Kirschner Trusts

Kirschner Trusts
Grant application opens:Monday, September 4, 2023
Deadline to request application access:Friday, October 20, 2023, at 5:00 pm
Grant Application Deadline:Friday, October 27, 2023, at 5:00 pm


The son of a Polish immigrant, Phil Kirschner moved to Muskogee in 1905, the same year oil was discovered in Oklahoma. After spending much of his young life helping his family run their mercantile business, he decided to pursue his own business ventures. By the age of 22, Phil had drilled his first well and, in the 1950s, he opened the North Glenpool field.

Louisiana native, Roberta Landwirth moved to the Indian Territory of Fort Gibson with her family in the early 1900s where her father set up shop as a merchant. Roberta left the area after high school to attend college in Missouri but eventually returned to Muskogee in 1937.

Roberta and Phil married in 1954 and, together, the couple became quiet philanthropists, focusing much of their charitable giving on nonprofit organizations in and around the Muskogee area. After Phil’s death in 1981, five charitable trusts were established to ensure their legacy would live on. After Roberta’s death in 1985, her daughter, Miriam Freedman, continued administering the trusts.

In 2013, after overseeing the family’s foundation for more than 30 years, Miriam transferred the Kirschner Trusts to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Today, the Kirschner Trusts award grants to charitable organizations that support causes important to the family. Funding areas include:

  1. Jewish Education, Culture & Heritage
  2. Educational & Vocational Opportunities for Children & Young Adults with Disabilities
  3. Eastern Oklahoma Charitable Organizations

The Kirschner Trusts also provide scholarship support to students, ages 25 and under, who have been orphaned or are living in foster care or a residential facility through the Oklahoma Youth with Promise Scholarship program.


Questions & Clarifications

You are welcome to address questions or concerns by emailing kirschner@occf.org or by contacting Leslie Woodward at L.woodward@occf.org or (405) 606-2911.

