Mertz Gilmore Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $16,938,276
Expenses: $11,428,853
Assets: $103,411,203



Tax-exempt in 1963


Private Grantmaking Foundation


Harold, LuEsther, and Joyce Mertz


Jay Beckner

Board Chair:

Mikki Shepard

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The Mertz Gilmore Foundation is a New York-based grantmaking organization that focuses primarily on environmentalism and New York City community and cultural activities. Publishers Clearing House founder Harold Mertz,1 his wife LuEsther, and their daughter Joyce Mertz established the foundation in 1959. 2

The group is critical of social policy in the United States, particularly in the area of immigrant rights and LGBT interests.


The Mertz Gilmore Foundation is a left-leaning grantmaking foundation focusing on the arts and environment primarily in New York City, established in 1959 by Harold and LuEsther Mertz and their daughter, Joyce Mertz. The Mertz family founded Publishers Clearing House. 3

Originally called the Mertz Foundation, the name change came after Joyce Mertz married left-wing activist Robert Wallace Gilmore in 1964. The couple worked with civil rights advocate Bayard Rustin during the 1960s and targeted grants toward civil rights issues and anti-Vietnam War causes, primarily in New York City. The foundation became interested in environmental issues, which expanded the scope of its giving to national and global environmental organizations. 4

Aside from the foundation, Robert Wallace Gilmore was a practicing Quaker and a peace and civil rights activist involved in a number of Cold War-era disarmament and anti-Vietnam War organizations. 5

After Joyce Mertz Gilmore’s death in 1974, her will established an endowment for the foundation. Wallace Gilmore renamed the organization to the Joyce Mertz Gilmore Foundation in her honor. He expanded the organization and its board beyond family members into a larger organization until his death in 1988. In 2002, the board renamed the foundation Mertz Gilmore Foundation. 6

By the early 2000s, the foundation was issuing grants in multiple different categories. It has since scaled back. The scrapped categories were international human rights, an energy program, immigrant rights in the United States; lesbian and gay rights in the United States, New York City program, and broadly the issue of Israel and Palestine. 7

Today, the foundation’s grant focuses are New York communities, New York dance, climate change solutions, and democratic values. 8

Mikki Shepard is the chairwoman of the board for the organization. The president of the organization is Jay Beckner.

Environmental Funding

In June 2012, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation was one of the primary funders behind the Workshop on Climate Accountability, Public Opinion and Legal Strategies that led to Democratic state attorneys general and other environmental groups suing individuals, nonprofits and companies that questioned man-made climate change. Other leading donors bankrolling the litigation effort included the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the Grantham Foundation for Protection of the Environment, and the Martin Johnson House at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. 9

The organization’s climate change grants focus on three areas: finding alternatives to coal-fired power plants, climate polices for New York City, and finding new constituencies and approaches for fighting climate change. Cities account for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, so the organization wants to make New York a model for the rest of the world. 10

New York City Funding

The foundation gives to left-of-center community organizations in New York that advocate for affordable housing, immigrant rights, environmental justice, and community development. The organization also contributes heavily to dance, with a focus on artists and audiences through creative performance opportunities. 11

U.S. Human Rights Program

The foundation seeks adoption of international standards. The Mertz Gilmore Foundation also established a Human Rights in the U.S. program to promote social change in the United States. The organization notes the U.S. government has had a “historical antipathy” toward applying international human rights standards inside the United States. The organization offers grants to nonprofits seeking to promote education to more Americans along these lines. 12


  1. Lammle, Rob. “You May Already Be a Winner! The Story of Publishers Clearing House.” Mental Floss. June 21, 2012. Accessed April 09, 2019.
  2. History, Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  3. History, Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  4. History, Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  5. Cook, Joan. “Robert W. Gilmore is Dead at 67, Active in Rights and Peace Groups.” The New York Times. June 15, 1988. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  6. History, Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  7. 2002 Grant List. Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  8. Program Areas. Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  9. Mooney, Kevin. “The California Gathering That Hatched a Plan to Prosecute Skeptics of Climate Change.” The Daily Signal. December 28, 2016. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  10. Climate Change Solutions. Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  11. New York Communities. Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Accessed April 7, 2019.
  12. Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Society for Nonprofits. Accessed April 7, 2019.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1963

  • 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
    2015 Dec Form PF $16,938,276 $11,428,853 $103,411,203 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $16,041,294 $10,516,202 $98,002,697 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $10,438,072 $8,548,950 $92,467,638 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $9,777,640 $8,002,861 $90,390,181 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $8,405,486 $8,332,952 $88,620,965 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Mertz Gilmore Foundation

    218 E 18TH ST
    NEW YORK, NY 10003-3605