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Although the Garcia Family Foundation (GFF) is a quiet funder, it has been giving away millions of dollars each year to support Arizona organizations. The foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of Ernest “Ernie” Garcia II, who has been a stockbroker, real estate developer, DriveTime Automotive executive and Carvana shareholder.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see Garcia (born in 1957) become more involved in philanthropy as he approaches retirement. His son, Ernest Garcia III, who is a Stanford graduate, the winner of an Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year award and a Phoenix resident, has expressed philanthropic interests as well.

Here is some information about how GFF operates and gives locally in Arizona.

Focus areas are youth, health and human services

GFF commonly supports nonprofits that serve young people, especially children who are sick or unable to afford higher education. Other interests include homelessness, K-12 education and disease research. The Barrow Neurological Foundation and Mary’s Food Bank Alliance are examples of past grantees. Recently, Empower College Prep, the Arizona Peace Officers Memorial, Special Olympics Arizona and Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation also received GFF grants.

Many grants support Arizona universities

Ernest Garcia II attended the University of Arizona, and many of his foundation’s grants go toward programs there. For example, GFF awarded a large grant to the University of Arizona Foundation to support PANDA, an organization that works to improve treatments for childhood diseases. GFF also contributes to the Arizona State University Foundation for a general scholarship foundation. GFF recently partnered with the Arizona Commerce Authority to award a multi-year, $300,000 educational endowment to fund an Amazon Web Services Student Certification Scholarship Fund that helps disadvantaged students in the state.

Open to unsolicited requests

Unlike most other low-profile grantmakers with no website, GFF is an accessible foundation that accepts unsolicited grant applications. Nonprofits in Arizona should contact the foundation president, Jon Ehlinger, via mail at the foundation’s Tempe address or by email. There are no specific forms to fill out, so grantseekers should simply provide basic information in writing about their organizations and funding needs. There are also no submission deadlines or restrictions or limitations on awards.

You can read about the Garcia Family Foundation and other Arizona-focused funders in IP’s Southwest funding guide.

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