The Summerlee Foundation was founded in 1988 by Dallas philanthropist Annie Lee Roberts as a private nonprofit charitable foundation whose purpose is to support animal protection and the preservation of Texas history. She was married to businessman and philanthropist Summerfield G. Roberts. Governed by a seven-member Board of Directors and administered by a staff of three, the Summerlee Foundation is headquartered in Dallas. Through 2020 more than $45 million has been granted to both animal protection and Texas history causes.
The Summerlee Foundation’s animal program has assisted a wide variety of projects, including second chances for companion animals, increased knowledge and protection of wild carnivores, sanctuary and refuge. Collectively, the foundation has sought to alleviate fear, pain and suffering in countless animals’ lives, advanced and expanded the rights of all non-human animals, defended the laws that protect them, and created new policies and programs to address new grievances against them. One of the significant programs established by the Summerlee Foundation is the Annie Lee Roberts Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) fund, established in 1988 and administered by the Humane Society of the United States, to address cases of emergency animal cruelty.
The Texas History Program has embraced a broad and diverse group of projects from all regions of Texas. These projects have included the disciplines of archaeology, archives, libraries, media, museums, middle and secondary schools, higher education, preservation, publications and scholarly research. The foundation underwrote the work of the Summerlee Commission on Texas History, which in 1991 conducted a needs assessment for Texas history studies and teaching. In 2015, the foundation sponsored the Summerlee Commission on the Financial Sustainability of History Organizations. The resulting report analyzed the difficulties that history organizations of all types face in maintaining financial sustainability and includes several instructional chapters for helping organizations to navigate difficult times.
The Summerlee Foundation is an active member of local, state, and national animal and history organizations and national and regional philanthropy organizations, including Animal Grantmakers, the Texas State Historical Association, Texas Association of Museums, and Philanthropy Southwest.