Home > Who We Are > History
The Dallas Foundation has long been a trusted community partner and responsible steward of our donors’ generous contributions. We have established a proven track record of investing in transformational solutions. Since the turn of the 21st century, The Dallas Foundation has cumulatively awarded more than $900 million in grants.
Concern for the community, respect for donors, thoughtful giving and careful investing – these core values have guided The Dallas Foundation since 1929. We’ve grown and changed just as Dallas has. But we remain, as always, here for good.
In 1929 a group of local business leaders established the Dallas Community Trust. Five years later, the trust received its first gift from the estate of Sigmund Mayer, establishing The Dallas Foundation’s Unrestricted Fund – now referred to as the Community Impact Fund. Since this first gift, The Dallas Foundation has continued to grow, give, and advocate for our neighbors across North Texas.
The Dallas Foundation has also been a launching pad for some of Dallas’ most well-known and impactful organizations. Social Venture Partners Dallas, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, Dallas Afterschool, Early Matters Dallas, TexProtects, and NTARUPT are stellar organizations that began their impactful journeys at the Foundation and continue their work today, transforming our community. While we co-founded some of these organizations, we continue to incubate others and bring thriving ideas to Dallas from across the nation.
Early Matters Dallas began as a fund of The Dallas Foundation and has grown into a broad-based coalition working together to raise awareness about the importance of high-quality early learning for a strong economy tomorrow and to make a strong case for increased investment in this critical, high return-on-investment area. It also represents a robust partnership with Early Matters Houston to align on data, advocacy and additional efforts to support the population of the more than one in four children in Texas that our two regions collectively represent.
The Dallas Foundation was instrumental in bringing the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) to Texas in 2005. It pairs registered nurses with first-time, low-income moms to foster the healthy development of babies, mothers and family relationships. The Foundation, under the leadership of then-chairman John Castle, worked with Madeline McClure of TexProtects, and other advocates to start a three-year, $1.5 million pilot program in Dallas County.
In 2006, The Dallas Foundation’s Board of Governors designated early childhood education and welfare as a key priority for the organization. In this same year, The Dallas Foundation collaborated with the Meadows Foundation to establish the Zero-to-Five Funders Collaborative. The Funders Collaborative ultimately led to the creation of two (now independent) organizations: Bachman Lake Together and Early Dallas Matters. Bachman Lake Together supports neighborhood children to entering kindergarten and equips parents in the Bachman Community to serve as their community’s greatest advocates. Early Matters Dallas is a coalition of corporate leaders and philanthropists working to ensure that every child in Dallas has the developmental and educational foundation needed to succeed in school.
In 2016 Bonton Farms, then a small, budding farm in a South Dallas food desert, was chosen by The Dallas Foundation to receive the 2016 Pegasus Prize. The Prize helped the organization in its mission to address the lack of access to fresh food and the health of the area’s residents. Bonton Farms founder and Executive Director Daron Babcock credits that investment and the endorsement of The Dallas Foundation for bringing along additional funding. Today, Bonton Farms operates two fully functioning farms and the Market at Bonton Farms – growing organic food and hope for a better tomorrow.
In 2017, the Louis B. and Mary Ratliff Animal Welfare Fund of The Dallas Foundation helped pay for an exhaustive study of Dallas Animal Services and the loose dog problem plaguing southern Dallas. The Dallas Foundation, through the Ratliff Fund and other funds, joined with the Rees-Jones Foundation and the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation at the Communities Foundation of Texas to underwrite a spay-neuter surge aimed at dogs in southern Dallas, while also improving public safety and the quality of life for residents.
In 1999, The Dallas Foundation helped organize what is now known as Social Venture Partners-Dallas (SVP-Dallas) after Foundation staff had researched this new approach to charitable giving which started on the West Coast and modeled after venture capital investing. The Dallas Foundation provided background research, staff time and administrative support during SVP-Dallas’ early years and served as an advocate for the burgeoning initiative. Today, SVP-Dallas is an independent organization with more than 200 partners across North Texas and a host of its own initiatives making rippling changes across our community, including an annual conference, bigBang!, which brings thought leaders, nonprofits, partners and community leaders together to focus on social innovation.
As we drive toward our centennial, we are uniquely poised to adapt to the changes our communities face as they happen. We are excited to serve our donors and the community in meaningful, innovative, and impactful ways for the next 100 years.