OVERVIEW: The Caterpillar Foundation awards global development grants to alleviate poverty. It also tends to notice organizations that link its work to empowering women and girls.
IP TAKE: Caterpillar is well known for funding women's empowerment in developing countries.
PROFILE: Founded in 1952, the Caterpillar Foundation intends to transform lives by championing programs that support education, disaster relief, the environment and basic human needs. The foundation emphasizes a bottom-up approach that seeks to alleviate poverty and empower people to help themselves. Since Michele Sullivan became its president in 2011, the foundation has shifted focus to women’s empowerment, water sanitation and hygiene, and global poverty advocacy. It believes that only once people are able to meet their basic, human needs, can they move on to pursue economic security and education, which consequently leads to economic development.
Sharing the foundation's approach to women's empowerment, Michele Sullivan told IP that, "If a girl is successful, so is the rest of the family. It helps everyone. If you help the girl, you help the family and the village and the society." As a result, it heavily supports water and sanitation issues, which often fall upon women and girls to amend preventing them from pursuing an education or economic security. Indeed, Caterpillar is one of Water.org's largest funders in seeking to expand sanitation access in India.
The foundation has also supported the UN Foundation’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves initiative. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by exposure to smoke from cooking, and often fall will or die as a result.
For a broader view into past projects it has funded, examine its Grant Partners page. Please note that Caterpillar's grantmaking is made by invitation only.
- Michele Sullivan, President
- Jennifer Zammuto, Foundation Manager