A Progressive Funder With a Soft Spot for Primate Rescue

While the Ithaca-based Park Foundation may be better known for funding public media and taking a hard line in the fight against fracking, its animals and wildlife program regularly gives for care of primates rescued from captivity.  

One of the interests within Park’s animals program is specifically focused on helping the animals that have been held in research laboratories, for entertainment work, or as pets. It’s part of a broader focus on preventing cruelty to animals and protecting endangered wildlife. They’ve made grants to multiple medical care centers and refuges.

The Park Foundation is a family philanthropy led by Adelaide Gomer, the daughter of the late media executive Roy H. Park. Park was originally from North Carolina, where he first found success with the creation of the Duncan Hines packaged food brand. He went on to create what would become Park Communications, a return of sorts to his early work in journalism. 

The Park Foundation has become quite an active funder in a few areas, mainly higher education, media the environment, giving significant support for independent media projects and public broadcasting. Gomer's also become fairly prominent in the New York liberal community, a frequent donor to Democratic candidates and an honoree of Common Cause. Part of this attention has to do with Park's large role in the anti-fracking movement in New York State. 

But animals remain a niche passion for the foundation, which gives about $18 million a year, of which around 30 grants for a quarter million each go to the Animal Welfare program. Program giving is split between domestic animals—including shelters, spay/neuter services and efforts to stop dog fighting—and wildlife, which covers threatened species and primate funding. 

Much of this funding is located in the South, including Save the Chimps and the Center for Orangutan and Chimpanzee Conservation in Florida. They’ve also made grants to Chimp Haven in Louisiana and Primarily Primates in Texas, for example. All of these nonprofits are dedicated to creating permanent refuges for apes who have been rescued from biomedical research, entertainment or pet trade. 

Grants from Park are usually in the middle range, hovering around $50,000, but as low as $5,000 and topping off at $100,000 in this program. One good thing about Park is that, while not a huge foundation, they give a large number of grants, and seem quite open to contact from prospective grantees, and letters of inquiry.

Learn more about the Park Foundation here.