Recent Awards

Fall 2022 – Spring 2023

1) Eastern Oklahoma Charitable Organizations
Organizationlocationprogram detailsamount
Branch15BethanyBranch15 aims to address trauma within women coming out of difficult life situations such as human trafficking, domestic violence, chemical dependency and justice involvement. Funds will be used to meet the needs of women in Eastern OK, including transportation to and from jobs, onsite training on basic skills required to maintain healthy households and lifestyles, parenting skills education and trauma counseling.$10,000
Eastern Oklahoma Library SystemMuskogeeThe library works with schools and education consortiums in the community that serve high-risk children and families. It provides early and school-age literacy and educational programs to these sites as well as at community events, offers story-times and book giveaways, and provides literacy education for parents, caregivers and guardians.  $3,000
Education Foundation of MuskogeeMuskogeeThe foundation provides grants for classroom teachers to pursue engaging and enriching curricula for students. This year, it will fund “Reach for the Stars”; a hands-on science project that explores the orbits of the Earth and moon, the rotation of planets, gravitational pull, tides, etc. $2,000
Gospel Rescue MissionMuskogeeGRM is a poverty reduction center that serves individuals experiencing hunger, homelessness, and hopelessness. The Mission offers 3 meals a day, a safe shelter and individualized programming aimed to free people from addiction and help them find employment, pay their own rent or buy their own homes, etc. $15,000
Indian Capital Technology Center Foundation, Inc.MuskogeeICTC will use funds to provide scholarships and tuition assistance to ICTC students. Past scholarship recipients were enrolled in the following programs: Auto Collision Repair,  Business Management & Administration, Culinary Arts, Construction Technology, Graphic Arts, Lodging & Management, HVAC, IT, Practical Nursing, Radiology Technology,Welding, etc.$5,000
Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy & Neuro-Muscular Foundation, Inc. (hereinafter, KBT)MuskogeeKBT provides private physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy services to children ages newborn to 21 years affected by Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, neuromuscular disorders, and any other condition(s) that affect a child’s ability to control movement and perform daily functions. $35,000
MCM Food Pantry Incorporated, dba Muskogee Community Food Pantry MuskogeeMCM serves the area’s poor, homeless, disabled, children, unemployed and elderly people who need emergency food supplies. These individuals receive 3-5 days of perishable and non-perishable foods. In cooperation with Oklahoma State University’s Extension Service, MCM provides “Veggie Bucks” which can be redeemed for items available at the local Farmers’ Market. They also distribute feminine hygiene products on behalf of Soroptimist International. MCM serves 7,000 to 10,000 individuals.$15,000
Muskogee Community Band AssociationMuskogeeMCBA provides instruments to low-income students (grades 6-8) at Muskogee Public Schools. Nearly 30% of Muskogee Public School students live in poverty and cannot afford instruments to develop their musical talents. Loaned instruments far exceed the ability of the school district to provide them. The instruments program allows students to participate in band and realize the life-long benefits of music education and performance.$10,000
Muskogee County Child Advocacy Center INCMuskogeeThe main goal of the project is to ensure that victims receive trauma-informed services throughout their case, starting with the investigation, and to increase the likelihood that offenders will be held accountable. This is accomplished through holistic trauma-informed services to child abuse victims and their non-offending caregivers, as well as by providing our multidisciplinary team of professionals who respond to these cases with the necessary training and technology to do their jobs. $20,000
Muskogee Little Theater, Inc.MuskogeeMLT provides accessible programming via free performances to area schools and to area at-risk youth and underserved groups such as Project Transformation, Youth Volunteer Corp students, the Martin Luther King after-school program, and the Oklahoma School for the Blind. MLT will use funds to support its upcoming production of Peter Pan. The production will include 40-50 adult and youth cast members and 80-100 volunteers and will be seen by approx. 2500 community members.$5,000
Neighbors Building Neighborhoods of Muskogee, Inc.MuskogeeNBN’s mission is to improve the quality of life in eastern OK through education, organizational support, and coalition building. The organization provides low-income and minority students with high-quality, low-cost programming. Funds will be used to support the Dream Team After School, Summer Learning, and Night Hoops programs, which provide academic support and mentorship for at-risk youth in Muskogee. $20,000
Northeastern State University Foundation, Inc.  TahlequahRecognizing the need to serve students who do not have the benefit of a two-parent home, the trustees of the E. Phil & Roberta Kirschner Trust set up a scholarship endowment at NSU in 1994, funded by an initial sum of $11,250.  Over the years, the Kirschner Trust made regular donations.  After the transition to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, NSU received $10,000 each year from 2013-2022. Funds will be used to continue building the endowment and the number of students who receive the scholarship. $10,000
Oklahoma Project Woman, Inc.TulsaOPW provides access to free breast healthcare for Oklahomans that have no other way to access preventative and/or diagnostic breast healthcare. OPW has agreements with two clinics (Arkansas-Verdigris Valley Muskogee Health Center and Warner Health & Wellness) and two hospitals (Landmark3D Breast Center and Saint Francis Hospital Muskogee East) in Muskogee County. The patient receives a clinical breast exam at the clinic and is then issued a “coupon” to use at any participating hospital/breast center for a free mammogram and any other breast health care that might be necessary. If a patient has abnormal findings, the patient navigators in the OPW office immediately facilitate a care coordination plan between the clinic, the breast center, the surgeon performing the biopsy and the patient.$10,000
Special Olympics Oklahoma IncTulsaAll Special Olympics athletes can participate in local competitions in one of the fourteen geographic regions within OK. Each region is run by an Area Management Team consisting of 5–10 volunteers who coordinate local events year-round. Funds will be used to support the Cherokee Country Area which services individuals with intellectual disabilities in Muskogee and Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Muskogee, Wagoner, Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah, Haskell, and McIntosh counties.$2,500
