Why This Family Foundation in Texas Set Its Sights Internationally

When David Weekley—founder of David Weekley Homes in Texas—first began his philanthropy, his focus was on helping his community: "When you start working in your own community, there are a lot of positives. You’ve already got relationships... I myself focused on those kinds of things in the first 10 years of my giving." To that end, Weekley is a strong funder in areas like human services and education in Texas.

As the years went by, however, Weekley's interests expanded internationally. He traveled to China, India, and countries in eastern Europe and Africa. In Rwanda, he visited President Kagame, who was skeptical about charity, but instead wanted investment. This led Weekley to the virtues of microfinance.

Weekley says he looks at three things when looking to fund charities: "One, is it high leverage? Two, is it scalable? And, three, is it sustainable?" Weekley practices a venture philanthropy model of investing to grow nonprofits and social enterprises serving the global poor. The foundation mostly concentrates on education, health, and livelihoods with a focus on helping young, innovative organizations scale up their proven models to reduce poverty.

So far, the foundation's work in this area is still developing. Weekley has said that he's particularly drawn to "faith-based microfinance groups, like Hope International and Opportunity International." As well, he's interested in micro-clinics. To that end, Weekley has invested in the Health Store Foundation, as well as several start-ups in different African countries.

A 2013 tax filing by the David Weekely Family Foundation lists around $1.5 million going towards international development. Edify received just over $165,000 in 2013. The outfit says it aims to "improve and to expand sustainable, affordable Christ-centered education in the developing world" and operates in countries like Ghana, Peru, and Rwanda. Another recently supported outfit is Opportunity International, which received $200,000 in 2013, and provides "provides small business loans, savings, insurance and training to more than five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world." Weekley has also supported Village Schools International (VSI).

Other outfits that have been supported include HOPE and the popular One Acre Fund, which aims to increase the productivity and incomes of small farmers in East Africa. I've written before about the Pershing Square Foundation's support of One Acre Fund.

Related:What Does It Look Like When a Hedge Fund Billionaire Takes on Global Poverty?

Director of the David Weekley Family Foundation's international giving program is Becca Wammack, who worked at Philanthropy Roundtable and for a U.S. Senator, before joining the foundation. The good news for grantseekers is that while the foundation doesn't provide clear guidelines for grantseekers, Wammack encourages people who want more information to contact her.

The important thing to remember here is that the foundation's philanthropy in this area is still forming. However, Weekley plans on making this area a major priority: "I want at least half of my giving to be directed internationally." Grantseekers should definitely keep apprised of this foundation in the coming years.

Related: David Weekley Family Foundation Grants for Development