Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation: Grants for Animals and Wildlife

IP OVERVIEW: Founded in 1990 by the late Illinois salesman and German-shepherd lover Arthur L. Johnson Jr., the Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation funds efforts to care for and support German Shepherd seeing eye dogs or other animals trained to assist people with physical handicaps. It also supports organizations that provide for the preservation, care, and benefit of wildlife.

IP TAKE: If your organization’s work involves service animals--especially seeing-eye dogs--and you want to grow your capacity, this foundation could be a great option for you. Note: this foundation does not fund programs that provide therapy, emotional support, or similar working dogs.

PROFILE: During his lifetime, Arthur L. Johnson Jr. loved German shepherd dogs and appreciated their usefulness as guide dogs for humans who are blind or otherwise physically handicapped. And in 1990, he launched this foundation to support the training and adopting of guide dogs across the United States. While some of its grants go toward environmental and wildlife conservation, guide-dog schools still get the biggest share.

Grants run from $40,000 to $150,000 or more, and the grantees span the United States. But if you’re going to apply, be mindful first of why you are applying. The foundation prefers to support “long-term change” within an organization; to give out grants to help expand capacity, rather than dole out grants to single projects and onetime campaigns, or grants for “general support.”

And some types of service dogs get higher consideration at this foundation than others. Dogs who assist the blind are its first and foremost area of interest. Following this are dogs whose owners suffer from any kind of physical disability, such as partial paralysis, amputations, and so on.

Dogs trained for emotional therapy or support, such as dogs trained for autistic persons and persons suffering from PTSD, aren't funded by this foundation. If some of an organization’s finances go toward emotional-support dogs, that organization must provide a complete accounting in its application of how many of these dogs it places compared to physical-disability-specialized dogs.

Also key: all organizations must be registered 501c3 organizations, but they must also not require their recipients to pay anything more than a nominal fee for services.

Southeastern Guide Dogs, a Florida guide-dog school that places guide dogs with new owners across the United States, is an example of a grantseeker that met all of Arthur and Elaine V. Johnson’s criteria. It received a large grant to buy equipment for a new veterinary hospital.

The foundation welcomes unsolicited letters of inquiry (LOIs) and applications; just make sure to get your application in by the deadline, which is August 1. Anything that arrives after that date will get a review “at the trustee’s sole discretion,” according to the website.

You’ll up your chances, by the way, if you submit an LOI first. The Web page “strongly encourages” grant seekers to do so, so as to make it easier for the foundation to assess the grantseeker’s project more quickly. Those grant-seekers who do not submit an LOI, it adds, “may significantly reduce the likelihood of the grant being funded.”


David Hammerslag, managing trustee

Sally Mode, senior trustee


Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation