Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation Grant Program

Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building, Capital Project, General Operating Expense, Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Counties in Indiana: Boone County, Brown County, Hamilton County, Hancock County, Hendricks County Show all

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:




The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation awards grants to tax-exempt organizations serving greater Indianapolis, Indiana. The Foundation has three focus areas: Education, Health, and the Vitality of Indianapolis. In addition, several organizations receive grant support from the Foundation due to a historical connection with Dick Fairbanks and his family.

As a general philosophy, the Foundation seeks to support organizations and initiatives that are led by highly effective boards and executive leadership, that are goal oriented, and that consistently deliver strong outcomes. We are particularly interested in supporting initiatives designed to bring about transformative change within our focus areas.

The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation utilizes a flexible assessment process to determine alignment of an organization or initiative with the Foundation’s current funding priorities. These priorities evolve over time to reflect lessons learned from previous grants and new environmental factors. We welcome inquiries from organizations at any time. If you seek to become a grantee, the first step is to determine your eligibility and assess your alignment with the Foundation’s focus areas, as described in our Grant Application Process.

Funding Inquiries

Inquiries provide our staff with information about your organization, program, or project, and overall alignment with the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. Inquiries may be submitted at any time during the year and are reviewed on a continuous basis by Foundation staff. The Foundation’s staff welcomes the opportunity to meet with prospective grantees; however, we often prefer to wait until after receiving an inquiry to determine whether a meeting would be useful for both the requestor and the Foundation. We value your time and our own, and we aim to minimize the time required to submit an inquiry as much as possible.

If you are interested in learning if your organization, program, or project matches the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation’s current funding priorities, you may contact us by telephone, email or brief written letter of inquiry. Please note that the Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. Once an inquiry has been received, Foundation staff may conduct further due diligence, including but not limited to a site visit, follow-up meetings, and program or financial assessment. Following review of your inquiry, Foundation staff will contact you to inform you whether your organization has been invited to submit a proposal. We make every effort to respond to inquiries in a timely fashion.

Focus Areas


A well-educated population is critical to the vitality of Indianapolis and the continued global competitiveness of the United States. Unfortunately, the United States continues to lag behind other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations in literacy, numeracy, science, and critical thinking skills. In Indianapolis, too many students graduate from high school unprepared for college or careers, and employers struggle to identify a sufficient supply of skilled talent to fill available job openings.

The Foundation has established two goals in our Education focus area:

  • To improve academic outcomes for Indianapolis students, from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, by supporting the conditions necessary to grow the supply of high-performing schools and programs.
  • To minimize the workforce skills gap in Indianapolis by supporting the delivery of cost-effective post-secondary education and training programs that align with the demands of America’s knowledge-based economy.

We have identified the following strategies to support these goals:

  • Supporting the design and implementation of highly effective Pre-Kindergarten programs serving low-income children.
  • Strengthening the systemic conditions most likely to result in a K-12 system that provides a robust set of high-performing school options for Indianapolis students and their families. These conditions include effective governance, autonomous schools, transparent accountability for student outcomes, and sufficient resources—particularly facilities and per-pupil funding.
  • Supporting the launch and replication of high-performing, autonomous schools.
  • Attracting, retaining, and developing great talent, particularly school leaders and teachers.
  • Supporting the launch and replication of high-performing, cost-effective, competency-based college and career preparation models aligned with the needs of employers.
  • Communicating what is, and what isn’t, working across stakeholder groups.


Indianapolis ranks near the bottom of almost every measure of public health and healthy living. Two primary root causes of our city’s poor health outcomes are tobacco use and opioid misuse, as evidenced by a smoking rate that is the highest of the nation’s 30 largest cities and the more than 350 drug overdose fatalities that occurred in the city in 2017. Statewide, more than 12,500 people die each year from smoking, including 11,100 smokers and 1,400 nonsmokers, who die from exposure to secondhand smoke. More than 1,700 Hoosiers died of drug overdose in 2017, and the vast majority of these deaths were linked to opioids. The economic impact on Indiana is also devastating. Annually, tobacco use costs Indiana $8.3 billion. In 2017, the opioid epidemic cost the state an additional $4.3 billion.

Good health is a necessary condition for success in life and is integrally linked to the ability of children and adults to thrive in school and in the workplace. Indianapolis cannot reach its full potential while its people experience the debilitating effects of significant public health challenges.

To this end, we have established two primary goals in our Health focus area: to reduce the rate of tobacco use, and to reduce the rate of opioid use disorder, including prescription drug misuse and heroin use.

  • Reducing the Use of Tobacco
    • Tobacco has long been understood to be an underlying cause of cancer and other illnesses. We’ve identified four strategies to help us reach our goal of an overall reduction in tobacco use in Indianapolis:
      • Raising awareness of evidence-based policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
      • Expanding access to evidence-based prevention programs and cessation treatments.
      • Strengthening the infrastructure for tobacco control advocacy.
      • Assessing tobacco control strategies and evaluating effectiveness of programs.
  • The Challenge of Opioid Use Disorder
    • Opioid use disorder presents a different set of challenges and requires its own approach. The three strategies that we have identified to help us reach our goal of reducing the rate of opioid use disorder, including prescription drug misuse and illegal opioid use, are:
      • Raising awareness of the scope of the opioid epidemic and evidence-based policies to prevent and reduce opioid misuse.
      • Expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment and harm reduction programs and initiatives, and supporting pilots for new programs and initiatives.
      • Assessing opioid prevention, treatment and harm reduction strategies and evaluating effectiveness of programs.

Vitality of Indianapolis

The life sciences sector is a major driver of Central Indiana’s economy and is therefore a key contributing factor to the vitality of Indianapolis. While the local life sciences sector is robust, competition is intensifying as other markets strive to attract the investments, companies and talent required for continued growth. Cross-sector collaboration, coordination and alignment are key to ongoing economic prosperity in Indianapolis and elsewhere around the state.

A well-developed talent pipeline – especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields – is integral to a thriving life sciences sector. Yet too many Indiana students enter college unprepared for math and science courses, and many Indiana college graduates in STEM fields leave the state to find employment.

To ensure the continued strength of the local life sciences economy, the Foundation has established the following goal in our Vitality of Indianapolis focus area: to strengthen the life sciences sector in Indianapolis.

To help reach our goal of strengthening the life sciences sector in Indianapolis, we’ve identified the following strategies:

  • Supporting the systemic and operating conditions necessary to sustain and grow a robust life sciences cluster.
  • Attracting, retaining, and developing great life sciences talent across the education and workforce development pipeline, with an emphasis on STEM preparation. We have identified three STEM talent preparation strategies:
    • Raising the quality of STEM teachers in Indianapolis classrooms.
    • Establishing a strong STEM education foundation for students (pre-K through postsecondary).
    • Increasing interest and engagement of students in STEM fields.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • We support organizations that are classified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and as public charities under section 509(a)(1), (2), or (3) of the Code, or to public organizations that are designated under section 170(c) of the Code. 


  • The following is a list of organizations or activities that we do not support, either as a matter of policy or law:
    • Supporting organizations controlled by disqualified persons to the Fairbanks Foundation, or non-functionally integrated Type III supporting organizations (as such terms are defined by the Internal Revenue Service in the Internal Revenue Code). For more information, please visit The Council on Foundations website and search for Supporting Organization or the 2006 Pension Protection Act.
    • Grants, loans, or scholarships for individuals.
    • Most for-profit organizations.
    • Initiatives that do not impact the city of Indianapolis, Indiana.