The Lowdown on Meadows’ Local Giving in Texas

Based in the heart of Dallas, the Meadows Foundation has been making headlines for its education and arts funding, but how much do you really know about this funder’s local giving?

Related: Meadows Foundation: Texas Grants 

Related: Meadows Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

We thought the Meadows Foundation deserved a place in our Southwest funding guide because of its commitment to the people of Texas. So here are a few key observations and things to keep in mind about this Texas grantmaker.  

It Was Established from Texas Oil Money

Algur and Virginia Meadows established the Meadows Foundation in 1948 specifically to benefit the people of Texas. The money came from Al’s success with the General American Oil Company of Texas, and they entrusted family members and a few advisors to carry on their spirit of philanthropy. Between one-third and half of grants are kept in the Dallas area, while the remainder is spread throughout Texas.

Grantmaking is Slowly Increasing

In 2014, the Meadows Foundation paid out $24.9 million total in grants. That topped the previous three years, which came in at $23.4 million, $20.1 million, and $23.6 million. At a glance, it seems that grant amounts are growing, resulting in fewer total grants but deeper targeted support.

The foundation has awarded over $775 million in grants, supporting over 2,000 Texas nonprofits throughout the decades. The largest grant ever awarded was for $45 million and the smallest for just $15.

Related: Behind Meadows' Big Gift to SMU

Arts & Culture is Top Priority

Although the Meadows Foundation also makes sizable commitments to education, health, human services, civic and public affairs, and the environment, arts & culture has been the overall top priority since 2005. Approximately 23 percent of grantmaking over the past decade has gone toward arts and culture groups in Texas.

Program, Operating, and Capital Support Are Common

Between 2005 and 2014, the type of support provided by the Meadows Foundation was pretty evenly split. Here’s how the last decade broke down: 37 percent program, 32 percent capital, 29 percent operating support, two percent endowment, and less than one percent planning.

There’s a Distinction between Areas of Giving and Initiatives

These are the foundation’s areas of giving:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Civic/Public Affairs
  • Education
  • Health
  • Human Services

And these are the foundation’s current initiatives:

  • Environment
  • Mental Health
  • Public Education

What’s the difference for grantseekers?

Well, "areas of giving" are the traditional funding categories that have remained pretty consistent since the beginning. These aren’t likely to change anytime soon, and these areas tend to see the largest numbers of grants.

The initiatives were developed in response to current local needs, so these categories are a bit more flexible. Lately, the foundation has also been paying attention to crime reduction and animal welfare programs, too.  

Applications in Any Format Are Always Welcome

Fortunately for grantseekers, the Meadows Foundation welcomes unsolicited grant applications, not only at certain times, but all throughout the year. Even better, the staff generally acknowledges receipt of applications within one week and processes applications within three or four months.

And if that wasn’t enough good news, there is no standard application requirement, as nonprofits can submit a grant proposal in any format they wish. Check out the grants database to get a better idea of the types of grantees Meadows likes to support and read through the grant application guidelines to get your foot in the door.