Our Program Areas

The Sills Family Foundation’s primary grants program intends to help children from low income families live up to their highest promise by concentrating on the following four areas:

Comprehensive Services to Families in Crisis

With a special focus on families impacted by incarceration

The number of women prisoners has skyrocketed by nearly 50 percent since 1990. Most have young children. Overwhelmingly, mothers are convicted of non-violent, drug-related crimes and often have histories of untreated addiction and abuse. When forcibly separated from their children, the trauma extends to another generation. Children with incarcerated mothers may be stigmatized, experience emotional problems and face deeper poverty and trouble in school. Visiting their mothers is difficult when they’re imprisoned far from home. And for children placed in foster care, incarcerated mothers risk losing parental rights altogether.

We believe that strong family relationships help incarcerated mothers return as stable members of their communities. We aim to strengthen these mother-child bonds through improving visiting programs, providing parenting classes and offering emotional and concrete services to mothers and children during and after incarceration. We also support programs for homeless and at-risk families, for women and children in domestic abuse shelters and for families working to avert foster care.

Support to High Need Communities

Through improved access to early education and reduction of neighborhood violence

Low income neighborhoods and schools experience a disproportionate amount of school suspensions, violence, arrests and damage to the community through involvement in the criminal justice system. We support programs that seek to intervene in this damaging cycle.

Early education can make a world of difference in how a child goes on to succeed in school, work and life. This is especially true for children challenged by poverty, homelessness and mental health issues. Children who start kindergarten behind their peers may continue to face problems throughout school. Getting kids off to a good start is critical to their future.

We are committed to high-quality early education that helps children live up to their highest potential. We want to improve chances for disadvantaged children to succeed in life through access to education, early intervention and family supports such as mental health counseling and job skills classes for their mothers.

Environmental Justice

With a focus on contaminents that harm the developing embryo, fetus and infant

Toxic chemicals are released into our environment every day. Children consume pollutants in their food, air and water, their toys, candy, even baby bottles. These hazards can cause serious health problems, ranging from asthma and cancer to brain impairment and behavioral problems. They take a greater toll on the most vulnerable: pregnant women, fetuses and children.

We want to protect families from lead, mercury and other toxic compounds. We support groups that advocate against poor communities carrying a greater share of the toxic burden. And we invest in programs that work to reduce pollutants in our air, water, food and homes so that the minds and bodies of our infants and children stay healthy and strong.

Arts and Culture

That utilize education and other creative opportunities to support underserved populations

Many low income communities lack good quality arts programs. Arts and cultural activity can provide people of all ages important tools of self expression, can open paths to new forms of communication, can build self esteem. We believe that meaningful, culturally competent arts programming in schools, community centers and senior centers can be a powerful tool of social justice.

  • See other Arts and Culture grantees.