11 July 2017

Recognizing Champions for Charity: The Meadows Foundation

The Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) will meet with congressional leaders on July 13 to discuss issues affecting the charitable sector, such as the potential effect of tax reform on charitable giving. ACR will bring nonprofit executives from across the country to D.C. for the event entitled “Champions for Charity.”

To celebrate these philanthropic “champions,” ACR will highlight a few of the attendees and their giving in the days leading up to the event. To see previous achievement spotlights, visit the ACR blog. Today we highlight some of the work of The Meadows Foundation.

The Meadows Foundation
Dallas, Texas
The Meadows Foundation was established in 1948 to benefit the people of Texas. The foundation’s mission is to assist the people and institutions of Texas in improving the quality and circumstances of life for themselves and future generations. Since its inception, the foundation has disbursed more than $1.1 billion in grants and direct charitable expenditures to more than 3,500 Texas institutions and agencies.

South Plains Food Bank & Breedlove Foods
South Plains Food Bank (SPFB) in Lubbock, Texas, distributes food to individuals and families in need through a network of 220 nonprofits agencies and churches in a 20-county area of West Texas. In 1994, SPFB set up Breedlove Foods, a food processing plant, with the support of The Meadows Foundation and other philanthropies. Initially, Breedlove was created to dehydrate millions of pounds of surplus fresh fruits and vegetables to benefit people in SPFB’s service area. These foods have a long shelf-life, are easy to prepare with only water and heat, and supplement traditional food bank programs.

Over the years, the organization has grown and now works with dozens of partners around the world. In 2015, Breedlove’s fortified, dehydrated foods provided nutritious meals to more than 1.5 billion people in 65 countries. USAID awarded Breedlove a series of grants under its International Food Relief Program and shipped 65 million servings of food to 13 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America in 2015. Additionally, Breedlove produces a peanut-based food supplement to help prevent and treat malnutrition in children.

Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
Recognizing that people with mental illness can live productive and successful lives with necessary treatment and support, The Meadows Foundation undertook an initiative in 2011 to make systemic changes to how, when, and where Texans receive mental health care. The Foundation engaged national organizations and collaborators from across Texas to create a policy institute to provide guidance to local communities and state leaders on policies and programs that improve mental health outcomes. In 2014, The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) was formally established with a $10 million grant from The Meadow Foundation.

The institute provides quality, nonpartisan, and objective policy research and development to improve mental health services in Texas. MMHPI leverages resources at a grassroots level to share best practices, make resources available, access information, and help build protocols for those who need it most. The institute was instrumental in passing historic mental health care reforms and increasing statewide spending in the public mental health system to $7.2 billion for the 2018-19 biennium.

MMHPI also created an award-winning public awareness campaign. Okay to Say addresses the stigmas and stereotypes around mental illness that stand in the way of people getting the care they need. High profile Texans have lent their stories and encouragement of the series, including President George W. Bush, Mark Cuban, Emmitt Smith, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
Water is the most important environmental issue in Texas where demand is expected to exceed supplies as early as 2020. Water scarcity could certainly impact the state’s economy, agriculture, industry, and natural ecosystems in significant and costly ways.   With little scientific information available regarding critical water issues, Texas State University created the Rivers System Institute in 2002 with the support of a grant from The Meadows Foundation to be an unbiased resource to policymakers.

The Foundation adopted a strategic environmental plan in 2011 that recognized the River Systems Institute as the primary resource and driver to create and promote comprehensive surface and groundwater management as well as conservation strategies through research, education, stewardship, and leadership. As part of its strategic plan, the Foundation provided $5 million in a series of endowments in 2012 to the Institute to substantially increase its capacity. The Institute was renamed The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. The Foundation’s investment helped the Center leverage an additional $3.75 million in state funds and $1.275 million from other private sources to address water issues.

From its headquarters and living laboratory on Spring Lake in San Marcos, Texas, the Center’s work now extends from West Texas to West Africa. Its programs include research using unmanned aerial systems, the first baseline assessment of all the world’s transboundary water resources, and underwater archaeology.

 Use our #champs4charity hashtag to showcase American philanthropy and your support to preserve charitable giving in the days surrounding the event.