OVERVIEW: With a focus on North Texas nonprofits, the Rees-Jones Foundation awards grants in the areas of human services, youth development, mental health, and community benefit. The billionaire couple behind these funds often makes headlines with mutli-million dollar grants.
FUNDING AREAS: Human services for children and families, youth development, mental health, and community benefit, international
IP TAKE: This is a funder that likes to support Christian organizations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and surrounding counties. Pitch a program or a case for general operating support that helps local kids with health issues or unstable family situations.
PROFILE: The Rees-Jones Foundation was created by Texas oil billionaire Trevor Rees-Jones and his wife, Jan, in 2006. It approaches grantmaking through serving God and compassion for people who are suffering. Trevor, who has a net worth of about $5.2 billion, is a classic Texas oil tycoon who started his career as a Dallas bankruptcy attorney. He founded Chief Oil & Gas in the 1990s, and the company operates on at least 210,000 acres that produce roughly 800 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
There are four areas of domestic giving at the foundation: human services for children and families, youth development, mental health, and community benefit. Human services grantmaking is centered on children and youth who have been neglected or abused and are in need of adoption and foster care. Rees-Jones also awards some grants to organizations that help children with physical disabilities. The foundation’s youth development program supports education, mentoring, camping opportunities, and formative experiences.
Meanwhile, Rees-Jones mental health grants are also focused on children and youth and awarded to increase access to mental health care for therapy and treatment. Community benefit grants go toward economically and educationally underserved communities in North Texas. Animal welfare is a big part of this program, especially to support the humane treatment of companion animals.
Major headline-worthy Rees-Jones grants include $25 million to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science, $25 million to the Boy Scouts, and $19 million to Children’s Medical Center to create the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence. The foundation has shown support for same-sex education, charter schools, and local hospitals. We have also seen Rees-Jones grants go to an international hospital ship and children who have suffered from trauma-related developmental issues ($20 million to TCU Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University).
Although the grantmaking focus is on North Texas, Rees-Jones occasionally considers requests from Christian nonprofits working internationally in the foundation’s areas of giving on an invitation-only basis. Nonprofits in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area and adjoining counties see the most support from the Rees-Jones couple.
The couple has also supported the Republican Party with major contributions over the years. Trevor is a friend and business partner of Ross Perot, the former candidate and businessman who created Rees-Jones grantee Perot Museum of Nature & Science. Back in 2011, the Rees-Jones couple was noted for having the 25th most expensive home in Dallas, valued at $13 million. At the end of a recent year, the Rees-Jones Foundation reported nearly $583 million in assets and made over $34 million in grant distributions.
“Makin’ money’s fun,” Trevor Rees-Jones said in a D Magazine interview, “but givin’ money away’s as much or more fun.” In the future, he added, it’s going to be “important to shift more of our resources into our foundation.”
Unlike many grantmaking institutions that accept unsolicited requests, a letter of inquiry is not required but simply a suggestion if you have questions about the qualifications of your grant request. In general, the foundation does not make multi-year commitments, and it doesn’t fund more than 25 percent of a project’s budget or 10 percent of an organization’s operating budget. With that said, both general operating support and project funding are common. Capital support is also provided. There are no grant application deadlines, but it’s a good idea to get your request in at least four months before you need the funding.
The foundation’s Of Current Interest page features stories about grant recipients and topics that the staff cares about at any given time. Past stories have featured international justice issues, service dogs, child abuse, youth summer camp, and mission work in Africa.
Interested nonprofits can reach out to the foundation staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 214-751-2977. The foundation is run by an 11-member staff out of an office in Dallas. Thornton Hardie, the foundation’s president, has also served as the president of Rees-Jones Holdings LLC at Chief Oil & Gas LLC. His background is in tax law, and he was a 30-year tax partner with Thompson & Knight LLP before joining Chief.
- Thornton Hardie, President
- Terese Stevenson, Vicer President of Grants
- Lynn Gibson, Senior Program Officer