John H. & Cynthia Lee Smet Foundation

  • CA


Los Angeles Area
Los Angeles Area
United States

About Us

The John H. and Cynthia Lee Smet Foundation

When John and Cynthia Lee Smet established their family foundation in 1992, its goals reflected the Smets’ broad interests in a variety of charitable causes: religious, scientific, literary, and educational. More recently, the Foundation has focused primarily on education, in large part because the Smets recognize and appreciate the many ways that education shaped their lives at work, at home, and in the community. With that in mind, they aim to give the gift of an excellent education to as many young Angelinos as they can.

Catholic education, which offers a balance of academic rigor and Christian values in nurturing school environments, has been an area of special interest for The Smet Foundation. It currently works closely with the Catholic Education Foundation of the Los Angeles Archdiocese (CEF), and St. Matthias School in Downey, California. The Foundation supports the tuition assistance program of the CEF which provides scholarships to over 8,000 children in K-12 Archdiocesan schools annually. In 2009, the Smet Foundation started the Victorian Leadership Scholarship to support exceptional young women at St. Matthias High School. The first two Victorians graduated in June 2013. 

The transition of St. Matthias to the co-educational St. Pius X- St. Matthias Academy (PMA) in school year 2013-14 presented an opportunity to expand the scope of the Victorian Leadership Scholarship.  The program became known as The Onward Scholars Program and is open to both boys and girls at St. Pius X – Matthias Academy. There are currently 48 Onward Scholars at PMA. In addition to merit-based scholarships, the program provides a dedicated counselor to assist Onward Scholars with tutoring, test prep, college planning and enrichment activities.

The Smet Foundation is proud to expand the Onward Scholars Program to St. Mary’s Academy, an all-female Catholic private college preparatory high school in Inglewood. The school was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1889 and is the oldest continuously operating Catholic high school in Los Angeles.  Students at SMA can enroll in one of the four career pathways: Health Careers, Engineering, the Arts, or Business. Over 95% of SMA students receive financial assistance and 100% of SMA students are accepted to college.  The first class of Onward Scholars will matriculate at SMA in August 2018. 

The John H. and Cynthia Lee Smet Foundation supports a number of other educational initiatives and organizations in the region, including Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles, The California Science Center, The Natural History Museum and Vistamar School in El Segundo.

The Foundation regretfully cannot consider unsolicited proposals, preferring instead to initiate projects at a small number of organizations over a sustained period of time in order to effect meaningful change.