The Callaway Foundation Inc. is a private foundation that supports the charitable, religious, and educational efforts of nonprofit organizations. A related foundation, the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation, provides scholarships to individuals living in Troup County and operates Hills and Dales Estates, the former home of Fuller E. Callaway Sr. The estate was designed by architect Neel Reid, of Hentz and Reid, and completed in 1916. In 2005 the Callaway Foundation had liquid assets in excess of $190 million. It has granted more than $275 million to various organizations since 1943.
The Callaway Foundation traces its origins to the establishment of the LaGrange Settlement in 1913 and the Textile Benefit Association in 1919. Callaway Sr., an entrepreneur and businessman, organized both organizations using proceeds from the textile mills and businesses he helped to establish in west Georgia and east Alabama beginning in 1888.
From 1913 until its merger with the Textile Benefit Association in 1932, the LaGrange Settlement formalized charitable work already occurring in Callaway’s mills and mill villages and offered expanded hospital and medical services to mill workers and families. The Textile Benefit Association further expanded the charitable giving in 1919. Callaway died in 1928, but the work of the two organizations continued.
In 1943 Callaway’s son, Fuller E. Callaway Jr., established the Callaway Community Foundation, which assumed the work of the Textile Benefit Association in 1944 and owned the fixed assets of Callaway Mills. The foundation became Callaway Foundation Inc. in 1962. When Callaway Jr. sold Callaway Mills to Deering-Milliken in 1968, the proceeds from the sale of the fixed assets went to the foundation.
A board of trustees governs the Callaway Foundation. Although the mandatory retirement age is seventy, board members do not have term limits. A majority of the board members have been part of the Callaway family. H. Speer Burdette III has served as president and general manager of the foundation since January 1, 2003, succeeding J. Thomas Gresham, who served in that position from 1976 to 2002. The general manager acts as a liaison between the board of trustees and the public, investigating all requests for financial assistance from charitable, educational, and religious organizations.
Grant applications may be submitted throughout the year, and proposals are considered at quarterly board meetings. The foundation typically awards grants for one-time capital projects and special projects. Rarely are operational expenses funded.
Many organizations have benefited over the years from the philanthropy of the Callaway foundations. For much of the twentieth century, churches within the city limits of LaGrange could depend on the Callaway Foundation for half of the necessary funds for building projects. LaGrange College has been a major beneficiary. In addition to professorships, buildings, and scholarships, the college received in 1992 properties formerly belonging to the Callaway Educational Association, which had provided recreational opportunities to Callaway Mills’ employees and their families since 1944.
The LaGrange and Troup County school systems have been other beneficiaries. West Georgia Health System has also received significant foundation support. Since 1937, when it was called City-County Hospital, the system has received grants to buy new equipment, scholarships for nurses, and money for such building projects as the Georgia Heart Clinic and the Enoch Callaway Cancer Clinic.
Other nonprofit groups in Troup County to benefit from Callaway Foundation support include the Troup County Historical Society and Archives, the LaGrange Art Museum, the LaFayette Society for the Performing Arts, and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. The Callaway Foundation has made possible many organizations and arts and cultural facilities in LaGrange that are seldom found in cities of similar size.
Beyond west Georgia, the State Botanical Garden and the Visitors Center at the University of Georgia, and athletic buildings and a student center at the Georgia Institute of Technology are among the recipients of Callaway support.
Community development has been a major goal of the foundation. Much of its work in the late 1990s and early 2000s has been aimed at revitalizing downtown LaGrange. The foundation continues to be a vital force in LaGrange and Troup County.