What We Support

What We Support

Over its nearly 30-year history the Willard L. Eccles Foundation has awarded hundreds of grants – ranging in size from several hundred dollars to more than a million dollars – within its five core interest areas:

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Social Services
  • Basic Science
  • Healthcare for the Underserved

The Foundation seeks projects with the potential to simultaneously impact more than one of its five core interest areas when ever possible. Projects that involve healthcare and healthcare related issues are especially favored.

Below is a listing of the relative distribution of grants within each of our primary interest areas and selected highlights of the larger grants within each area:

Education – Approximately 35% of the Foundation’s grants in the past decade have been to education and education-related entities. The foundation was an initial major funding partner in the creation of the University of Utah’s new Natural History Museum, underwriting the initial feasibility study for the creation of its new home almost 15 years ago. Since that time, 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 supported 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 the University of Utah Honors College, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Environment – In the past decade, the Foundation has directed more than 20% of its giving to environmental related 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, as well as other organizations in the Northwest and Intermountain West.

Social Services – Since 2001, the Willard L. Eccles Foundation has directed slightly more than 15% of its gifts to social service agencies.  The single largest benefactor has been Your Community Connection (YCC) in Ogden, Utah, a shelter for victims of rape and domestic abuse.  This tradition of support began in 1986 when a sizable grant from the Foundation provided the critical seed money for construction of a much-needed new facility – now the organization’s current home.  Since that time, the Foundation has continued to be a major supporter of the YCC, providing leadership that generates community-wide interest and support from others.  Approximately 60 other social service non-profit agencies have also received the Foundation’s support.  Major recipients would include – The Road Home, a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City, and Friends of the Children, a youth mentoring program in Portland.

Basic Science – During the past decade, the Foundation has directed approximately 15% of its giving toward projects related to basic science.  In keeping with the wishes of Willard Eccles, much of this funding has been directed toward healthcare-related projects. Significant projects outside the arena of healthcare have also been supported, however.  Among the largest of the Foundation’s basic sciences grants have been those to the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute and to The University of Utah Department of Physics.  The former grant was directed primarily toward general operations at The Huntsman while the later was for the creation of the Willard L. Eccles Observatory and Telescope in Southwestern Utah.  This research quality telescope, in combination with other Foundation related Physics Department gifts, has directly resulted in a significant upgrade to the astronomy teaching program at the University of Utah and contributed directly to the creation of five new tenure tract professorships, enabling the University to become one of the major research partners in the currently ongoing Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Healthcare for the Underserved – The foundation has supported approximately 30 projects directly related to delivery of healthcare to underserved populations in the past decade.  Grants in this area have consumed approximately 10% of foundation funding. 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.

Other Community Support – Approximately 5% of grants awarded during the past 10 years have been given to a wide variety of difficult-to-classify community-based needs and organizations.  Support in this area has gone to approximately 100 different organizations. Among the larger recipients are the Salt Lake International Jazz Festival, the Salt Lake County Fire Department Search and Rescue, and the Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival.