Public Welfare Foundation

At the turn of the 20th century, Charles Edward Marsh worked as a “$25-a-week rookie reporter for a small Oklahoma newspaper.” Marsh was enterprising, and by the late 1920s he had partnered with brothers Charles L. and E.S. Fentress to create the Marsh-Fentress newspaper chain. He began a life that would see him liaise with politicians, such as good friend Lyndon Baines Johnson; travel the world, often in the company of beloved author Roald Dahl and his wife; and cultivate a commitment to serving those in need that has outlived Marsh through his establishment of Public Welfare Foundation.

Marsh founded Public Welfare Foundation in 1947, and “deliberately chose a vague name to evolve with the times,” according to the organization’s website. The foundation’s mission today is to “[support] efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need.”

The foundation has grown to have over $480 million in assets, which are guided by a 13-person staff and 12-person Board of Directors. Click here to learn more about Public Welfare Foundation’s governance and its grantmaking approach, which is outlined in survey data.

Major Program Categories: In an effort to “advance justice and opportunity for people in need,” Public Welfare Foundation commits its giving to the areas of criminal justice, juvenile justice, workers’ rights, and at the moment, a special initiative to advance legal aid.

It is worth noting that the foundation does not fund direct services, instead funding projects aimed at systems reform, research and strategic leadership. Its juvenile justice funding is dedicated to reducing the reliance on incarceration of youth and ending the criminalization that has resulted in “an estimated 60,000 youth – the overwhelming majority of whom are accused of minor and non-violent offenses … in a correctional facility or out-of-home placement.”

According to Public Welfare Foundation’s website, juvenile justice grants support groups that are working to

  • Advance state policies that dramatically restrict juvenile justice systems’ use of incarceration and out-of-home placements and prioritize the use of community-based programs for youth;
  • End the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth in the adult criminal justice system; and
  • Promote the fair and equitable treatment of youth of color who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

In the past, grants have supported groups such as the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center, Interfaith Worker Center, Juvenile Justice Initiative of Illinois.

To learn more about the ways in which Public Welfare Foundation allocates funds to driving change and reform in all three of its program categories, see its program guidelines.

How to Apply: Public Welfare Foundation accepts letters of inquiry (LOI) for funding related to its core program areas throughout the year via an online portal. Submitting this online LOI is the required first step for connecting with the foundation. You can access the portal by clicking here.

According to Public Welfare Foundation’s website, potential applicants will generally be notified within 30 days if their LOI has been declined or if they are invited to submit a grant proposal.

Name of Foundation: Public Welfare Foundation

Location: Washington D.C.


Contact Information: 202.965.1800 or

Coverage Area: National

Subject Area: Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice,Workers’ Rights

Assets: $482,933,144 (2014)

Last Year Total Grants Paid: $20,604,626 (2014)

Recent News and Grantmaking:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Elizabeth Green
About Elizabeth Green 43 Articles
Elizabeth Green is the community outreach and education manager for Fostering Media Connections, and a general assignment reporter for The Chronicle of Social Change.