Lyndhurst moves ahead with smaller endowment

Lyndhurst moves ahead with smaller endowment

September 2nd, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Local Regional News

The headquarters building of the Lyndhurst Foundation is located at 517 Oak St. in downtown Chattanooga.


The Lyndhurst Foundation identifies and invests in initiatives, institutions, people and programs that contribute to the long-term livability and resilience of the greater Chattanooga region. The foundation will accomplish this mission by focusing its efforts on education, conservation, arts, culture, economy, urban design and development, neighborhood revitalization and physical health.

Source: Lyndhurst Foundation

The Lyndhurst Foundation has launched its new, slimmed-down grantmaking cycle, having shed $50 million, or 30 percent, from what was once a $170 million endowment.

Instead of making grants throughout a five-state region, Lyndhurst primarily will focus on the 16 counties surrounding Chattanooga in three states, said Bruz Clark, president of Lyndhurst.

"The region that we'll be working in corresponds pretty closely to the area that has been identified in the regional growth plan," Clark said.

Starting this fall, Lyndhurst will award about $4.5 million per year, a 30 percent reduction from prior years.

The Chattanooga foundation primarily was funded through the fortune of the late Coca-Cola bottler John T. "Jack" Lupton and was forced to restructure after his death once the estate was distributed to Lupton's heirs.

Continuing to run Lyndhurst with Lupton's descendants on the board was "unworkable," the organization found, and would "dilute Lyndhurst's traditional focus on Chattanooga and its surrounding region," according to a news release.

The $50 million funded five spin-off foundations created by Lupton's family, many of whom live outside Chattanooga. By parting ways with the family, Lyndhurst was able to retain its focus on the Chattanooga area, officials said.

While the geographic focus has shifted, the traditional focus on local growth won't change much.

"Chattanooga has changed a lot recently, and we are embracing that regional scope," said trustee Peggy Townsend.

The foundation will retain its mission to fund education, conservation, arts, culture, the economy, urban design and neighborhood revitalization and will add a new focus on physical health.

"That has not been an explicit category for us in the past, and we are deliberating how we can get involved in a meaningful way in that area," Clark said.

It replaces what was once an "other" category in Lyndhurst's mission statement, as well as a program that allowed trustees to pursue their own initiatives, he said.

Lyndhurst won't be raising money the traditional way to replenish its depleted coffers, but it could benefit from an improving economy, he added.

"We are dependent upon our investment performance to increase our endowment," Clark said. "It'll just be a matter of having good returns."