The Cullen Foundation, of Houston, was established on March 31, 1947, by Hugh Roy Cullen and his wife, Lillie C. Cullen, to be devoted wholly to public charitable purposes in Texas. Before the establishment of the foundation, the Cullens had made large gifts to the University of Houston, Texas Medical Center,Baylor University College of Medicine, and Texas Southern University, as well as significant contributions to the Houston Symphony Society, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, and other organizations. The donors designated three trustees at the time the foundation was established. The trust indenture provided for succession of trustees and for an increase in the number of trustees to five upon the death of the last to die of the donors. The foundation, when established, held $10,000 in cash, together with South Texas oil properties.
The University of Houston, to which Mr. and Mrs. Cullen personally gave significant contributions, has been the largest single beneficiary of the foundation. By 1983 the foundation had made grants totaling $136,137,000 to charity, education, medicine, and other causes in sums ranging from $1,000 to $7 million. In 1989 the foundation had assets of $159,358,629 and income of $19,750,928. Grants for 1989 were $6,399,438, ranging from $5,000 to $1 million to Briarwood-Brookwood, Incorporated. By year-end 2014, the foundation had made grants totaling $462 million to charity, education, medicine, and other causes in sums ranging from $1,000 to $30 million. The assets of the foundation as of December 31, 2014, were approximately $280 million.