Giving a fish to a man, or teaching him how to fish, are important steps in helping the less fortunate. But they are not sufficient to create a prosperous economy. A critical ingredient is protecting the right of men and women to fish in the first place — to own and control the fruits of their own labor, to create wealth for their families and for others in society.

To meet those ends, a strong understanding must be advanced about the United States’ tradition of a free-market economy under the rule of law. The John William Pope Foundation supports dozens of public-policy groups, in North Carolina and nationally, that defend the American tradition of free enterprise and entrepreneurship.

What motivates that support? Family tradition. In 1949, John William Pope, recently returned from World War II and newly married, took over five discount-variety stores in eastern North Carolina started by his father. Over the next five decades, Pope grew the business into Variety Wholesalers Inc., a network of stores serving 300 communities across the southeast and employing thousands.

The blessings of a free market economy enabled the Pope family to build a prosperous business and, in turn, establish a foundation that has donated tens of millions to the betterment of North Carolinians. Those funds would not have been available without the American tradition of entrepreneurship that allowed Variety Wholesalers to succeed.

In our support for public-policy philanthropy, the central mission of the Pope Foundation is to ensure that the same economic liberties that were available to the Pope family are passed on to future generations. At its core, that philosophy is about people — enriching their lives and communities and strengthening the foundations of a free society for posterity.

Principles

Four key principles guide the Pope Foundation in our public policy work:

  • A free-market economy, under the rule of law, is the best conduit to bring the greatest amount of prosperity to the highest number of people.
  • Successful businesses have a duty to reinvest their profits not only in the company, but also in directly aiding their communities through philanthropic giving.
  • All of society benefits when businesses are allowed to grow in a free-market economy. New individuals are employed, and new products are brought to those who would otherwise lack access to them.
  • A free and prosperous nation cannot function without individual responsibility and initiative.

Investments

The Foundation invests in over 25 state and national public policy organizations that defend free-market values. Gifts to public policy causes have totaled over $60 million during the last 25 years. Examples of the organizations that we support include:

How to Apply

Click here for information on the application process.

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