Samuel S. Fels Fund


Funding Focus

We believe that the most powerful change can come when we honor and support the brilliance and resilience of the people in marginalized communities we serve. This means investing in organizations that ground their work in solidarity with communities, often led by people from those communities.

We have defined four separate funding streams and ask that you apply to only one with the understanding that your work may intersect them all.

Photo Credit: Tony Boris

arts & culture

Amplifying culture, voice & social justice

The arts can be one of the most nourishing and powerful engines of social change when driven by those marginalized by race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, immigration status, physical ability, mental health, age or other social or legal status.

We provide two-year grants (primarily general operating funds) for exemplary Philadelphia arts and culture organizations whose primary mission is to do one or more of the following:

  • use their art to expose and confront the policies, institutions and systems that create disparities and harm marginalized communities
  • lift marginalized voices in pursuit of social change
  • strengthen, preserve and/or share social or cultural identities and traditions

Grantee Spotlights:

Focused Populations

youth in-and-exiting child welfare

Supporting safety & stability

We value young people and seek to nurture their voices, build their power and engage them in civic life. But transitioning from teenage years to adulthood can be hard, especially for youth involved in the child welfare/foster care system.

While some of these young people live with relatives, many have been stripped of the supportive ties of family, community and culture. They face complex hurdles in education, employment, housing and other basic needs. Thirty to 40% of youth exiting the foster care system are homeless within a few months. And whether they have experience in the child welfare/foster care system or have avoided it by sleeping on friends’ or strangers’ couches, an estimated 40% of youth with insecure housing are LGBTQ. Many are vulnerable to sex trafficking and/or the prison pipeline.

We provide grants (primarily general operating funds) for organizations and coalitions that:

  • build connection, safety, stability and opportunity for older youth in-and-exiting the child welfare/foster care system
  • promote laws, policies and practice that help youth with experience in the system to successfully transition to adulthood
  • explore the role race, economics, legal status and other social factors play in decisions to separate youth from their families

We prioritize those organizations that embrace youth voice and leadership in their work with youth in child welfare/foster care.

Grantee Spotlights:

Focused Populations

immigrants & refugees

Enhancing opportunities & advancement

Our immigrant, refugee, asylee and asylum seeker friends, neighbors, co-workers and community leaders are part of Philadelphia’s identity, and their continued contributions are essential in maintaining a strong economic, civic and cultural fabric.

Our goal is to support organizations that protect and strengthen the resources, policies, laws and systems for inclusion, integration and advancement of low-income newcomers, their families and communities. We provide two-year grants (primarily general operating funds) for organizations and coalitions that offer:

  • direct services (language and education, citizenship, social and cultural interactions, well-being and economic mobility, legal representation)
  • advocacy (equitable treatment and opportunity)
  • and power-building (know-your-rights trainings and community organizing)

Grantee Spotlights:

social, racial & economic justice

Building solidarity, protecting rights and advancing equity/inclusion

Fels Fund has a proud history of taking a stand on issues of social, racial and economic justice and has often worked in coalition to advance equity issues in public education, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and the criminal justice system through research, advocacy, organizing, legal and other services.

We provide one-year grants (primarily project-based) for new ideas and proven approaches specific to improving social, racial and economic justice for marginalized communities. Requests may include advocacy, organizing, legal and other services with an emphasis on systems change and building power in communities harmed by inequitable policies and institutions.

Grantee Spotlights: