The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation endeavors to “[invest] in people to improve the quality of their lives.” This mission is the driving force that has inspired Dennis and Phyllis Washington from the foundation’s birth in 1988. It reaches across Montana and into other communities touched by The Washington Companies, of which the foundation is an arm.
Dennis Washington started the Washington Companies out of a “love for machinery,” which he, according to Forbes Magazine, turned into a “group [of companies] that now includes Montana Rail Linke, which transports freight, a copper mine in Butte, and a Vancouver barge business.”
As Dennis grew The Washington Companies, Phyllis taught elementary school, and then later opened two shops dedicated to antiques and interior decorating. The foundation has continued to serve as “a platform for their personal giving and coordinate the charitable activities of The Washington Companies that also contribute to the Foundation.”
Major Program Categories: The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation’s giving is focused on supporting education, community service, arts and culture, and health and human services in Montana and other communities in which the Washington Companies operate. In each of its program areas, the foundation emphasizes projects directly serving “economically and socially disadvantaged individuals and families, at-risk or troubled youth, and individuals with special needs.”
Health and human services grant recipients have included Family Promise of Great Falls, to provide housing and basic needs to homeless children and families, and Youth Homes Inc., to do foster family outreach in Missoula.
Community service grants have been distributed to Washington Family Ranch, which the family donated to non-denominational Christian organization Young Life in 1997, for a camp that hosts around 8,000 youth every summer, and to Montana Special Olympics.
Arts and culture grants are also geared toward programs that invigorate communities, especially through programs that will benefit young people. For example, the foundation has supported the Lewistown Art Center for an after school program, and Orphan Girl Children’s Theater, which uses theater to inspire creativity in young people and their communities.
In the area of education, the foundation’s grants support projects that impact children and youth from early childhood education up through graduate-level programs. One signature program to receive this funding from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is EdReady, Montana’s iteration of curriculum from the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC), funded by the Gates Foundation.
In addition to education grants, the foundation distributes funds to individuals through five scholarship programs to support getting Montana youth access to higher education – including undergraduate and graduate programs – within the state.
How to Apply: The first step in applying for support from the foundation is to fill out a short online eligibility quiz, which you can access here. If eligible, you’ll then be referred to the foundation’s online grant-making system to create a new account and apply for a grant.
As far as eligibility, according to its website the foundation prefers “applicants who are able to demonstrate that a majority, if not all, of Foundation funds will be used for direct services. The Foundation prefers giving to organizations with low administrative costs.”
It also prioritizes organizations that provide aforementioned direct services to “economically and socially disadvantaged individuals and families, at-risk or troubled youth, and individuals with special needs.” Lastly, the eligibility guidelines note that demonstrating significant funding from “community, constituency groups or other funding sources prior to applying” by grant applicants is preferred.
Name of Foundation: Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation
Location: Missoula, Montana
Contact Information: Online form here
Coverage Area: Montana, and other communities served by The Washington Companies
Subject Area: Education, Community Service, Arts & Culture, Health & Human Services; Scholarships
Total Assets: $660,074,008 (2014)
Last Year Total Grants Paid: $24,736, 882 (2014)
Recent News and Grantmaking: