Ray Solem Foundation



The Ray Solem Foundation was created to carry out the directions stated by Richard Ray Solem (known to family and friends as Ray) before his death on January 4, 2006. He wrote, "I have always been driven by an internal sense of purpose - a belief that service to mankind should take precedence over personal comfort, status or accumulation of assets." Ray wanted the bulk of his estate to support finding creative ways to help low-income immigrants advance within the United States of America and become productive citizens, a goal furthered through his charitable foundation. An entrepreneur in his own right, Ray took a personal interest in the challenges faced by immigrants. Moreover, he excelled in thinking "outside the box" and strived to find unusual and effective methods that overcame obstacles to achieving goals.

The foundation provides grants to organizations throughout the United States that very creatively help immigrants in the United States become productive and valued members of society. Current priority for funding will be given to organizations focused on immigrants that help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence and/or unaccompanied immigrant youth.

Grants are made for two (2) years. The first payout is at the time when awards are decided and the second is no sooner than the following January. Although award decisions are for two years, awardees must submit a one-page report describing how they spent the first half of their award before receiving the second half of it. Applicants may re-apply in each new funding cycle. Priority is given to applicants with incomes under $1 million. The maximum grant award is $20,000.

The Ray Solem Foundation will not consider grants to the following types of organizations or for the following purposes:

  • Individuals;
  • Operational deficits;
  • Religious organizations for explicit religious activities, as distinguished from social or educational activities;
  • Partisan activities;
  • Fraternal organizations, labor, societies, or other;
  • National fund-raising efforts;
  • 501(c)(4) organizations or lobbying activities;
  • Organizations whose overhead percentage is more than 20% of total expenses;
  • Brand-new projects that have not yet been piloted;

The next application due date is April 26, 2024.

Applications must be submitted by e-mail to memerson@raysolemfund.org. Mailed applications, either paper or thumb drive, are not accepted. Requests must be in 12-point font, 1-inch margins, single- or double-spaced, PDF format. Please do not use doc, docx, xls, xlsx or rtf format. Please start each file name with the same seven letters and do not use Ray Solem Foundation or its abbreviations in the file names. No more than 15% of direct costs may be requested for indirect costs. Total submission should not exceed five (5) pages, not including the project budget and supplementary information such as brochures or annual reports. The budget narrative is included in the 5-page limit.

Each application must include the following:

  • Executive summary (250 words or less) that states the problem your project addresses and the amount of funding requested.
  • Organization background, mission, record of achievement, and connection to RSF priority areas of focus.
  • Project description including goals, objectives. Description must include a paragraph that starts "Our project or organization is innovative because . . ." followed by a description of what makes it especially creative. Advice: Because many organizations say their innovativeness is due to their holistic nature, a strong application will describe other attributes or will give details on what is uniquely effective.
  • Implementation plan including intended impact.
  • Expected outcomes and evaluation plan including how you plan to measure the success of the project.
  • Project budget narrative. Include matching funds if applicable.

Revised July 2023



This is Ray's autobiography, called Tracks (a pdf), describing his early years and his professional life. He wrote it for his children in 1999, seven years before his death.


Past Winners

Washington monument

These are links to web sites of public schools and non-profit organizations that have received awards from the Ray Solem Foundation for their innovative approaches to helping immigrants. (links worked on July 28, 2023)


You can contact Marianne Emerson, the president of the Ray Solem Foundation, at memerson@raysolemfund.org or 202-486-4143.