The James Graham Brown Foundation was built by a man whose background and passion guide the organization’s principles and grants to this day. James Graham Brown was a lumberman, horseman and entrepreneur, but ultimately, he was a Kentuckian who cared. At his heart, he was no different from the grant seekers that the Foundation supports today: an inspired citizen armed with innovative ideas and a desire to improve the success and perception of Louisville and Kentucky. This enthusiasm for his community was evident in all aspects of his life.
As a philanthropist, he sought to better Louisville in every possible way, helping establish the Louisville Zoo, assisting in acquiring the necessary land to expand the University of Louisville and aiding the founding of the city’s first blood bank for the American Red Cross.
As a developer, he left no stone unturned, building the famous Brown Hotel, Kentucky Towers and the Commonwealth Building. In his everyday life, he was a visionary always in pursuit of a good time: he loved horse-racing and served on the Board of Directors for Churchill Downs for most of his life.
Mr. Brown formally created the James Graham Brown Foundation in 1954. Brown was a self-made man, and after earning a fortune primarily from the timber industry, he dedicated his wealth to the Foundation, cementing his legacy as a philanthropist and ensuring that the Commonwealth would continue to grow and flourish even in his absence. Since 1954, the Foundation has awarded nearly 4,000 grants totaling more than $550,000,000.
In the twenty-nine years that I’ve worked here, the staff and trustees have dedicated significant time to determining the best way to bring about the change that Mr. Brown hoped to see. As I’m writing this note, the foundation is embarking on a new strategic journey that I hope will take our positive, lasting impact within the state to new heights. We see an investment in lifelong learning, community and economic development, and an elevated quality of life as the keys to creating a Kentucky that reaches its fullest potential.
We know that Mr. Brown’s vision for Louisville and Kentucky certainly can’t be realized by this organization alone. However, we do believe that philanthropy and, more broadly, the independent sector can radically affect the wellbeing of our fellow Kentuckians. This sector is afforded a rare privilege: the ability to utilize inspired, flexible and creative approaches to philanthropy as its driving force. This type of dynamic optimism is vital to any society that aims to improve the quality of life of its citizens. My role as President and CEO of the James Graham Brown Foundation, then, is to bring this hope into reality.
More than ever, our foundation is working to serve as partners with the nonprofit community in this endeavor, rather than mere funders. We want to help you meet the evolving needs of the community and we hope you’ll help us do the same. We want to strengthen our nonprofit community, helping it to become a resilient, thriving sector because we know that our state and our city will only excel when its nonprofits excel. I look forward to working with smart, outcomes-driven nonprofit organizations that believe, as Mr. Brown did over sixty years ago, that a flourishing, vibrant Kentucky is within reach.
ENDOWMENT VALUE AND SPENDING: YEAR OVER YEAR
SPENDING BY AREA OF IMPACT: 2017
As of October 2017
Does your organization have an idea that aligns with our mission to bring about transformational change in Louisville and throughout Kentucky? We would love to hear more about it. Begin a dialogue with us and learn more about the Foundation’s process of empowering citizens to improve the quality of life and well-being of all Kentuckians.