Hildebrand Foundation: Texas Grants

OVERVIEW: The Hildebrand Foundation is the creation of billionaire couple Jeff and Mindy Hildebrand, who made their fortune in the oil industry through the Houston-based Hilcorp Energy. Foundation grantmaking is centered on faith-based organizations that serve the poor and needy in Houston and throughout Texas.

FUNDING AREAS: Poor and needy families, local parks, faith-based nonprofits

IP TAKE: Interested grantseekers should pursue a faith-based angle unless they are directly affiliated with a local cause that the Hildebrand couple is already involved with. Low-income families in Houston are the target for much of the foundation’s grantmaking.

PROFILE: Jeff Hildebrand, the CEO of Hilcorp Energy and his wife, Mindy, established the Hildebrand Foundation in 2002 to provide for the poor and needy through faith-based organization. Jeff has been worth an estimated $4.6 billion (and growing) because of his success in the oil industry, and the couple resides in Houston. He started Hilcorp in 1989 with a passion for buying old oilfields and applying technology to make them profitable again. He's one of the biggest players in the industry, having bought several oil fields in Alaska from BP for $1.25 billion and previously making a $1.8 billion sale to Marathon Oil.

Headquartered in Houston, Hilcorp is a well-known name around town, and the corporation is even building new office towers downtown. Almost all grantmaking is centered on Texas, with strong priority given to faith-based groups in the Houston area.

The Hildebrand Foundation’s website is pretty bare-bones, but it does give us a few insights into the grant guidelines. Here are some key facts to keep in mind about this funder:

  • Hildebrand prefers faith-based organizations
  • Organizations and programs in Texas, specifically the Houston area, are given preference
  • Nonprofits should serve the local poor and needy
  • Grant applications are accepted throughout the year
  • Grant applications must be mailed to the foundation
  • Don’t apply for a grant more than once per year
  • Construction funding requests are considered, but equipment requests generally aren’t
  • Applications are reviewed several times per year

The foundation made headlines with its $10 million Earth Day gift to Bayou Greenways 2020, a program of the Houston Parks Board. This grant stood out, not only because of its size, but also because the grantee wasn’t a faith-based organization. However, Mindy Hildebrand has been involved with the Houston Parks Board for a while now, and the parks project actually served poor Houston neighborhoods as well as affluent ones. Mindy was appointed to the Houston Parks Board by Mayor Bill White.

Mindy Hildebrand is affiliated with many other charitable organizations and boards, which may impact the foundation’s philanthropic support as well. She's also involved with the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, Memorial Park Conservancy Endowment of Houston, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, LifeHouse in Houston, CHOICES at Episcopal High School in Houston, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Junior League of Houston, and Sous Commandre de Houston.

On a smaller scale, the foundation also gave $200,000 to Northwest Assistance Ministries for a capital campaign to build a new training and retail facility. This is a representative grantee of the Hildebrand Foundation because it's a nonprofit, community-based social service agency that strives to meet basic human needs and provide food, shelter, health, education, safety, and financial education. In a recent fiscal year, this nonprofit reached 131,000 people with its programs.

Other past grants include a $15,000 matching grant to the Nehemiah Center and at least $5,000 to Monarch School. In March 2015, the Houston Chronicle ranked the Hildebrand Foundation the eighth top giver in the Houston area, with $28,296,250 in total giving. That money was spread across over 50 nonprofits. At the end of 2013, the foundation reported over $158 million in assets.

Your best point of contact is Jennifer Gibson, the foundation’s grant coordinator, who can be reached at 713-965-9177.


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