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Robert A. Welch Foundation

Diana J. Kleiner General

The Robert A. Welch Foundation, based in Houston, was named for Houston businessman Robert Alonzo Welch, who died on December 27, 1952, leaving an estate valued at more than $29 million, of which $25 million was used to form the foundation. His will provided for the establishment of a nonprofit foundation, originally designated for use in Texas to foster and encourage chemical research. Though Welch had asked that the fund be called the Houston Foundation, it was named for him after his death. By 1991 the foundation, established in September 1954, had supported projects at fifty-three Texas colleges and universities, had about $320 million in assets, and was among the ten largest foundations in Texas. In the early 1990s Welch Foundation resources were used to fund basic research in many areas, with the majority of its grants supporting projects in biochemistry, physical chemistry, and organic chemistry. Major beneficiaries of the foundation have included institutions in the University of Texas System, notably the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Other major grantees have included Texas A&M University, Rice University, Prairie View A&M University, the University of Houston, Baylor University, and Texas Southern University. The Welch Foundation sponsors chairs in chemistry in numerous Texas educational institutions, supports a scholarship program for high school students, and funds lectureships and conferences on chemical research.

James Anthony Clark, A Biography of Robert Alonzo Welch (Houston: Clark, 1963). Houston Metropolitan Research Center Files, Houston Public Library. Marguerite Johnston, Houston, The Unknown City, 1836–1946 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Post World War II


  • Houston

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

Diana J. Kleiner, “Robert A. Welch Foundation,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 19, 2020,

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