Tulsa Boys’ HomeTulsaThe Boys’ Home provides residential care for young boys needing placement outside their homes, for the purpose of developing well-adjusted, responsible adults. It serves boys from all 77 OK counties. Residents are placed in the home because they have been neglected and/or abused both physically and/or mentally or have a drug addiction problem. Funds will support the Medical Needs Program which provides medications and treatments needed for physical healing. $5,000
Volunteers of America of Oklahoma, Inc.Tulsa / MuskogeeServing over 11,000 individuals annually, VOAOK is dedicated to helping Oklahoma’s most vulnerable, including veterans, the aging, the homeless and the disabled. The VOAOK RSVP program places active seniors who want to serve their community in partner agencies to fulfill a crucial volunteer need in eastern OK. $5,000
Women In Safe Home, Inc.    MuskogeeWISH provides shelter and other services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The primary objective is to assist victims in safely escaping violence by providing a safe place for them and their children to stay. The secondary objective is to alleviate the trauma that both the victim and their children experience.  The final objective to is to empower victims to live independently and violence free.$10,000
Zoe Institute, Inc.TahlequahThe Cleaning Up Cherokee County program will provide 5,000 families with 1-3 months of hygiene products depending on the family size. 100% of the 5,000 families served will be low-income families. Hygiene packs will be distributed on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the Hands of Grace Food Bank.  Information regarding life skill classes and Zoe Institute’s other outreach products will be distributed inside each hygiene pack.  $10,000
Total (Eastern Oklahoma)$192,500
2) Jewish Education, Culture & Heritage
organizationlocationprogram detailsamount
Chabad Jewish Center of Greater Oklahoma City dba Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life & LearningOklahoma CityThe Scissortail Chanukah Festival is an annual community event, free to the public, that brings together both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens to celebrate Chanukah with the lighting of a giant menorah in Scissortail Park. The event features live music, kosher fair food, and booths of carnival entertainment.$10,000
Mizel Jewish Community Day SchoolTulsaMizel JCDS is the only Jewish Day School in Oklahoma. Its pre-K through 5th-grade program provides a model where elementary children can learn Jewish history, values, traditions, Hebrew language and ritual, along with secular courses. The funds would be used to offer partial scholarship assistance for at least 5 families. Currently, Mizel JCDS has 21 Jewish students, with over 15 students qualifying for scholarship assistance. $5,000
OU HillelNormanAs the only Jewish organization in Norman, OU Hillel remains the center of Jewish life and culture and serves students at OU, OSU, OCU, and UCO. Hillel staff work with Jewish educators to provide educational and cultural events, as well as study abroad and Israel immersive experiences. The organization also offers student/community meals, mentorship, volunteer opportunities, outreach, and programs focusing on interpersonal relations, culture, religion, Israel, Jewish education, and more. Each year, the Hillel hosts a week-long Israel festival, major holiday events, voter education initiatives, travel and study abroad, and post-graduation career assistance.$5,000
Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, Inc.TulsaThe Museum’s mission is to preserve and promote Jewish heritage, culture, history, and community through art and education. The SMMJA’s core programs include opportunities to engage the general public, especially students, with the exhibits that museum staff curate in partnership with local and national Jewish artists to present works that showcase the Jewish experience and the Jewish community’s cultural impact. These programs include 8th-grade Holocaust education, student art experiences and competitions, and a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions.$20,000
Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab (out-of-state)Cordova, TNThe Restorative Nursing program at Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab supports the physical and mental health of Jewish seniors living at the Home by providing daily therapy and restorative exercise to residents at no additional cost. This program aligns with the Kirschner Trusts’ goal to provide quality health and social services to Jewish people.$5,000
Jewish Braille Institute International (out-of-state)New York, NYJBI provides free access to works of Jewish and general interest through its Braille, Large Print, and Audio Libraries. The JBI Library is the world’s largest collection of Jewish interest materials for those who are blind, visually impaired, physically handicapped or reading disabled. Funds will be used to produce and distribute free Audio, Large Print and Braille materials to children, adults and seniors who cannot read standard print even with corrective lenses.   $5,000
Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (out-of-state)Jackson, MSISJL supports, connects, and celebrates Jewish life in the South and has three core service areas: Education, Culture, and Spirituality. Their main programs include a comprehensive religious school program, touring presenters and traveling rabbinical services, and literacy programming that targets low-income public-school students. The organization reaches approximately 10,000-13,000 people annually.$5,000
Total (Jewish Education, Culture & Heritage)$55,000
3) Vocational & Educational Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities
organizationlocationprogram detailsamount
A New Leaf, Inc.OwassoThe Academy’s mission is to mentor, model, motivate and prepare young adults with I/DD for independent living, competitive workforce wages and belonging to their communities. Students attend classes taught by Transition Academy instructors Mon – Fri at Tulsa Community College. Year 1 focuses on skills for independent living and includes courses such as “Money Matters” and “Dealing with Change”. Year 2 focuses on workforce development. Through a partnership with Green Country Workforce, students participate in paid internships within the community. $35,000
Beyond The Spectrum OK IncEdmondA “one-stop-shop” where families of I/DD children are able to address a number of needs at low or no cost to families already struggling with the financial burden of expensive treatments and therapies. The organization offers social skills classes, parent support groups and educational classes, dance classes, sign language instruction and speech therapy.$25,000
Cerebral Palsy of Oklahoma Inc. dba Ability Connection OklahomaOklahoma CityThe main goal of the program is to increase functional (meaningful) communication of nonverbal students with disabilities, thereby advancing their independence, productivity, and full citizenship. By providing these students a voice in the form of a speech communication device, they are able to participate more fully in their classroom experience.$22,000
