F. M. Kirby Foundation announces $14.1 million in grants

News and Stories

Sansay House – Morristown, New Jersey
F. M. Kirby Foundation

MORRISTOWN January 10, 2022

The F. M. Kirby Foundation Board of Trustees announced 248 grants totaling $14,136,250 were made in 2021 to nonprofit organizations working to foster self-reliance and create strong, healthy communities in a year of unprecedented challenges. Over half of these organizations have been in at least 20-year partnerships with the Foundation, which holds a philosophy of long-term investments in effective programs.

The Foundation’s 2021 grantmaking included increased contributions to nonprofit organizations in the arts and humanities, education, environment, health and medicine, human services, public policy, and religion. Some 104 grants totaling over $5.7 million were awarded to New Jersey-based nonprofit organizations working to make a direct impact on people’s lives throughout the state, 66 of which, totaling $3.5 million, supported work in Morris County, the Foundation’s home county. Additional grants totaling $8.4 million supported organizations in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, regions connected to Kirby family members, as well as national nonprofits largely based in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Additionally, recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate effects on historically disadvantaged groups, the Foundation committed $3.5 million in support of current and new nonprofit partners working to increase access to resources, address immediate needs, and advocate for change for underrepresented groups.

The 2021 calendar year also marked several leadership changes within the Foundation as longtime President S. Dillard Kirby stepped down in September, though remains on the board, and Executive Director Justin Kiczek assumed the leadership role, while Laura H. Virkler transitioned into the role of Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Looking back over the year of change and challenges, Justin Kiczek noted, “A common theme to our grantmaking this past year was resilience. Though Covid continued to be of concern, we saw our grantee partners in 2021 emerge from the shutdowns and disruption of 2020 to implement new ways of offering services, reaching audiences, and taking care of their communities. However, in many cases, the challenges our partners faced did not ebb, so we continued to offer, in over 52% of our total grantmaking, general operating support, allowing non-profit leaders to respond quickly and flexibly to shifting needs. We were also mindful that some communities were overburdened by the pandemic, so we were pleased to bring on a number of new grantees meeting basic needs, such as Book Harvest of Durham, N.C.; nourish.NJ of Morristown, N.J., and America’s Grow-A-Row of Pittstown, N.J.”

Laura H. Virkler added, “While we heard so many inspiring examples of resilience, it was also a year for innovation and re-invention. We were proud to support organizations like Habitat for Humanity Orange County in North Carolina, an organization that is boldly re-imagining what affordable communities can look like. Within our medical research grants, we saw breakthrough discoveries at institutions like JDRF and Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, culminations of years of steady support along with bold risk-taking by these organizations and their researchers.”

About the F. M. Kirby Foundation:

The F. M. Kirby Foundation is headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey. Endowed in 1931 by Fred Morgan Kirby, one of the founders of the F.W. Woolworth Company, it was designed to continue in perpetuity through generations of the family. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded nearly $750 million in grants. Five Kirby family members, currently spanning two generations, serve on the Board, as well as two non-family directors.