Focus Areas

Since 1961, the Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation has supported the health of our environment, reproductive justice and the nurture of nature. We are primarily interested in making investments that benefit greater Houston, central Texas and efforts of statewide significance in Texas.

We provide different types of support, including operating, project and capital grants, and are open to providing operating and project grants for terms of up to two years at a time.

Our grantmaking reflects our belief that the well-being of humans and nature are linked. We believe that our support of nature and natural spaces; the dignity, health, worth and power of people — especially those under threat — is in direct service of the vision for a healthy and harmonious world.

With commitment, focus and a long-term vision, we invest toward environmental justice & conservation, reproductive rights & justice, parks & open space, environmental education and animal welfare.

Environmental Justice & Conservation

The health and well-being of our communities, natural spaces and critical species are inextricably linked and essential to one another. Key threats in our region include the pace and scale of new development, an expanding industrial footprint and continued reliance on gray infrastructure, all with few regulatory safeguards, contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, urban flooding, inadequate water supply, and air and water pollution. Communities of color and those with low incomes are disproportionately burdened by these environmental harms.

The Foundation invests in efforts to mitigate climate change and reduce harmful emissions; protect and steward land and water resources; and improve habitat and recover species of concern. The Foundation supports advocacy initiatives, community organizing, legal strategies and on-the-ground conservation, and values work that centers the vision and voices of those most impacted.

Reproductive Rights & Justice

Everyone should have reproductive autonomy and access to the full spectrum of reproductive care, no matter their income or the place they call home. However, access to reproductive services has become increasingly difficult, especially in Texas, and the lack of comprehensive care leads to unintended pregnancies and births. Unintended pregnancy, including teen pregnancy, is associated with a range of adverse outcomes for pregnant youth, adults, their families, and communities.

The Foundation invests in efforts to advance reproductive justice such as advocacy initiatives, community organizing and legal strategies, and values work that centers the vision and voices of those most burdened by restrictions on reproductive rights.

Parks & Open Space

Parks, trails and open spaces provide places for children, families and communities to connect with nature and each other. Parks provide opportunities for physical activity, support mental well-being and allow people to gain appreciation for the natural world. However, many residents within the Foundation’s geographies of interest do not live within the recommended 10-minute walk of a park, and there are disparities in the quality of local parks across communities.

The Foundation invests in efforts to develop and improve community parks and trail networks in the greater Houston and central Texas regions. The Foundation values park initiatives that benefit neighborhoods with a history of disinvestment, as well as efforts that engage residents in their design and implementation.

Environmental Education

Along with building critical thinking skills and improving academic achievement, environmental education enhances connections with nature and encourages future environmental stewardship. Ensuring that all children and youth have access to high-quality environmental education – particularly in the outdoors – will build knowledge, skills and motivation to tackle environmental challenges of today and tomorrow.

The Foundation invests in efforts within greater Houston and central Texas to provide highly vulnerable youth – such as those involved with the foster and justice systems, and those with disabilities – with evidence-based environmental education programs, valuing those that incorporate experiential learning, highlight local ecosystems and emphasize principles of environmental justice. In addition, the Foundation supports advocacy initiatives that will ensure high quality environmental education standards in our state, and is working to model a holistic approach toward environmental education within a defined community and school district.

Animal Welfare

To maintain a healthy ecological balance, it is vital that we protect and care for animals, both domestic and wild. However, challenges related to stray dogs and cats, animal cruelty, and pet ownership are pervasive within the Foundation’s geographic areas of interest, and the built environment and human activity present hazards to wildlife across the region.

The Foundation invests in efforts within greater Houston and central Texas intended to increase public funding and protective policies for animal welfare; ensure strong leadership and capacity within the animal welfare field; and support communities disproportionately affected by stray animals.