Alexander the Great was able to take out the mighty Persian empire with an army of just 32,000 soldiers. How? Superior tactics. And while many small funders feel they can't go after the big game because they lack resources, smart tactics can go a long way in making the best of a modest endowment.
The Wiederhold Foundation gives under a million a year to animal welfare, but that’s included some serious grants for veterinary medicine, and some intriguing research projects. Sit tight—there are robot squirrels involved.
The John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation is a legacy funder of the couple, both of whom passed within the last 15 years or so. The couple had no heirs, and were passionate about animals. In their memory, the foundation has given steadily to your usual animal causes, including shelters, and some great ASPCA and Humane Society programs.
But it's also delved into medicine and research for pets, rescues and wildlife, as an extension of its mission to better the lives of animals. These have been some of the largest recent grants for the funder, and some of the most interesting.
The most notable was a $300,000 commitment to Cornell University over the course of three years, for both veterinary hands-on learning and research projects. Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine facilitated the funding, inviting faculty to apply for projects.
Another large grant, for $250,000 awarded this year, went to the Mystic Aquarium for construction of a new medical care and research facility. The building will consolidate the aquarium’s veterinary care, water quality functions, and expand its research efforts.
Those are some pretty hefty grants for a humble foundation that’s given between $500,000 and $750,000 in recent years.
And the foundation has backed some pretty interesting research endeavors too. For example, it funded the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary Clinical Investigation Center, which has studied development of canine mammary tumors, including collaborative work that could have implications in human breast cancer research.
Wiederhold also backed researcher Sarah Partan of Hampshire College in Massachusetts for her work on animal communication. Partan’s work looks into whether habitat and environmental change affects how animals communicate. Specifically, she’s using robotic squirrels and video cameras to study how different colored squirrels in different surroundings signal to each other using cute little tail flicks and squirrel calls.
As you might expect, Wiederhold gives mostly in Connecticut or the Northeast, but not exclusively, with some national programs on the docket. To learn more about the funder's work, see our IP Profile and visit the website.