Supporting rural communities in
Montana, Idaho and Applachian Kentucky.

The Steele-Reese Foundation is a charitable trust committed to supporting rural communities and the tax-exempt entities that serve them in Idaho, Montana, in the Native nations that share the geography, and in Appalachian Kentucky. Since its inception, the Foundation has maintained a focus on the unique challenges of rural living and on helping people build healthy, successful, and sustainable communities.

Eleanor Steele Reese, daughter of Charles Steele – a banker, lawyer, and business associate of J.P. Morgan – created The Steele-Reese Foundation in 1955. The Foundation’s name honors Eleanor’s family as well as the family of her husband, Emmet Reese, who grew up in the Appalachian foothills community of East Bernstadt, KY. The couple found strength and fulfillment in their work as cattle ranchers in Idaho and they created the Foundation as a lasting commitment to their rural values.

In Idaho, Montana, and in the Native nations within these states, the Foundation supports federally tax-exempt entities working in rural education; health; human and social services; the arts and humanities; and land, water, and wildlife conservation and historic preservation.

In Appalachian Kentucky, the Foundation dedicates its support to federally tax-exempt entities benefiting pre-kindergarten and K-12 school-aged children. The Foundation supports early childhood education programs, elementary and secondary schools and public libraries providing programs for children from early childhood through high school.

Applications from organizations operating outside of the Foundation’s regional or program areas are not eligible for funding. At times, the program areas and priorities of the Appalachian Kentucky Grant Program may vary from those of the Idaho and Montana Grant Program. Please check back periodically for the latest updates (at right) about the Foundation’s priorities and application policies.

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Latest Update
2024 Grant Programs


Idaho and Montana Grant Program

The Idaho and Montana Grant Program for work in rural communities begins with an online Letter of Inquiry (LOI). The 2024 LOI process opens on January 15, 2024 and closes once we have received 100 LOIs or on January 31, 2024, whichever occurs first. See the Idaho and Montana Grant Program page for details and download the 2024 Letter of Inquiry Information Packet. This packet also includes details of open question and answer sessions via Zoom. Contact Linda Tracy, Western Director, with any questions related to proposed requests for work in rural Idaho, Montana, or in Native nations with whom we share this geography.

Appalachian Kentucky Grant Program

Grant application forms for the 2024 Appalachian Kentucky program will be available in mid-November 2023.

The Steele-Reese Foundation supports education proposals benefiting pre-kindergarten and K-12 school-aged children for all Appalachian Kentucky counties.

For the 2024 Appalachian Kentucky grant season, Steele-Reese will continue to offer additional focus on schools profoundly affected by extreme flooding in July 2022. Counties declared as disaster areas by Gov. Andy Beshear are: Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Whitley.

Please contact Judy Owens, Appalachian Director, for additional information. The grant application deadline is March 1, 2024.