- Net Assets: $431,851,906 (2017)
- Grants Received: $36,665,535 (2017)
- Grants Awarded: $19,982,188 (2017)
The Park Foundation (PF) was established in 1966 by Roy Hampton Park, Sr. (1910-1993), founder of the media company Park Communications, Inc. When Mr. Park died, he bequeathed more than 70 percent of his holdings to the Foundation. Today his daughter and granddaughter serve as trustees of PF, and his widow is president emeritus. The Foundation’s grant-making programs cover the following major areas:
Higher Education: Each year, PF awards approximately 50 scholarships to undergraduate students attending Mr. Park’s alma mater, North Carolina State University, plus another 15 scholarships to undergraduates at Ithaca College; Park was a trustee at both schools.
Environment: Supporting “increased public investment in sustainable water infrastructure at state and federal levels,” PF promotes efforts to reduce bottled water consumption and “the privatization of water supplies.” The Foundation has also discouraged hydraulic fracturing and gas-drilling activities, most notably in New York State.
Animal Welfare: In an effort to “ensure the humane treatment, care and well-being of domestic animals,” PF promotes the development of low-cost spay/neuter services and public-education initiatives; strives to eradicate animal fighting practices; and seeks to protect “threatened and endangered species” of wildlife.
Media: The Foundation’s media grants are awarded for investigative journalism on public affairs; media policy initiatives that advocate “universal access to communications, a ‘neutral’ Internet, [and] diverse and independent [media] ownership”; public broadcasting programs that feature “diverse public-interest voices and perspectives”; and the production of documentary films related to “civil society and democracy, environment and animal welfare.”
Sustainable Ithaca: This program aims to help Tompkins County, New York — wherein PF’s Ithaca headquarters are located — to “become a fully sustainable community – environmentally, socially and economically.” Toward that end, PF supports energy and climate change projects designed to reduce local greenhouse-gas emissions; projects that “enhance knowledge and prevention of toxic environmental stresses and other threats to human health”; projects that promote “the use of smart growth practices, protect ecosystems, and enhance efficient transportation systems”; and projects that encourage waste reduction by means of the reuse and recycling of materials. In each of these areas, PF, which views the United States as a nation rife with social injustice, gives priority to initiatives that “utilize inclusive approaches to address racial, economic and other forms of inequality.”
Community Needs: Striving to “alleviate the impacts of poverty” for the “low-income and underserved people in Tompkins County, NY,” the Park Foundation supports programs that “serve people who are vulnerable to social and economic challenges including homelessness, food insecurity, racial inequity, poor physical and mental health outcomes, poor academic performance, school drop-out, illiteracy, and unemployment.” Many of these grants are earmarked for initiatives that increase access to child care, health care, transportation, housing, and employment. Others, meanwhile, target projects that “address … violence, abuse and neglect”; campaigns that seek to help nonwhite minority students improve their schoolwork and avoid incarceration; and programs that “support racial and ethnic diversity, cross-cultural understanding, and efforts to reduce the effects of racial inequity.”
From 1995 to 2008, PF awarded 5,077 grants totaling $328,543,330. Among the recipients of these grants were the Alliance for Justice, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Common Cause Education Fund, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Earth Action Network, Earthjustice (click here), the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Working Group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (click here), Friends of the Earth (click here), the Independent Media Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies, the Institute for Public Accuracy, Media Matters (click here), National Public Radio (click here), the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pacifica Foundation, Planned Parenthood (click here), the Proteus Fund, the Public Citizen Foundation, the Tides Center, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Waterkeeper Alliance.
PF is a member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, an association of philanthropic foundations whose priorities are to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, promote disarmament, and persuade the U.S. to drastically reduce its defense budget while earmarking more money for international humanitarian relief and economic-development programs.