What Does Scott Wise, the Cullen Foundation’s New President, Bring to the Houston Funding Scene?

The Cullen Foundation is a Houston-focused funder that supports cultural arts, education, healthcare and public service in Texas. It’s been on the local philanthropy scene in Houston since 1947, but recently caught our attention because a new leader stepped in to take charge.

Longtime president Alan Stewart stepped down as the foundation president at the end of last year, and Scott Wise took over to kick off 2017. Since we’re just getting to know this funder and what it cares about, we thought it would be a great time to learn a little bit more about the new man in charge.

Scott Wise comes from the financial industry, and was the founding president and chief investment officer of Covariance Capital Management. But interestingly, his finance work has touched on many aspects of the philanthropic sector, as well. In fact, his investment boutique specialized in managing nonprofit endowments. Wise knows a lot about endowments, actually, as he also founded Rice Management Co. and was responsible for the university’s endowment and debt. He has a long history with Rice University, formerly serving as its chief investment officer for 21 years.

Otherwise, Wise appears to have interests in education and the performing arts. He has served on the boards of the Episcopal High School, the Houston Grand Opera Endowment, and other groups.

The leader Wise takes over from, Alan Stewart, who led the Cullen Foundation for nearly 25 years. The foundation's assets currently stand at around $275 million. 

Education has long been the top priority of this funder. Culture grants have been the second-biggest priority lately, but in the past, healthcare has taken that spot. Given Wise’s history with education and culture, we don’t expect the current trend to shift very much during his first year in office. Wise also mentioned in a press release that advancing Greater Houston is the foundation’s enduring mission, so no big changes on that front, either.

You can learn more about the Cullen Foundation’s history, interests and grantmaking guidelines in our full profile of this funder. Online applications are accepted from Texas-based organizations for programs in Texas throughout the year.

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