The Rita Allen Foundation is a New Jersey-based private grantmaking foundation. The foundation supports left-of-center civic engagement efforts. The foundation also supports the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program which funds scholars in the sciences. It also funds a young leaders in science program.
The foundation saw a massive infusion of resources in 2008 with the sale of a Park Avenue apartment and everything inside it in New York City. After the sale, the foundation expanded its focus from science education to include civic engagement.
The foundation is best known for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program which supports those in the science field. It also well known for its grants towards scientific endeavors.
But in recent years it has increased its grants towards civic engagement, often funding left-of-center organizations. The civic engagement funding arose in response to alleged “weakening of traditional and investigative press coverage, the influence of money in politics, and the perception that voting doesn’t matter.” It particularly steers funds towards media projects and new technologies that engage voters. 
Civic Engagement Grants
Elizabeth Good Christopherson is the president and chief executive officer of the foundation. She has been serving in that role since 2009. Previously, she was the executive director of New Jersey’s public broadcasting network and served on the board of PBS. She also served as the president of the New Jersey Women’s Forum. 
The foundation has a board of directors that is chaired by investment advisor William Gadsden. Former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean (R) and former editor of the Des Moines Register and Washington Post columnist Geneva Overholser also serve on the board. 
The Rita Allen Foundation was founded in 1953 by Broadway producer Rita Allen Cassel. Her father was a physician and while she was alive, most of her giving was used to advance science and medicine. Rita Allen Cassel would die in the late 1960s. 
In 1976, the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program would be established. The program would award scientists up to $110,000 in order to conduct medical research. 
Her husband, Milton Cassel, would administer the foundation in her memory until he died in 2004. Cassel’s second wife, Lucette, would survive him for three years and die in 2007. There were no natural heirs and the entire estate was passed on to the foundation. 
In 2008, the Cassel’s Park Avenue apartment was sold. The apartment contained a world-class connection of impressionist art that was sold in London. The assets of the foundation jumped from $20 million to $140 million. 
After 2008, the foundation began to focus on more than scientific and medical research. It began to fund civic engagement projects and community building endeavors. 
According to the 2015 Form 990, the foundation made $2.3 million in investment revenue and spent $9.1 million. It had assets of over $152 million.
Among the grants made in the year were $200,000 to the Center for Public Integrity, $250,000 to Climate Central, $15,000 to Earthjustice, $50,000 to ProPublica, $250,000 to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, $100,000 to the Sunlight Foundation, and $5,000 to The Nature Conservancy.