Hearts for Hearing Foundation  Oklahoma CityHearts for Hearing creates opportunities for children and adults with hearing loss to listen for a lifetime. They support in the development of critical language and literacy skills by providing deaf and hard-of-hearing children with the latest hearing technology and specialized speech therapy. With this funding, they will continue to provide hearing technology, audiology, and speech therapy services. $25,000
Little Light House, Inc.TulsaChildren with disabilities who participate in the Developmental Center program at the Little Light House receive specialized pre-school education to prepare them for kindergarten. Additionally, they receive any necessary specialized therapy, such as physical, occupational, speech, low vision and assistive technology therapy, helping each child gain the ability to do everyday tasks such as walking, communicating, feeding him/herself, etc. $25,000
Not Your Average Joe, Inc.MooreNYAJ began in 2017 to help those marginalized by society. NYAJ focuses on inclusion through a series of coffee shops that now number five in the state of Oklahoma, providing employment for over 40 students and adults with IDD. This model is integrative, meaning those with IDD work alongside neurotypical peers in a community space where they engage the public and have opportunities for relationships outside of caregivers. This model is impacting the 80% rate of underemployment of students and adults with IDD in Oklahoma. $35,000
Oklahoma Foundation for the Education of Blind Children and Youth, Inc.MuskogeeMini-grants of up to $1000 are awarded to teachers of blind and visually impaired children and youth in OK schools (pre-K – 12). Teachers can use funds for special projects, additional classroom materials, tools and specialized equipment that can benefit the child’s education. Some of these activities include tuition for camps and youth activities, the purchase of adaptive equipment, materials for special projects, and educational resources for teachers. Scholarships of up to $1000 are also awarded to graduating high school seniors and students attending post-secondary schools who are blind or visually impaired. Students can use their scholarships to pay tuition costs, accessible instructional materials, and adaptive equipment.$6,000
Oklahoma School for the BlindMuskogeeOSB provides individualized academic, social, and vocational education, evaluations, and outreach services to OK’s blind and visually impaired children and youth.  The Transition Program is designed to aid in transitioning visually impaired/blind youth to the world of work and independent living in adulthood. The program incorporates short-term apartment-style living, work-study (which includes a new greenhouse and recycling program), concurrent enrollment, career tech, and independent living skills. $15,000
Oklahoma School for the BlindMuskogeeCurrently, OSB high school boys do not have private bedrooms. Their bedrooms are separated by shower curtains and partitions. The high school girls, however, have college dorm-like facilities. The boys need additional space and privacy as their bedrooms are utilized as part of their overall educational experience at OSB. Life and independent living skills are a vital part of the education they receive at OSB. The funds will enable OSB to complete the boys’ dormitory renovation. $45,000
Oklahoma School for the DeafSulphurThe LINKS to Literacy Program identifies at-risk students and pairs them with a fluent ASL signer. This mentor would develop an individualized plan for developing language, specifically focusing on social/emotional language. Once a month, the mentor will meet the student on-site at their school, focusing on a specific social/emotional vocabulary and skill (social story books). The Yoga/Art studio would benefit OSD students by promoting a constructive learning environment.  $15,000
South Central Industries, IncShawneeSCI provides vocational training, employment opportunities, residential services, and social outlets that help individuals with developmental disabilities achieve their maximum potential. SCI currently employs over 75 full-time employees, 35 of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities. SCI is in the middle of a campus expansion project aimed at increasing its capacity to provide supportive housing, employment, social inclusion, and health and social services to I/DD individuals (clients) and their families. Two pieces of this expansion include the construction of a new warehouse and the launch of a food truck, both of which provide vocational opportunities for young adults with I/DD. The warehouse will be equipped with adaptive equipment that allows clients to work with more independence and autonomy. The “Pop-Up” Food Truck adaptive training allows young adults with disabilities to enter the food service industry.$50,000
The Children’s Center Inc. dba Bethany Children’s Health CenterBethanyThe Center provides pediatric medical and rehabilitative services. The overarching goal of the Pathways Program is to meet the learning needs of individuals with disabilities that are in the transitional planning period of their lives. The program provides education, training, and supportive work opportunities for teens and young adults with disabilities to have the opportunity to grow, participate, and work toward independence.     $25,000
The Down Syndrome Association of Central OklahomaOklahoma CityThe Center will serve recent high school graduates with Down Syndrome by providing a place to access resources, support for academic success and job skills training. The goal at the end of the program is to offer job placement opportunities or post-secondary educational options. Participants will gather several days a week to take part in programming focused on topics such as Health/Wellness, Academic Readiness/Job Training/Internships, Community Service, and Social Skills training. Other educational opportunities and skills training can include resume building, budgeting, advocacy skills, cooking, mock job interviews and college tours.$20,000
Volunteers of America OK – MuskogeeMuskogee / TulsaYVC Muskogee provides volunteers as “camp buddies” to Camp Bennett’s Adult and Kid Summer Day Camps. The camp provides special needs campers with activities that bolster mental well-being, and improve social skills. YVC trains and sends around 15-20 volunteers every day from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.  The volunteers work as valued members of the staff, manning different activity and recreation centers such as science, arts & crafts, music, and outdoor sports. Volunteers also help facilitate field trips. $6,000
Total (Vocational & Educational Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities)$349,000
4) Park Trust Fund
organizationlocationprogram detailsamount
Parks & Recreation Department, City of MuskogeeMuskogeeTo fund new, or replacement signage for the Papilion, C. Clay Harrell Arboretum, and the Story Walk Project, all located at Honor Heights Park in Muskogee.$7,500
  Total (Park Trust Fund)$7,500
5) Memorial Trust Fund
organizationlocationprogram detailsamount
Hebrew Union CollegeNew York, NYRabbinic training.$3,200
  Total (Memorial Trust Fund)$3,200