Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder primarily supports K-12 education in the Atlanta Metro area, but also funds youth, health, economic opportunity, and human services causes in the 13 Georgia counties surrounding the city.

FUNDING AREAS: Youth, education, health, economic opportunity

IP TAKE: Whitehead prioritizes local education more than anything else. There are over $1 billion in assets here for local groups, so grant seekers should take the time to send a brief email to the foundation to see if there are opportunities for programs.

PROFILE: The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation is an independent, private foundation that primarily serves the needs of Metro Atlanta. It seeks to “help people in need in metro Atlanta, particularly children, by investing in education, health and economic opportunity.” Whitehead was one of the original bottlers of Coca-Cola, and established the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company, later called The Coca-Cola Bottling Company. With his partner John T. Lupton, Whitehead laid the groundwork for a national bottling system

Before Whitehead died in 1906, he gave generously to churches, orphanages, and human services organizations in Atlanta. His oldest son, Joseph B. Whitehead, Jr., established this foundation in his father’s name in 1937. Today, this funder supports early childhood education, K-12 education, children and youth, human services, and health.

This foundation has awarded over $866 million in grants over the years and supports the Metro Atlanta region, including the following Georgia counties: Butts, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale. In a recent year, the foundation paid out over $69 million across 43 grants, ranging from $25,000 to $15 million apiece. That year, the foundation reported over $1.53 billion in assets.

The bulk of grants support K-12 education and academic enrichment. Funding mostly supports Atlanta Public Schools and prioritizes teacher quality and graduation rates. This is followed by causes for children and youth. This encompasses personal development, academic support, and recreation for Atlanta kids in need.

Early education support is largely funneled through Smart Start at the United Way of Greater Atlanta. Human services funding supports well-established local organizations that serve vulnerable populations, like the elderly and disabled. And the funder’s health focus prioritizes access to healthcare for low-income populations in Metro Atlanta.

Generally, this is a foundation that prefers not to be the lead funder on a project, but rather join in on an existing community effort. Grant seekers can view a list of previous grantees on the funder's website by year.

Because of family and Coca-Cola connections, the Whitehead Foundation shares an office and staff with the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. However, each of these foundations is governed by its own board and charter. Grant requests sent to the Whitehead Foundation may also automatically be considered by these other funders, so grant seekers do not need to send separate inquiries to each funder individually.

Application deadlines are February 1 and September 1 each year, however, grant proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. Grantseekers should send an informal email to or call Grants Program Director Lizzy Smith at 404-522-6755 to determine eligibility. Questions about how to apply for grants or about the grants program in general should be directed to Grants Officer Jenny Morgan at 404-522-6755 or


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