The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation

Although Robert W. Woodruff was known to many as the president of The Coca Cola Company; to his family and friends he was known as a generous but quiet giver.

In 1937, Robert W. Woodruff expanded his philanthropic efforts by creating the Trebor Foundation with the purpose of enriching his hometown of Atlanta. In 1985, the foundation was renamed the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation in honor of Woodruff’s legacy. Woodruff was a businessman, philanthropist and the president of The Coca Cola Company for more than 30 years. In civic life, Woodruff enjoyed giving anonymously to Atlanta, as part of his vision to transform Atlanta from a railroad town into a world-class city.

Today, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation continues Woodruff’s vision to improve the quality of life in Georgia. The foundation makes grants in six general program areas: health, education, environment, human services, arts and culture and community development. In an effort to fulfill its mission, the Woodruff Foundation supports “well-established institutions and projects with strong leadership and support.” The types of programs supported by the Woodruff Foundation include academic research in higher education, preservation of local parks and accessibility to quality healthcare.

Major Program Categories

The foundation’s major program categories are health, education, environment, human services, arts and culture and community development. According to its website, the foundation generally prefers not to be the only funder for a project, but to participate with the community in supporting initiatives led by others.

As an arts enthusiast himself, Woodruff believed arts was a vital part of a thriving city. To fulfill Woodruff’s mission, the foundation gives capacity-building grants to cultural organizations with significant audiences. Similarly, the foundation’s community development program area also works to maintain Woodruff’s vision of a thriving city by supporting community-led projects that strengthen metro Atlanta. More than a fourth of the foundation’s funding goes to community development and arts and culture initiatives. In 2016, the foundation gave over $37 million to such initiatives.

In its grantmaking to improve health and well-being in Georgia, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has focused funding on the development of cutting-edge academic research, increasing access to affordable healthcare for underserved populations in Atlanta, and supporting human services programs that address child welfare and intervention programs. In 2015, the foundation supported the Boys & Girls Club of America by providing funding for its “Great Future’s Campaign” that addresses the out-of-school crisis. The foundation hopes its investments will improve access to health systems and create stable homes for children in Georgia.

The greatest portion of the foundation’s funding goes toward education. In 2016, the foundation committed to giving $30 million to the University of Georgia for the improvement of faculty research and hands-on learning opportunities. The foundation’s gift is part of its focus to invest in Georgia’s private colleges and public research universities. More importantly, the foundation’s investments in research are not limited to the educational field. The foundation also focuses on research for the environment by funding organizations like the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center. The foundation hopes these grants will aid in the preservation of local parks.

How to Apply

To apply one can submit a proposal describing the organization with its mission, history and proposed initiative. The application also requires a budget, a list of board members, and an IRS determination letter. Grants are limited to organizations located and operating in metro Atlanta. The foundation will occasionally consider grants for significant institutions and initiatives in communities throughout Georgia.

More about the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and the grant making guidelines can be found here.

Name of the Foundation: Robert W. Woodruff Foundation

Location: Atlanta, Georgia


Contact Information: Phone 404-522-6755 7026; email

Coverage Area: Georgia

Subject Area: health, education, environment, human services, arts and culture and community development

Total Assets: $3,014,843,967 (2016)

Last Year Total Grants Paid: $141,941,856 (2016)

Recent News & Grantmaking:

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Marisol Zarate
About Marisol Zarate 16 Articles
Marisol Zarate is a summer intern for Fostering Media Connections. She is a rising senior at Stanford University majoring in urban studies. After graduation, she aspires to attend law school and become a public defender.