James S. Bower Foundation



Santa Barbara

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $2,992,640
Expenses: $4,161,071
Assets: $91,586,664


Private Foundation


Jon Clark

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $11,708,383
Expenses: $4,237,860
Assets: $91,522,127

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The James S. Bower Foundation is a left-of-center private grantmaking foundation located in Santa Barbara, California that funds a variety of organizations in the Santa Barbara area as well as national organizations on projects concerning environmentalism and “voter mobilization.” The foundation was formed in 1989 and historically focused on funding groups in categories including “educational, scientific, religious, and charitable activities.” The organization’s giving focuses on organizations for youth, infants, and the elderly, as well as environmental groups and other community organizations. In 2020, the organization announced an additional focus on “democracy” related giving and has funded organizations including the Voter Registration Project and the Voter Participation Center. 1 2 3


The James S. Bower Foundation was founded in 1989 and was named for James S. “Jim” Bower, a World War II veteran who settled in Santa Barbara, California. The foundation’s biography of Bower does not make much reference to Bower’s career or how he funded the organization. It does note that Bower “was a registered Republican who never failed to vote Democrat” and alludes to him working in real estate development, donating the land that became the West Campus of Santa Barbara City College. 4

The foundation funds a variety of organizations with a heavy focus on the Santa Barbara area. The foundation operates giving projects centered on “early years” for children and infants as well as “later years” for the elderly. 5 6


The James S Bower Foundation announced that starting in “2020, we anticipate increasing our investment in two critical areas, climate change and the conservation of the Gaviota Coast.” The foundation also announced that its environmental grants would “[a]cknowledge the link between climate change and social justice and work to make progress in both” and consider opportunities to fund national environmental groups. 7

Voter Mobilization

The James S Bower Foundation in 2020 also stated that it would begin giving to left-of-center voter mobilization groups outside the Santa Barbara area, stating “We recognized that there are some issues that transcend the geographic boundary we use to define Community, and the health of our democracy is one of those. We made several grants to organizations working nationwide to support voter mobilization. We anticipate continuing this in 2022 and beyond.” 8


Grantees of the James S. Bower Foundation include the Fund for Santa Barbara, Leading from Within, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, UC Santa Barbara Foundation, the Voter Participation Center, Voter Registration Project, Working America Education Fund, Direct Relief International, World Telehealth Initiative, AHA! Attitude Harmony and Achievement, Carpinteria Children’s Project, Freedom4Youth, Future Leaders of America, Inc., Gateway Educational Services, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, Isla Vista Youth Project, Lompoc Teen Center, Yes I Can/Si Se Puede, Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara, Integrated Care Clinic Serving Youth, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, Santa Barbara Alternatives to Violence, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Foundation, Wilderness Youth Project, Community Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Center, Gaviota Coast Conservancy, Natural Capitalism Solutions, the Nature Conservancy, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the Land Trust for S.B. County, White Buffalo Land Trust, and the Dream Foundation. 9 10


  1. “Funding Areas.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  2. “Funding Areas.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  3. “Community Priorities.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  4. [1]“James Selleck Bower.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  5. “Early Years.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  6. “Later Years.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  7. “Environment.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  8. “Community Priorities.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  9. “IRS Form 990.” James S Bower Foundation. 2020.
  10. “Grants.” James S. Bower Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2023.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1989

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form PF $2,992,640 $4,161,071 $91,586,664 $64,537 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2019 Dec Form PF $3,490,234 $3,680,915 $71,269,781 $51,532 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2015 Dec Form PF $2,713,125 $2,845,900 $65,133,614 $31,216 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $2,498,335 $2,675,556 $59,238,214 $183,465 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $2,284,553 $3,179,999 $59,888,183 $230,213 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $2,077,860 $3,262,408 $56,194,325 $38,352 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $-2,996,833 $3,567,530 $53,157,428 $12,826 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    James S. Bower Foundation

    Santa Barbara,