The Thompson Family Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Thompson Family Foundation was established in 1986 by the late Wade F.B. Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Thor Industries. The foundation strongly supports New York City arts and cultural institutions, particularly Park Avenue Armory, which has received some $130 million through the years. 

FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Preservation & Conservation, Health & Medical Research (Cancer), Education, Human Services

IP TAKE: Despite tens of millions moving through the door annually, the foundation keeps a low profile and does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals. It will be tough to get on this funder's radar. 

PROFILE: The late Wade F.B. Thompson passed away in 2009 from complications from colon cancer. He was cofounder and CEO of Thor Industries, a recreational-vehicle manufacturer. The foundation lives on and is steered by a handful of trustees. The foundation's president is Amanda JT Riegel, Thompson's daughter. Another trustee, Alan Siegel, is a director of Thor Industries. 

The Thompson Family Foundation's grantmaking isn't just limited to New York City, but it largest sums have gone to New York City institutions. Perhaps the biggest winner here is Park Avenue Armory,  a nonprofit cultural institution within the historic Seventh Regiment Armory. Thompson lived next door from the Armory and became interested in saving it when he first observed its deterioration. In 1993, Thompson founded the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy to preserve the building. In 2015, the Thompson Family Foundation gave a $65 million bequest to create an endowment for Park Avenue Armory's arts and educational programs. All told, the Thompsons and their foundation have given some $130 million to the outfit.

The Thompsons have also given strong support to Central Park Conservancy, and recently gave a $25 million gift to the organization. Other arts and culture grantees have included Dance Theatre of Harlem, Atlantic Theater Company, Kentler International Drawing Center, New York Restoration Project, City Parks Foundation, and Save Venice, which works to restore art and architecture in Venice, Italy. 

The foundation's New York City grantmaking also involves health which is unsurprising given the personal elements involved. Thompson was a champion of cancer screening and early detection, and founded the Drive Against Prostate Cancer in 2000. Grantees have included Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Cancer Research Institute, Beth Israel Medical Center , Columbia Medical Center, and American Committee for Weizmann Institute of Science. 

The Thompson Family Foundation's largest sums of late in New York City have gone to arts and culture and health. Still, the foundation's grantmaking also involves human services outfits like City Harvest, Job Path, and Yorkville Common Pantry. Thompson has also given grants to places like Fund for Public Schools, Graduate Center CUNY, and Chess in the Schools.

In a recent year, the foundation gave away some $27 million and held some $537 million in assets. 

PEOPLE:

  • Alan Siegel, Secretary & Treasurer
  • Amanda JT Riegel, President

CONTACT:

The Thompson Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the family, but below is contact information:

The Thompson Family Foundation, Inc.
230 Park Ave., Ste. 1541
New York City, NY 10169
Telephone: 6464803532