Foundation primed for big 2016; Another big year could be ahead after record $21.4M given in 2015

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015

After its biggest year ever in terms of dollars given to the community, The Hormel Foundation appears primed for a big 2016.

The Hormel Foundation announced Tuesday that it will give $7.8 million in grants — a 10 percent increase — to Austin area organizations as part of its annual contribution budget in 2016. That comes after the Foundation reached a record high of giving $21.4 million to the community this year with the main recipient being The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, largely for its expansion.



The $21.4 million given in 2015 included the annual contributions budget of $7.1 million, plus another $14.3 million of other spending that included $3.4 million toward Vision 2020 projects and $8.7 million toward The Hormel Institute expansion.

Email newsletter signup

Foundation Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Sheri Dankert said that there could be similar spending above the $7.8 million contributions budget in 2016.

Not only is the Foundation primed to give additional funds to the Institute expansion, it’s also set to give a significant portion of the $5 million pledged to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s project to build a new interpretive center, which should break ground next spring. And from her involvement with Vision 2020’s steering committee, Dankert sees many of its projects progressing and likely to seek funds in 2016.

“I just see that there’s going to be a lot of activity out of Vision 2020,” she said. “We’re in the meat of it right now.”

A tradition of giving

Through its contributions budget, the Foundation traditionally supports 12 qualifying organizations, 10 of which are represented on the Foundation’s board of directors, including Austin Area Foundation, Austin Community Scholarship Committee, Austin Public Schools, Cedar Valley Services, the city of Austin, Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin, Austin Salvation Army, The Hormel Institute, United Way of Mower County and YMCA of Austin. Additionally, Austin Community Charitable Fund and Riverland Community College-Austin are receiving organizations.

“These organizations and their unique missions in serving the people of our community are core strengths of Austin,” Foundation Chairman Gary Ray said in a press release. “They each have tremendous needs and demands for their services and we are pleased to support and partner with them.”

The Hormel Institute, a world-renowned cancer research center, is the biggest recipient of The Hormel Foundation’s annual contributions, as established by a 1942 agreement between the University of Minnesota and The Hormel Foundation. Due to the Foundation’s support, 100 percent of every research donation to The Hormel Institute’s cancer research is used for that purpose.

The Hormel Foundation gave a $23 million grant toward the expansion of The Hormel Institute. This includes $13.5 million for 20 new state of the art research labs, $1.5 million for a high-tech Live Learning Center/Auditorium and up to $8 million for the recruitment of new leading scientists and outfitting of labs to expand the medical research of The Hormel Institute.

Since 1941, The Hormel Foundation has given $136.9 million to the Austin area.

Established by Hormel Foods Corp.’s founder George A. Hormel and his son, Jay C. Hormel, one of The Hormel Foundation’s purposes is to serve as a charitable organization to benefit the Austin community. Its first contribution in 1941 was for $10, and its annual contributions to the community have grown steadily and significantly over the years.

The Hormel Foundation ranks fifth in annual giving among Minnesota’s largest community/public foundations, with those in the lead located in the Twin Cities, according to the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

Driven by Hormel Foods

The Hormel Foundation’s contributions are a direct result from the dividend increases of Hormel Foods Corp.’s common stock — the Foundation’s main asset.

“Hormel Foods Corp.’s continuing success and growth directly leads to significant, yearly contributions that benefit our community in many ways through The Hormel Foundation,” Ray said in the release. “We can all be very grateful for the vision and philanthropy of George A. and Jay C. Hormel in establishing the Foundation in a way that provides support to important, meaningful programs locally.”

The Hormel Foundation also provides significant support for Austin’s Vision 2020 projects, which aim to improve the city in different ways.

“Vision 2020 is a community initiative in which The Hormel Foundation is proud to be a major supporter,” Ray said in the release. “The committees, formed in spring 2012, are making major progress, and we look forward to being part of building a better community for everyone.”

Dankert, who started with the Foundation about a year ago, said it’s great to be involved with the Foundation’s giving.

“This is a really great place to work,” she said. “I’m just so excited to be here. It’s incredible to watch the impact we can on the city of Austin via these donations. It’s a lot of fun.”

The Hormel Foundation also serves as trustee for the Geo. A. Hormel Testamentary Trust, which will provide $65,000 in additional contributions in 2016 to benefit 24 organizations in Austin and greater Mower County such as Hormel Historic Home, Girl Scouts, Math Masters, Mower County Humane Society and the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Since its formation in 1946, the trust has given more than $3.2 million to the Austin area.

Austin-area nonprofit organizations interested in applying for a grant from The Hormel Foundation may submit an application only available online during June, July and August, with completed applications due by Sept. 1, 2016. To qualify for funding, the request must come from a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in or affecting the Austin area. Applications only will be accepted online through the Foundation’s website: