During the past decade, the Foundation has funded projects related to basic science. In keeping with the wishes of Willard Eccles, much of this funding has been directed toward healthcare-related projects and/or those addressing issues related to the betterment of humanity or understanding the natural world around us. Among the largest of the Foundation’s basic sciences grants have been those to the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute, and to its Department of Physics for the creation of the Willard L. Eccles Observatory and Telescope in Southwestern Utah. This project alone has significantly upgraded the astronomy teaching program at the University of Utah, contributing significantly to the creation of five new tenure tract professorships and enabling the University to become one of the major research partners in the currently ongoing Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
Our foundation has approximately 30 projects in this focus area – all related directly to delivery of healthcare to underserved populations. Many of these grants have provided support to relatively small agencies that fulfill a specific niche in the complex fabric of healthcare delivery to those most lacking access to needed services. In addition, major grants have been awarded to emergency services at the McKay-Dee Medical Center in Ogden, Utah, the Midtown Community Health Center in Salt Lake City and Planned Parenthood of Utah.
Approximately 60 social service non-profit agencies have received the Foundation’s support. The single largest benefactor has been Your Community Connection (YCC) in Ogden, Utah, a shelter for victims of rape and domestic abuse. Approximately 60 other social service non-profit agencies have also received the Foundation’s support, the single most supported single entity being The Road Home (homeless shelter) in Salt Lake City.
In the past decade, the Foundation has contributed more than $4 million to environmental causes, with funding focused primarily on support for The Nature Conservancy of Utah and The Nature Conservancy of Oregon. These grants have been directed primarily toward land acquisition and/or retirement of grazing rights in critical habitats within both of these states. In addition, significant grants have assisted The Nature Conservancy of Idaho, The Grand Canyon Trust and The Friends of the Bear River Refuge, and other organizations in the Northwest and Intermountain West.
An initial major funding partner in the creation of the University of Utah’s new Natural History Museum of Utah, the Foundation underwrote the early feasibility study for the creation of its new home almost 15 years ago. Since then, grants totaling nearly $2 million from the Foundation have supported this extraordinary community resource, and board members remain closely involved in its continued success.
At both the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and Utah State University in Logan, Utah, Willard L. Eccles Foundation grants have provided postdoctoral fellowships that provide much-needed support for promising scholars and assist these universities in attracting the best and brightest students to Utah. Other entities receiving major support from the Foundation include the University of Utah College of Nursing and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.