Park Foundation: Grants for Animals & Wildlife

OVERVIEW: From its website, this family foundation based in upstate New York "supports nationally-significant efforts to ensure the humane treatment, care and well-being of domestic animals and the protection and conservation of endangered wildlife and wildlife in captivity in the U.S." Park’s animal-related grantmaking is mostly devoted to spay/neuter programs, anti-dogfighting efforts, and public education about the two topics. It's also very interested in policy and advocacy work on behalf of threatened wildlife, and programs that care for primates after they are liberated from labs, entertainment venues, and the pet trade.

IP TAKE:  Although the foundation has other funding categories outside of animal welfare, it's worth it to try applying, as it does accept unsolicitied proposals and has readily available grant information on its website. It also welcomes grantees to contact them before submitting to make sure the foundation is a fit.

PROFILE: The foundation was started in 1966 by Roy H. Park, who first had financial success when he co-created the packaged food brand Duncan Hines. But in his second career, he was head of what eventually became Park Communications, an owner of radio stations, television stations and newspapers. When Park passed in 1993, most of his fortune went to the foundation.

The foundation’s giving is pretty diverse. Park actually makes most of its grants toward higher education, with seven-figure giving for scholarships at Ithaca College and North Carolina State University, the latter being Roy Park’s alma mater. Another big priority is media funding, including progressive online journalism ventures and public broadcasting.  

The Environment program makes the highest number of grants by a large margin, although in dollars is usually in the same ballpark as media giving. Separate from the Environment program, there is a smaller but still substantial Animal Welfare program. 

Animal-related giving is divided between two priorities—domestic animals and wildlife. 

On the domestic side, the focus is on reducing the number of strays and stopping cruelty to animals, including spay/neuter services, shelters and efforts to end dog fighting. The bulk of domestic grants usually goes toward shelters and adoptions. Park also funds work on agricultural cruelty to animals and vegetarianism.

In general, wildlife funding has a more national focus, and includes policy and advocacy to protect threatened species. The foundation does place a specific emphasis on primate rescue, especially toward refuges and medical centers for animals rescued from captivity, either for biomedical research, entertainment or as former pets.

One other thing to note: As the foundation generally has a fondness for media projects and building public support, wildlife and animal programs that feature these tactics are likely to have an edge. That could mean documentary filmmaking (Park recently funded a documentary about the ethics of wildlife documentaries!), promoting media coverage, or creating viral ads. But as you can see, grants are quite diverse and not limited to any one species or even habitat. You can search and learn more about their past grantees here.

In fact, one of the best things about the Park Foundation is that, for such a substantial funder, they are relatively proposal- and grantee-friendly. They are wide open to proposals with quarterly deadlines, and accept letters of inquiry or just preliminary phone calls or emails. They do recommend potential new grantees send LOIs first, and of course, stay within program interests to save everyone time.