Robert Sterling Clark Foundation

At the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, we’re dedicated to helping create a stronger, healthier New York City—a city as just as it is vibrant. Our work toward that goal is grounded in a core set of values. They serve as critical guideposts in everything we do, reflecting who we are and what we believe in.


We value:

  • Equity:  A vision of an equitable New York City is at the heart of all our work.  And we seek to do this through all of our activities: grantmaking, programmatic initiatives, operating practices internally and externally.

  • Trust:  We thrive on relationships grounded in mutual trust and respect, and seek to imbue those traits into every interaction—whether it is with a grantee partner, an individual leader, a funder, a collaborator or an ally.  

  • Humility:  Our commitment to humility reflects our belief that our grantee partners are the mission-driven, field-expert professionals. They know best how to spend the grant awards, invest in themselves, and measure success, so we empower them to be good stewards of the resources.

  • Boldness:  Change doesn’t come from ‘philanthropy as usual’. We want to take smart risks in the interest of reaping significant rewards. Complex challenges require fresh approaches.  Not all will succeed, and even those that do may take time, but each will represent an important step in affecting growth and progress.

  • Clarity: We are clear in our focus, investing in the potential and capacity of leaders to drive and make change. Clarity requires good communication and transparency, and so we strive to be open and accessible to all stakeholders.

Trust-Based Philanthropy

More than a check writer—a collaborator. At the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation we proudly support a philosophy of trust-based philanthropy, and seek to apply that philosophy to our relationship with every grantee partner.

Sometimes referred to as grantee-centric philanthropy, the concept of trust-based philanthropy is simple but powerful: empower the grant recipient to use its staff’s time and talents on mission-focused work, not grants management paperwork.

While due diligence and project reporting are certainly important to us as funders, we view it as our responsibility to take the lead in learning what we need to know about the organizations we support. We believe that application and reporting processes can be significantly streamlined from the norm. For that reason, we request that grant applicants submit an application to us that they have already submitted elsewhere. Our goal is to get a view of your work through the lens of that application. If we need more information, we will be proactive in obtaining it.

We also firmly believe that our grant recipients are best equipped—better than we are—to make decisions about how their grant awards should be spent. You are the mission-driven, field-expert professionals. So we most often provide unrestricted grants for general operating support, along with professional development awards for staff. Our grants are usually multi-year in duration, allowing organizations time and space to invest our grants wisely and make long-term decisions.

We believe in partnership in the truest sense of the word, open and transparent. Our doors are open to our grantees -- or even better, we will come to you. We want to help you through challenges, celebrate your successes, and connect you with helpful resources. We’re here to ideate, not dictate.