Thomas Jefferson observed that "the ground of liberty is won by inches." The Norman Foundation seeks to help win some of those precious inches.  We support efforts that strengthen the ability of communities to determine their own economic, environmental and social well-being, and that help people control those forces that affect their lives.  These efforts may:

  • promote economic justice and development through community organizing, coalition building and policy reform efforts;
  • work to prevent the disposal of toxics in communities, and to link environmental issues with economic and social justice;
  • link community-based economic and environmental justice organizing to national and international reform efforts.

We will consider the following in evaluating grant proposals:

  • Does the project arise from the hopes and efforts of those whose survival, well-being and liberation are directly at stake?
  • Does it further ethnic, gender and other forms of equity?
  • Is it rooted in organized, practical undertakings?
  • Is it likely to achieve systemic change?

In pursuing systemic change, we would hope that:

  • the proposed action may serve as a model;
  • the spread of the model may create institutions that can survive on their own;
  • their establishment and success may generate beneficial adaptations by other political, social and economic institutions and structures.

The Foundation provides grants for general support, projects, and collaborative efforts. We also welcome innovative proposals designed to build the capacity of social change organizations working in our areas of interest.   Priority is given to organizations with annual budgets of under $1 million.

The Norman Foundation is a family foundation and decisions are made by the foundation's members.  In addition to our general grants program, the foundation makes a few grants from affiliated, smaller family funds as well as a number of donor-advised grants each year, which reflect the individual interests of family members.


The Foundation does not make grants to individuals or universities; or to support conferences, scholarships, research, films, media and arts projects; or to capital funding projects, fundraising drives or direct social service programs, such as shelters or community health programs.  The Foundation's grant making is restricted to U.S.-based organizations.