Samuel S. Fels Fund
The Samuel S. Fels Fund is a private independent foundation founded in 1935 by Samuel S. Fels, a Philadelphia philanthropist who made his money in the manufacture of Fels Naptha, a popular household soap. Historically the Fund has granted approximately $1.5 million with grants in the categories of Arts and Humanities, and Education and Community Programs, all in the City of Philadelphia. The Fund also runs an annual program, the Fels Internships in Community Service, through which it awards grants to Philadelphia nonprofits to support internships for graduate students during the summer. In 2014, the Fels Fund made over one hundred and fifty individual payments encompassing all three giving areas.
The Fels Fund’s grantmaking priorities have historically included projects that improve the lives of the least fortunate in Philadelphia, and have been dispersed to nonprofits facing “critical junctures” – organizational crossroads related to expansion, experimentation, reorganization or an enhanced need for advocacy. A particular focus has often been on small non-profits and grassroots organizations with attention to the needs of a great diversity of recipients. The Fund’s rolling application deadline supports this approach, enabling it to be flexible and time-sensitive to grantee needs; a grant from the Fels Fund is frequently considered a “stamp of approval” that may draw the attention and respect of other funders. The Fund is also distinguished by its nonmonetary support for grantees and others in the community; it often fulfills this role as a convener, and by encouraging stakeholders to work together to solve Philadelphia’s most pressing problems.