Our priorities

The Straus Foundation has identified the following program areas to serve as a blueprint for our grantmaking. However, we acknowledge that there will be many intersections between all four areas.
Children Swimming

Jewish Community Services

The Straus Foundation has deep Jewish roots, and supporting Jewish families will always be a priority. Jewish values, particularly the value of social justice, inform all of our grantmaking. The Foundation’s grantees in this priority area are Camps Airy & Louise, a boys and a girl’s camp in Western Maryland for Jewish children. The camps were started by Aaron and Lillie Straus to provide the values and development of a camping experience to Jewish children from Baltimore and the surrounding area, regardless of their economic background.  Today, the camps continue this tradition by providing opportunities for self-growth, life skills, life-long friendships, an appreciation for the natural world, and an affirmation of Jewish identity.



Immigration Advocacy and Services

For close to 100 years, Aaron and Lillie Straus devoted time, resources, and a strategic vision for the health and resettlement of waves of immigrants coming into Baltimore. The understanding was that new Americans would thrive both personally and professionally, with great benefit to the city. 

While this same premise holds true today, with 50,000 foreign-born immigrants living in Baltimore City, immigration policy must be urgently addressed while ensuring legal and social services are delivered upon their arrival.


Boy on bicycle

Access to Quality Health / Mental Health Services

While structural racism, violence and persistent underinvestment in communities have led to many in Baltimore experiencing significant trauma, the people of this city also have immense strength and resilience. With that knowledge, the Foundation strives to connect children and families to early detection and prevention as a strategy to decrease the use of emergency room and other services on the most expensive side of the health delivery system and to make readily available the full array of family planning services. We look to fund opportunities that create culturally competent, community-based access to health services as well as advocacy efforts around rights and reimbursement.


Raw Honey Jar

Social Innovation, Leadership and Entrepre­neurship

For the last decade, The Straus Foundation has focused on the intersection of social innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship for the purpose of catalyzing the unique assets and talents of the city of Baltimore. In a short period of time, Baltimore has created a growing ecosystem that attracts and celebrates new leaders seeking more effective, efficient, and sustainable solutions to strengthen the city. We seek to equitably support promising entrepreneurs and their ideas in order to democratize opportunity, provide capital, support technical assistance, and create a new vibrancy in our city.


Alternative Grantmaking

In addition to making grants in its five program areas, The Straus Foundation will, from time to time, make allocations in the following ways:
  • Foundation-Driven Initiatives: Specifics Requests for Proposal will be issued for these initiatives, and grants will be made through a competitive process;
  • Funding Collaboratives: Straus Foundation dollars will be pooled with other private and public resources for a specific programmatic purpose. The collaborative will then make grants through a competitive Request for Proposal process;
  • Loans: The Foundation will occasionally make a loan instead of a grant to an organization for a specific project or programmatic interest. The Foundation does not make loans to individuals or organizations for emergency needs; and
  • Program-Related Investments: The Foundation will, on occasion, invest a portion of its corpus for the purpose of meeting a programmatic need as well as receiving a market-rate return on its investment.