Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Awarded $136 Million in 2011

In its first full year of operation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, distributed a total of $136 million in grants, joining the ranks of some of the nation's largest and oldest grantmaking foundations in the country, the Star Tribune reports.

With some $3 billion in assets, the foundation of Cargill, Inc. heir Margaret Cargill focused much of its grantmaking in 2011 on environmental projects, disaster relief and recovery efforts, and animal welfare programs. The foundation plans to launch additional funding programs in support of the arts, with a focus on Native arts in the Pacific Northwest; aging services; children and families; and health initiatives.

Unlike some of its peers, the Cargill Foundation has taken special care to incorporate its founder's vision and personality into its culture through actions such as offering preferential parking to hybrid vehicles, landscaping the facility with native plants, and decorating the walls of the foundation's headquarters with photographs that illuminate its priorities. In 2011, the foundation awarded many grants to support disaster relief efforts around the globe, including efforts to assist flood victims in Pakistan as well as children in north Minneapolis who were affected by a tornado that struck the area.

"The grants we give now are just the beginning," said Christine Morse, the foundation's CEO. "How we begin is incredibly important. We're taking great pains to do things as thoughtfully as we can."

Jean Hopfensperger. "Cargill Foundation Builds Legacy Quickly, Carefully." Minneapolis Star Tribune 01/14/2012.