Samuel S. Fels Fund


The Samuel S. Fels Fund was founded in 1935 by Samuel S. Fels, a Philadelphia philanthropist who made his money in the manufacture of Fels Naptha, a popular household soap. We are a private independent foundation with broad interests in community programs, education and the arts.

According to our charter, we seek to support projects “which prevent, lessen or resolve contemporary social problems”, or which seek to provide permanent improvements “in human daily life”.

Our grants are restricted to organizations located in the City of Philadelphia or focused on local issues.


The Samuel S. Fels Fund was incorporated as a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation on December 17, 1935. The Charter was accepted and the foundation’s work begun at the organizational meeting on January 27, 1936.

The Fund’s founder was Samuel S. Fels, Philadelphia philanthropist and civic leader who was president of Fels & Company, manufacturer of Fels Naptha, a vastly popular household soap. Sam Fels was born in Yanceyville, North Carolina in 1860 and died in Philadelphia on June 23, 1950.

The general purpose of the Fund, as stated in the Charter, is “to initiate and to assist any activities or projects of a scientific, educational or charitable nature which tend to improve human daily life and to bring to the average person greater health, happiness, and a fuller understanding of the meaning and purposes of life.”

To this end, the Fund makes grants in the categories of Arts and Humanities, Education, and Community Programs, all in the city of Philadelphia. The ideal proposal to Fels is one that addresses positive social change. We also mean to be useful to organizations at points of particular need such as expansion, experimentation, or reorganization or in times of particular need for advocacy. The Fund is unable to make grants to individuals and accepts proposals only from organizations which are designated tax-exempt (501-c-3) by the Internal Revenue Service. The Fund does not make grants for conferences, scholarships, fellowships or travel. Ordinarily, the Fund also avoids making grants for major programs of large institutions, capital and equipment, endowment, and the routine or direct services of social service agencies. Individual day care and after school care programs and computer centers cannot be accommodated, although agencies that serve these fields may apply.

Community and Education applications are accepted at any time. Organizations that have been funded must submit a complete final report before reapplying. Organizations that have been declined must wait at least one year before submitting another proposal. Guidelines for applicants, with proposal requirements and cover sheet, are available on the Application and Guidelines page or by calling (215) 731-9455.