The Aaaron & Lillie Straus Foundation


The Aaron & Lillie Straus Foundation


The Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation has a very specific philanthropic focus: The protection, enrichment and opportunity for children and at-risk families. The Foundation works in the Baltimore regions and continues to support programs and projects that fulfil the legacy left by Aaron and Lillie Straus, and the devotion they gave to the foundation and to their community in Baltimore.


The Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation operates and is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland.

Operating Region

The Foundation supports programs and organizations in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Both Aaron and Lillie Straus were adamant that the Foundation focus on children in need in Baltimore and their outreach into families and communities within the city.

Foundation Contact Info

2 East Read Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Phone 410-539-8308
Fax 410-837-7711

Supported Causes

The Foundation supports a number of diverse programs that focus on children’s needs. The main causes supported by the Foundation are in providing help to Jewish community services, families, children and youth in the Baltimore region and promoting and building infrastructure in the nonprofit sector in the state of Maryland.

Grants/Award Programs

Jewish Community Services: The Foundations supports programs that work with Jewish families in Baltimore. The Foundation primarily works through larger agencies that are able to ‘re-grant’ funds where they are most needed at any given time. Aaron and Lillie Straus established two camps Camp Louise and Camp Airy during the 1920’s that provide Jewish children the opportunity to connect to and learn about Jewish heritage.

Families, Children and Youth: The Foundation has worked extensively to establish a network of support centers in Maryland where at-risk families may receive help, support and access to better services, including medical, mental health and education. The Straus Foundation supports a number of charter-schools in Baltimore.
Nonprofit Sector Growth: The Straus Foundation donates a portion of all funds towards strengthening and growing the nonprofit sector in Maryland. This includes working with individuals and organizations on fundraising opportunities and promoting strategic philanthropy.

Main Criteria for Funding Projects

Grants are made available to groups that work exclusively in the Baltimore metropolitan region. No individuals may apply for a grant. Grants are awarded three times per year on a rolling basis. The Foundation encourages grantees to make use of local resources in their work.

Funded Organizations / Projects

  • The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore
  • The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
  • Maryland-Israel Development Center: The Straus Foundation donated to MarketReach America, a program funded by the U.S.-Israel -Science and Technology Foundation.
  • Charter Schools: 1997 (Ongoing) The Foundation provided grants and start-up capital and ongoing operating support to New Song -Academy, Crossroads School and Midtown Academy.
  • Advocates for Children and Youth: 1997 – The Foundation made available, start-up capital for the foundation of ACY which helps lobby at a local and state level for better programs for children in Baltimore.
  • Maryland Citizens Health Initiative
  • The Association of Baltimore Grantmakers: Established in 1987 by the Aaron and Lilli Straus Foundation along with four local foundations. Its mission is to promote local philanthropy.
  • Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations: 1991 – Start-up capital provided by the Foundation

Foundation’s History

Founded in 1926 by Aaron and Lillie Straus. Aaron Straus was the founder of Reliable Stores Corporation. Born in 1865, he built the family furniture store into one of America’s largest retail groups. The company was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1936. Aaron and Lillie Straus had no children and the Aaron & Lillie Straus Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors composed of descendants of the Directors of the Reliable Stores Corporation.