G. Staley Cates

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Southeastern Asset Management

FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, Human Services, Memphis community 

OVERVIEW: G. Staley Cates serves as director and chairman of The Poplar Foundation, a charitable vehicle whose grantmaking strongly supports Memphis-area organizations. Education is a top cause, as are outfits that bolster the Memphis community in areas like community development and job creation. 

BACKGROUND: G. Staley Cates graduated with a BBA in finance from University of Texas in 1986. He serves as serves as President, CIO and portfolio manager of Southeastern Asset Management, a Memphis, Tennessee-headquartered firm founded by O. Mason Hawkins. Cates is also a minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. 


EDUCATION & YOUTH: Poplar Foundation Executive Director Tom Marino once said that "There is no one answer to the dilemma faced by Memphis...There are multiple answers to this problem. If we find the right people to work with, we say yes to Catholic schools, yes to Christian schools, yes to charter schools, and yes to traditional public schools. The common denominator is great leadership.” The Poplar Foundation's grantmaking heavily features schools and advocacy organizations. Big winners include Collegiate School of Memphis, whose mission is to "prepare young ladies and gentlemen for college success within a highly structured, nurturing, Christian environment"; Memphis Teacher Residency, a faith-based teacher preparation program; Teach For America - Memphis; and Soulsville Charter School.

Cates, via Poplar Foundation, has also supported places like Catholic Memphis Urban Schools; Streets Ministries, which deals with youth social services; Vision Preparatory Charter School; Frayser Community Schools; and Urban Youth Initiative. Outside Tennessee, Poplar has given grants to Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City. 

MEMPHIS COMMUNITY: The Poplar Foundation's grantmaking also supports human services. Issues like community development, civic space, and job creation are prioritized. Grantees have included Advance Memphis, Clean Memphis, Mid-South Minority Business Council, and Binghampton Development Corporation. A big winner here is Hope Christian Community Foundation, one of the largest Christian community foundations in the country. Hope has received tens of millions from Poplar. 

LOOKING FORWARD: Cates is still young and engaged in business but expect him, along with Hawkins, to continue to heavily prioritize the Memphis community in their grantmaking. It's worth noting that Hawkins' Pyramid Peak Foundation, which lists the same address as Poplar, has pumped close to $100 million into the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis in recent years. 


The Poplar Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch but below is contact information: 

The Poplar Foundation
6410 Poplar Ave., Ste. 720
Memphis, TN 38119
Telephone: (901) 818-5195

Contact: Thomas M. Marino, Exec. Dir.