The Gheens Foundation, Inc. was established in 1957 by C. Edwin and Mary Jo Gheens to continue their lifelong interests in education, religious programs and human services. Mr. Gheens, a Louisville native whose father and uncle were successful in the wholesale grocery business, was the owner of a large, successful candy manufacturing company in Louisville. The family also owned a working plantation in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana which was rich in mineral resources.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Gheens were leaders in their church and active in other philanthropic, educational, and cultural endeavors in Louisville. After Mr. Gheens’ death in 1961, Mrs. Gheens selected several friends to serve as Foundation Trustees. The trustees continued to oversee the work of the Foundation after her death in 1982. At that time, foundation assets were valued at approximately $23,000,000.
The Gheens Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in Kentucky. The Trustees oversee approximately $6.5 million in grants annually. Most of the grants are made in the Louisville area and support a wide variety of endeavors, including public education, economic development, medicine, the arts and social/health services. The Gheens Foundation has distributed over $112,000,000 in charitable grants since its inception and today is valued at approximately $147,000,000.
The vision of the Gheens Foundation is to represent Edwin and Mary Jo Gheens in a manner that brings credit to their legacy. We will be mindful of the responsibilities to our communities as one of the area’s largest independent foundations. We will be distinguished by addressing the ongoing needs of the Metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky area and Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes in Louisiana while pro-actively seeking new and creative ways to have profound, long-term impact on a few selected projects in chosen fields of focus. This will be done while managing the foundation’s assets in a manner to assure long term viability.
“To improve the quality of life for all citizens and institutions of Metropolitan Louisville and Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes in Louisiana by creative grant-making and philanthropic leadership to meet the present and emerging needs of our communities.”
The mission of the Gheens Foundation will be achieved by fulfilling the following objectives:
Creative Grant Making
Grant-making will be made through understanding the present and future needs of our communities. Funding may be made currently or over a period of years, always stressing creative solutions for current problems.
Professional Management of Foundation Assets
Generally accepted sound investment management principles will be followed in the investment of Foundation assets to meet grant-making objectives while preserving and building assets for the long term.
The Foundation will exercise a leadership role in Metropolitan Louisville by encouraging cooperation with other local and national foundations and non-profit agencies.
Provide Supportive Organizational Structure
The Foundation will provide sufficient support, both human and financial, to carry out its mission and key objectives.
401 West Main Street, Suite 705 / Louisville, KY 40202/ (502) 584-4650
THE GHEENS FOUNDATION