The Tull Charitable Foundation provides grant support for long-term growth and development to nonprofit organizations located in Georgia. The foundation recognizes that strong and vibrant nonprofit organizations are an essential component of any healthy community and better enable communities to provide for their residents’ health, well-being, and quality of life.
The Tull Foundation was formed with assets provided by Joseph McKeehan Tull. Born in 1878 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tull was raised, along with his sister and three brothers, in western North Carolina. He went on to attend North Carolina State College (later North Carolina State University) in Raleigh. After a year and a half of school, he left the world of formal education to embark on a career in business. An opportunity to work for the General Fire Extinguisher Company brought Tull to Atlanta in 1907. By 1914 he had opened his own business, the Southern Rubber and Supply Company, which was the precursor to the J. M. Tull Metal and Supply Company. Over the years the company expanded and became a leader throughout the Southeast.
Tull was a salesman of great skill and persuasion, as well as a man of great personal charm. He was well known for both his generosity and his level-headed business philosophy. Many southern companies struggling to survive the depression years owed their continued existence to Tull. Understanding that a failed business is a lost customer, Tull often extended unusual credit in hardship cases during this time.
Tull was also a civic leader and a strong supporter of Christian education. In 1952 he established the J. M. Tull Foundation as the charitable, giving arm of the Tull Metal Company. He and the company held firm beliefs that each citizen should feel a duty to financially support charitable and civic endeavors. Tull died in 1962, leaving his personal assets to the foundation.
When the Tull Metal Company was sold in 1985, the relationship between the company and the foundation ended, and the Tull Charitable Foundation was established as a companion to the original foundation. Eventually, the J. M. Tull Foundation merged with the Tull Charitable Foundation. It is now governed by a volunteer board of trustees, which is composed of respected leaders from the Atlanta community. The trustees continue the commitment to community service that was so highly valued by the organization’s founder.
Between 2000 and 2004 the Tull Charitable Foundation awarded a total of $18.5 million in grant funds to more than 200 organizations. For the most part, the foundation assists nonprofit organizations that address the following needs: education; youth development; and health and human services. To a lesser extent, the foundation also supports organizations that address environmental, cultural, and civic improvement needs.