Phil Hardin Foundation Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports education in Mississippi, especially related to literacy and early childhood education. Grant applications are reviewed every month or two.

FUNDING AREAS: Education in Mississippi, early childhood education, literacy

IP TAKE: Pitch an early literacy program in the Meridian, Mississippi, area, and make sure that classroom technology needs are addressed with it in low-income communities.

PROFILE: The Phil Hardin Foundation has one main goal, which is to improve the education of Mississippians. The foundation’s history dates back to the 1930s when Mr. Hardin bought a bankrupt bakery in Meridian and turned it into the highly successful Hardin Bakeries Corporation. Hardin established his foundation in 1964 and chose a board of directors to help guide the foundation’s assets and purpose.

Phil Hardin was proud to be a Mississippian and everyone who works at the foundation even today is a Mississippi resident. This is a place-based funder that exclusively gives to education-related causes within the state. Special preference is given to education groups in Meridian and Lauderdale Counties, as well as for emergent opportunities.

This is a private funder that values collaboration and regularly works with other grantmakers and public and private groups to improve pre-K learning and teaching. It has also been known to partner with institutions of higher learning, the Mississippi Department of Education, corporations and policy makers to pursue the foundation’s education goals.

You can view a list of past grantees and their project descriptions on the funder’s website. Recent grants have been anywhere from $500 to $500,000. In terms of programs supported, the Hardin Foundation has lately pushed for literacy and early childhood education. Technology also plays a big role in the foundation’s grantmaking strategy to improve education.

On a side note, the foundation also cares about historic preservation and has helped support the costs of printing and distribution of publications that detail Mississippi’s history and values through literature and the arts. The foundation also awards scholarships of around $5,000 to local students.

The foundation board meets on the second Wednesday of each month except August and November to consider new grant proposals from local applicants. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but you should submit yours no later than 60 days before the meeting you’d like it to be considered. In a recent year, the foundation had $53 million in assets and made over $2.1 million in annual grants.

Any questions about the grantmaking process should be directed to


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