Howard G. Buffett Foundation: Grants for Public Health

OVERVIEW: The Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s public health grants are largely focused on food insecurity.

IP TAKE: The foundation started putting more money into its anti-hunger grantmaking in 2010, and shows no sign of stopping. 

PROFILE: Since it was established in 1999, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation has focused on improving the lives of “the most impoverished and marginalized populations.” While a lot of this work takes the foundation overseas to some of the world’s least developed countries, the foundation is also dialed in to the needs of impoverished and marginalized populations in the United States—particularly as those needs relate to food security.

Buffett’s food security grantmaking revolves around “agricultural resource development for smallholder farmers,” in an effort to promote the best farming practices to positively affect vulnerable communities. Additionally, the foundation gives widely to national anti-hunger initiatives across the U.S.

For Buffett, food security and farming go hand-in-hand, once telling The Washington Post: "It is impossible to interact with folks whose daily life is farming and who are poor—who can't even produce enough food to feed themselves and their families, which is so antithetical to farming when you're in the United States, right, because all we do is grow a ton of food and sell it all—it's, in my mind, impossible not to be passionate about it."

The Buffett Foundation also contributes to public health matters through its Public Safety focus area. In this grantmaking space, the foundation awards grants to increase the capacity of all-volunteer fire and sheriffs' departments in the rural communities in which the foundation operates. Grantmaking is limited primarily to Illinois. Public safety grants are also awarded on a limited basis to counties in Nebraska.

Grant amounts vary widely, with a low end of around $25,000, rising to multi-million dollar awards. The foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for funding.

PEOPLE: 

  • Ann Kelly Bolton, President
  • Trisha Cook, Vice President of Operations and Treasurer
  • Matraca Meyer, Assistant Coordinator, U.S. Agriculture 

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