The Grants Committee makes grants to both animal protection organizations and to individual scholars pursuing work consistent with the goals of the Trust founders. Organizations may receive funds for general operating expenses or for specific projects. Doctoral or post-doctoral candidates may receive funds to support a specific research project. These funds must be distributed through an organization or institution with 501(c)3 status.
The Trust founders were William and Charlotte Parks a wonderful couple with a great devotion to animal welfare. When they first started discussing what sort of legacy they might leave, they were living just outside York, Maine and were already in their seventies. Charlotte had long been an animal activist (before that term was widely used!) and corresponded extensively with organizational representatives like John Walsh of WSPA, Dr. Barbara Orlans of the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, Dr. Michael Fox of The Humane Society of the United States, Jim Mason of Animal’s Agenda Animal Rights Network, Robert Brown of Food Animal Concerns Trust and myself Andrew Rowan, then at Tufts University. These were the individuals who comprised the first Grants Committee of the Trust.
Charlotte was interested in a wide range of animal issues and brought a keen intellect and no-nonsense approach. She was a generous benefactor but she wanted to understand how the monies would be used and how they would improve the status of animal welfare. All of us felt it was a great privilege to interact with Charlotte and William and we welcomed her questions and support.
The big challenge for Charlotte and William as they determined how to set up their Trust was to ensure that the funds would continue to be used to support projects of which they would have approved had they been alive to personally consider them. The solution they came up with was to identify six organizations doing the sort of work they supported and allocate some of the Trust’s annual giving to those six. The remaining funds (50% of those available each year) would then be dispersed by representatives of those organizations to projects that met the objectives laid out in the Trust document.
William and Charlotte Parks devised an excellent mechanism to ensure that the funds would go to appropriate projects. A number of other trusts established to support animal welfare before and since the Parks Trust’s formation have not honored their founders’ wishes. The Parks Trust, on the other hand, despite many changes in the membership of the Grants Committee, continues to support animal welfare projects and ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the intentions of William and Charlotte Parks are honored.