Lyda Hill was born into riches, but unlike some Texas oil heiresses, she independently made a name for herself through business and entrepreneurship. Now in her 70s, she devotes herself to philanthropy full-time, she’s signed the Giving Pledge, and she's moving serious money out the door of her foundation. In 2013, she gave away $62.3 million.
Here are a few things to know about this energetic Dallas philanthropist and her foundation.
Foundation Grantmaking Has Three Priorities
Hill established her foundation with the sole purpose of advancing knowledge in nature and science. The foundation looks for public charities that support early stage bio-medical research, alternative energy, and the environment. Recent grantees include the American Red Cross of Dallas, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation, the Trinity Trust, and the Southwestern Medical Foundation.
Hill Focuses Within Those Priorities
Even before signing the Giving Pledge, Hill’s financial advisor told her about Pew Charitable Trusts as a means to deepen her philanthropic opportunities. Her first work with Pew was on the Global Ocean Legacy, a partnership of funders that helped to double the amount of ocean habitat worldwide. Marine conservation is at the heart of Hill’s environmental funding, and she recently pledged $7 million to the Nature Conservancy for marine conservation efforts.
She made headlines in 2012 after donating $1 million to the local Dallas National Public Radio affiliate and more recently for her $50 million contribution to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Moon Shots Program to fight cancer.
“It represents a different direction for research that crosses disciplines and offers new hope for breaking cancer’s codes,” she told Dallas News about her support of Moon Shots. “I’m pleased to offer my support to this historic effort.”
Hill is a breast cancer survivor and many of her family members have also been affected by cancer. Additionally, she awarded a $2 million grant to the Center for BrainHealth to help individuals in the military and veterans recover from brain injuries and trauma.
Much of Her Giving is in Texas and Colorado
Hill is a lifetime resident of both Texas and Colorado, so most of her support goes to the cities of Dallas and Colorado Springs. The Palmer Land Trust in Colorado Springs and the Trinity Land Trust in Dallas are two of Hill’s locally focused environmental grantees. The foundation does not accept unsolicited grant requests, nor does it often preselect grantees outside of these geographical boundaries.
Related - Lyda Hill Foundation: Texas Grants