solar Youth.
"The Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens, (MERIT), based in Baltimore, Maryland, is a pipeline leadership program for under-represented high school students who aspire to become health care professionals. Scholars in the program are holistically supported with medical student mentors, internships in hospitals and labs, college admissions counseling, Saturday classes, and much more. The ultimate goal is to empower leaders from the community who will work to eliminate health care disparities."
The Entreamigos Centro Comunitario Educativo is a community education center operating in the rural village of San Pancho, Mexico. The center serves as a platform for education and as a nexus of ideas and empowerment for all members of the community. Entreamigos offers a variety of programs, ranging from technology and English-language training to sports classes and skill-building workshops that promote self-sufficiency and community-building. Recently, the Irving Foundation funded an Entreamigos adult entrepreneur program called Cambiando Mi Futuro that supported the creation of four small businesses by individuals in the greater San Pancho community. All of these businesses are still running and providing supplemental income for their owners.
ArtVan is an community-based art therapy organization based in Maine. Their mission is, " to provide a creative and collaborative environment to encourage youth who have little or no arts access to fully express their imaginations, relationships and experiences within themselves, among their peers and across our communities."
Perspectives Debate, Inc.
Six years ago, the Irving Foundation funded what was then called Perspectives Debate, Inc. This program was initially launched as a way to get underserved high schoolers and middle schoolers in Philadelphia involved in academic debate. Academic debate has been proven to increase outcomes for students, because it teaches crucial literacy, critical thinking, and public speaking skills. Since 2010, the program has expanded considerably, into a student group at the University of Pennsylvania called Penn for Youth Debate (PFYD). PFYD recruits volunteers from Penn to work as debate coaches for the students. Combined, Perspectives and PFYD grew so large that Perspectives chose to be absorbed by a local nonprofit, the Afterschool Activities Partnership, that had more capacity for administrative work. Today, PFYD and the Afterschool Activities Partnership work together to execute debate programs in several dozen schools throughout Philadelphia, serving over one hundred students per year. PFYD continues to provide volunteers to coach the programs, and also hosts biannual tournaments for the students at Penn, where they can win scholarship funds and are introduced to the college experience. Notably, of the original cohort of students that the Irving Foundation helped to fund, 100% of the students went on to four-year colleges, including several students to the University of Pennsylvania.