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

IP OVERVIEW: The Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation invests 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: A transparent funder, the foundation accepts LOIs prior to submitting an application. It prioritizes work involving service animals, specifically seeing-eye dogs. It does not, however, provide awards for animal therapy, emotional support, or similar working dogs.

PROFILE: Established in 1990, the Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation honors the memory of its founder's wife Elaine. It provides grants to organizations for the "care, benefit, support and preservation of German Shepherd seeing eye dogs or other animals trained to assist sight-impaired or otherwise handicapped individuals." It also supports organizations that seek to preserve, care and benefit wildlife and the world's natural resources. The founder, Arthur L. "Bud" Johnson, Jr., was born and raised in the Rockford, Illinois area. After he served in the Army during the Second World War, he held several positions with the Coleman Company and Queen Stove Company among others.

While the foundation does not maintain specific grantmaking programs, its animal welfare and wild life investments take a broad approach. The foundation invests in some environmental and wildlife conservation, but prioritizes training and adopting of guide dogs across the United States. Specifically, the foundation invests in German Shepherds; however, it invests in a variety of dog training programs. 

Grants range from $40,000 to $150,000 or more, and the grantees span the United States. The foundation prioritizes funding “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.” In addition, some types of service dogs receive higher consideration  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, are not funded by this foundation. If some of an organization’s finances go toward emotional-support dogs, that organization must provide a complete account in its application of how many of these dogs it places compared to physical-disability-specialized dogs.

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. Past grantees include Southeastern Guide Dogs, a Florida guide-dog school that places guide dogs with new owners across the United States, among many others. 

The foundation welcomes unsolicited letters of inquiry (LOIs) by May 1st and applications by August 1st. The foundation “strongly encourages” grantseekers to send in an LOI prior to an application.


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