The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation: Southwest Grants

OVERVIEW: Founded in 1948, the Mabee Foundation provides grants to religious organizations, charitable organizations, institutions of higher learning, and medical institutions engaged in the treatment and care of diseases. Grants are generally limited to building projects and purchase of major medical equipment within the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

FUNDING AREAS: Higher education, medical equipment, hospitals, human services, youth services

IP TAKE: The Mabee Foundation is really into challenge grants and making the final push to fund your project. Make sure to ask other foundations and donors to share in your project costs before approaching the Mabee board. This is a foundation that prefers to support prospective grantees that have already raised about 40 percent of what they need from other sources. At that point, you can outline a plan for Mabee to help you finish what you started.

PROFILE: John E. Mabee and his wife, Lottie E. Mabee established a family foundation in 1948 to aid Christian religious organizations, charitable organizations, institutions of higher learning, hospitals and other organizations of a general charitable nature.

Although the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation is based in Tulsa, the foundation’s geographical areas of interest include Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. John and Lottie were natives of Missouri. Having no children of their own, they left a sizeable portion of their estates to the foundation upon their deaths in the 1960s. John was a multi-millionaire oil operator, drilling contractor, and rancher who founded Mabee Petroleum Corporation. He was eulogized upon his death as “Oklahoma’s Mr. Philanthropy.”

Since its inception, the Mabee Foundation has awarded over $935 billion in grants. In a recent year, the foundation reported over $909million in assets and more than $34 million in total giving. Foundation grantmaking has broken down a little like this:

  • 43 percent to community activities, including Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, Girl Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, children’s homes and organizations which care for handicapped, abused and neglected children and adults
  • 34 percent to private, independent non-tax supported colleges
  • 19 percent for scientific, health and medical activities, including principally grants to hospitals and healthcare activities.
  • 4 percent for religious affiliated organizations, including seminaries, campus ministries, Christian camps and centers

Over the years, the bulk of Mabee grants have gone to the state of Texas—over $459 million since 1949. Oklahoma has seen the next greatest show of support, followed closely by Missouri and then Kansas. Arkansas and New Mexico have received the fewest Mabee grants.

Since the beginning, the foundation has also awarded more grants for education than for health, and religious grants are fewer and farther between. Past commitments included $750,000 to Kansas Wesleyan University (the final 10 percent of a $7.5 million campaign), a $500,000 challenge grant to the new White Rock YMCA location on Gaston, and a $500,000 challenge grant to Hesston College.

Check out the Grant Summaries page to search for recent grants by state.

As a general rule, the foundation does not award grants to satisfy debt, to government operated facilities, to educational institutions below the college level, or to any specific church. The Mabee Foundation doesn’t follow a standard application format, and grantseekers only need to provide a detailed application letter. Most Mabee grants are made toward building and facility construction and renovation projects and to the purchase of major medical equipment. And frequently, grants are made on a challenge or conditional basis to provide incentive for enlisting other donors. Applications can be submitted at any time of the year, and the board meets four times each year to consider grant requests. No part of the process is electronic, so you'll print out a copy and make a trip to the post office.

Grantmaking at this private foundation is managed by a board of trustees consisting of Thomas R. Brett, Ed Jones, Joe Mabee, Guy Mabee, Jr., John W. Mabee and Raymond L. Tullius, Jr. General questions about applying for a grant can be directed to the Tulsa office at 918-584-4286.


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