Cullen Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports cultural arts, education, healthcare, and public service in the Greater Houston area. Grant applications are accepted throughout the year. 

FUNDING AREAS: Cultural arts, education, healthcare, and public service

IP TAKE: This is an excellent funder to know if you work in Houston and serve local residents. The funding areas are broad, but education is a priority.

PROFILE: The Cullen Foundation was established by Hugh Roy and Lille Cranz Cullen in 1947. The couple made their wealth in oil and gas properties, and the foundation gradually reduced its dependence on these industries over the years. You can learn more about Hugh Roy and his connection to Texas and the Houston area here.

This private family foundation funds cultural arts, education, healthcare, and public service efforts in Texas, mostly in the Greater Houston region. In a recent giving year, the foundation gave 31 percent of grants to education, 29 percent to cultural groups, 24 percent to public service, and 16 percent to healthcare. Grants that year totaled $12,750,000. The foundation has always prioritized education, however, healthcare grants have been a growing piece of the pie. Additional information on grants since inception can be viewed here, and more recent giving can be viewed on the foundation website.

At the time this profile was written, the foundation had a market value of about $275 million. It has distributed over $475 million in grants since inception. Its charitable contributions have included endowments to multiple Cullen Endowments and three Cullen Trusts. Each of those trusts is dedicated to a single purpose: healthcare, higher education, and the performing arts.

The foundation only accepts online applications for grants, and grants are restricted to Texas-based organizations for programs in Texas. That said, Greater Houston is a priority.

There are no application deadlines, and applications are accepted throughout the year. The board typically meets eight times per year—a lot for most foundations. However, it is recommended you submit your application four to six months before the date that you need the grant funds.

This foundation considers many types of grant requests, including things like construction, renovations, and purchases of real estate property. Further information about the grant guidelines can be viewed here. Many past grants have been between $60,000 and $1 million.

Family members of the founders serve as directors of the foundation today. There are five directors on the board, led by Isaac Arnold Jr. as president. General questions can be directed to the three-person staff via online form or to president/treasurer Scott Wise at 713-651-8620, or grant administrator Gina McEvily at 713-651-8837.


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)



  • What Does Cullen’s New President Bring to the Houston Funding Scene?