If character is defined by what we do when no one is looking, then Art Pope’s character is defined by his philanthropic work over the past 25 years. With little fanfare, both personally and through the John William Pope Foundation, Art has given away tens of millions of dollars to organizations that seek to empower individuals, expand opportunity, and protect human dignity.
The goal is to help human beings flourish, to play a small role in providing greater equality of opportunity and the freedom to pursue those opportunities. Art’s philanthropic vision is rooted in meeting real human needs, both in the short-term, through humanitarian aid, and in the long-term, through liberty-oriented organizations that foster a freer, more prosperous society so that individuals have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
Art is concerned with the whole person. That’s why he supports the arts, which nurture the soul, and educational institutions, which nurture the mind. When individual lives improve, society as a whole improves as well.
While Art gives to many organizations, the theme through all of them is freedom, opportunity, and prosperity. Whether giving scholarships to Eagle Scouts, founding public policy organizations, or supporting the arts in North Carolina, Art has been a largely silent force extending opportunity throughout the community.
The Pope Foundation’s giving falls into four major categories: Public policy, education, humanitarian, and the arts. The following are examples of grants for the 2014-15 fiscal year:
- John Locke Foundation ($2,550,000)
- Civitas Institute ($1,080,000)
- N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law ($100,000)
- Pope Center for Higher Education Policy ($542,800)
- NCSU — Public Choice, Law, & Economics ($85,200)
- Duke University — History of Political Economy ($175,000)
- Institute for Humane Studies* ($655,000)
- Raleigh Charter High School ($25,000)
- Occoneechee Boy Scouts Council ($40,000)
- Alliance Medical Ministry ($20,000)
- Prevent Child Abuse N.C. ($25,000)
- StepUp Ministry* ($50,000)
- H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library of Vance County ($15,000)
- Urban Ministries of Wake County ($10,000)
- Transitions LifeCare ($100,000)
- UNC Horizons ($25,000)
- Habitat for Humanity, Wake County ($20,000)
- Carolina Ballet ($135,000)
- N.C. Symphony ($25,000)
- N.C. Theatre ($35,000)
- N.C. Opera ($15,000)
- Kidznotes ($10,000)
- NC Museum of Art ($10,000)
*Includes giving to multiple projects within the organization.
- In 2006, Campbell University broke ground on the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center, named after Art’s late brother and funded in large part by the Pope Foundation in John’s memory. Grants for the center totaled $4.5 million.
- In 2009, the Pope Foundation gave $1.2 million to support Campbell’s new law school building in downtown Raleigh.
- The Pope family’s gifts to UNC-Chapel Hill have been numerous, most recently including a 2014, $1.3 million gift to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- In 2007, Art received the Herman W. Lay Memorial Award from the Association of Private Enterprise Educators. The award recognizes individuals who represent the best that our free-enterprise system produces.
- In 2009, Art received the Thomas Roe Award, an annual tribute from State Policy Network recognizing the achievements of those who further the free-market cause.
- The Pope Foundation’s 25th anniversary dinner was a fundraiser for StepUp Ministry, a nonprofit that empowers low-income individuals to break the poverty cycle. All proceeds from ticket sales for the dinner went to StepUp — nearly $300,000 total. In the 2014-15 FY, the Pope Foundation made additional giving to help StepUp Ministries fund a statewide expansion project.