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GEORGE FOUNDATION

GEORGE FOUNDATION. The George Foundation was established by Albert and Mamie George in 1945 as a private charitable trust for "religious, charitable, and/or education purposes....[primarily] for the use and benefit of the people of Fort Bend County." Albert P. George (1873–1955) and Mamie E. George (1877–1971) had no immediate heirs; they began the foundation to continue their tradition of philanthropic giving. A large ranch inherited from Mamie's family provided the wealth that enabled the establishment of the foundation. The ranch was settled in 1824 by Henry Jones, one of the Old Three Hundred colonists, and was expanded by his daughter, Mary M. (Polly) Ryon, and by her son-in-law, J. H. P. Davis. Davis's daughter, Mamie, married Albert P. George in 1896, and inherited about a third of the Ryon-Davis ranch. The Georges expanded their ranching activities to include more than 22,000 acres of land. Two oil and gas fields were discovered on the ranch in 1923 and 1931, supplementing its income from cattle. Beginning with an initial contribution of $10,000 in 1945, the Georges built the assets of the foundation through cattle sales. Donations of $495,000 from the foundation during its first five years funded the 1947 establishment of the Polly Ryon Memorial Hospital in Richmond. Upon the death of Albert George on April 4, 1955, his half of the family's assets-$3.9 million-were transferred to the foundation. The George Foundation received the assets of Mamie George's estate-an additional $5.6 million-upon her death in 1971. By 1993, the foundation's assets had grown to $73.8 million, about 35 percent of which was the value of its farm and ranch lands. Income to the foundation totaled $4.3 million in 1993 and came from 1) interest and dividends (52 percent); 2) oil and gas royalties (35 percent); 3) crop and cattle leases (11 percent); and 4) miscellaneous (2 percent).

The George Foundation between 1947 and 1993 made more than $52 million in grants to organizations in the following areas of focus: 1) medical and health ($20,482,548); 2) community service ($14,168,277); 3) museums and parks ($8,744,376); 4) education ($7,439,362); 5) scientific ($1,038,071); 6) religion ($487,500); 7) theater and arts ($88,276). Grants from the foundation have had a major impact on Fort Bend County. The foundation has funded capital projects for education, health care, preservation, recreation, and human services, and has also made available operating grants, matching funds, and scholarships. Major projects and organizations supported by the foundation have included the Polly Ryon Memorial Hospital, the George Memorial Library, the T. W. Davis Memorial Park, the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, the Fort Bend County Museum Association, the City of Richmond parks, and the Fort Bend County Courthouse restoration. Other major projects funded have included Brazos Bend State Park's George Observatory and Challenger Center, the Richmond State School, the Fort Bend Family Health Center, the Fort Bend Independent School District, and the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast. The George Foundation has established financial-aid programs for Fort Bend County students to nineteen colleges and universities in Texas. In addition, the foundation, in conjunction with the Fort Bend Museum Association, has developed a major outdoor museum-the George Ranch Historical Park-on the 480-acre headquarters of the family ranchlands. The foundation is governed by a five-member board of trustees, who serve staggered ten-year terms. A professional staff manages foundation assets, operations, and grant programs. In 1995 the George Foundation, based in an office in downtown Richmond, continued its focus on Fort Bend County charities. It has also funded projects in other areas, when benefits to Fort Bend residents or interests are demonstrated. An annual report is available that describes the foundation's giving priorities and grant-application process.

Michael R. Moore

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Michael R. Moore, "GEORGE FOUNDATION," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/vrg02), accessed December 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.