John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation: Grants for Animals and Wildlife

OVERVIEW: The Wiederhold Foundation is housed within the Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut, but giving is not restricted to that state. The foundation funds projects that better the lives of domesticated and wild animals, including animal rescue and land conservation and advances in veterinary medicine, and proposals are accepted by invite only.

IP TAKE: While only giving about a half million in recent years, this legacy donor foundation has made some sizable grants nonetheless, with a lot of giving in equipment and facilities for animal welfare outfits. Grantseekers in Connecticut or the Northeast have an edge. 

PROFILE: John and Jane Wiederhold were a Connecticut couple who loved animals, pets especially, but who appreciated nature and wildlife across the board. The Wiederholds had no heirs, and when sharp investor John passed away in 1998, Jane, a former New York City model, inherited assets of $12.7 million, establishing the foundation in his memory. 

The couple’s estate weathered a storm in the mid-2000s when their attorney was charged and convicted of stealing $3.8 million in stocks while Jane Wiederhold was suffering from Alzheimer’s, prior to her passing in 2007. But today, their legacy is well established as a supporting organization of the Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut.

The foundation’s giving is almost entirely devoted to animal welfare, with an emphasis on dogs and cats, but runs the spectrum of domestic and non-domestic animals. As the Wiederholds had a strong appreciation of nature, the foundation makes some conservation grants.

Many grants made in recent years from Wiederhold go to what you might expect from an animal welfare funder. For example, it supports the Humane Society, both local chapters and the federal organization. It's given to the ASPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and Our Companions Domestic Animal Society, a shelter in Connecticut. 

One of the foundation’s largest grants in recent history, however, went to marine wildlife work, with a large grant to the Mystic Aquarium to establish an Ocean Research and Conservation Center. The aquarium has a living collection of more than 4,000 animals including sea lions, seals, penguins, sharks and more. The grant will fund a new facility for the aquarium, animal care, water quality work, and research. 

Another interesting branch of the funder’s giving is for veterinary medicine and research. Wiederhold recently awarded a large multi-year grant to support experiential learning for students, as well as research in shelter and conservation medicine fields. Faculty at Cornell are invited to submit proposals for academic programs that involve hands-on education opportunities and research in animal welfare and conservation.

Regarding who controls grantmaking, contact does go through the community foundation, but the Wiederhold has its own board of trustees that direct decisions. Funding mostly remains with programs rooted in Connecticut or the Northeast, but isn’t exclusive to the region, with programs across the country eceiving funding. 

PEOPLE:

  • Marsha Sterling, Chair
  • Marnie FitzMaurice, Trustee
  • Susan B. Linker, Trustee
  • Sandy Monterose, Trustee
  • Roberta Lee August, Trustee

 

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