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The Atlantic Philanthropies


Last Updated: 2016-02-08

At A Glance

The Atlantic Philanthropies

75 Varick St., 17th Fl.

New York City, NY United States 10013-1917

Telephone: (212) 916-7300


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2012-12-31)

Assets: $2,219,468,000

Total giving: $521,711,000



Additional Contact Information

International addresses: (Australia) 12 Waters Rd., Ste. 106, Neutral Bay, New South Wales 2089 Australia, tel: 61-2-9953-1155, fax: 61-2-9953-1113; (Bermuda) Sterling House, 16 Wesley St. P.O. Box HM 1742, 3rd Fl., Hamilton HM GX, Bermuda, tel.: (441) 295-4896, fax: (441) 295-4897; (Great Britain) 49 Albemarle St., London W1S 4JR, England, tel.: 44-20-7290-1280, fax: 44-20-7290-1281; (Northern Ireland) 1 Lanyon Quay, Belfast, BT1 3LG, Northern Ireland, tel.: 44-28-9023-2500, fax: 44-28-9023-2225; (Republic of Ireland) Tara House, 32 Lower Baggot St., Dublin 2, Ireland, tel.: 353-1-676-2121, fax: 353-1-676-3684; (South Africa) Cradock Heights, 2nd Fl., 21 Cradock Ave., Rosebank 2196, Johannesburg, South Africa, tel:. 27 11-880-0995, fax: 27 11-880-0809; (Viet Nam) No. 20 - Lang Khoa Hoc Ngoc Khanh, 535/2 Kim Ma St., Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, tel.: 84 4-771-9885, fax: 84 4-771-9741; (Washington, DC) 1200 G St., NW, 8th Fl., Washington, DC 20005, tel: 202-842-9202, fax: 202-434-8707


Established in 1982 - The American businessman Charles “Chuck” F. Feeney established The Atlantic Philanthropies in Bermuda in 1982. Born in 1931 to an Irish-American family from New Jersey, following service with the USAF, Feeney went on to study hotel management at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Feeney made his fortune in the duty-free business, co-founding Duty Free Shoppers (DFS). Based at ports and airports, DFS rode the post-World War II boom in tourism to become the largest retailer of luxury goods in the world. By the time Forbes magazine listed Feeney as the world's 23rd richest man in 1988, he had transferred all his business interests to the foundation keeping approximately $5 million to live on. Feeney was the biggest charitable donor in American history up to that point The Atlantic Philanthropies consist of the Atlantic Foundation and the Atlantic Trust, both domiciled in Bermuda; several smaller philanthropies based variously in Bermuda, Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States; and regional service companies that select and evaluate potential grant recipients, oversee grants once awarded, and manage the endowment. Active grantmaking is expected to be completed by 2016 and the grantmaker should close its doors by 2020. Charles F. Feeney, founder of the Atlantic Philanthropies, has committed to The Giving Pledge, and has pledged to give away at least half of his wealth to philanthropy.

Purpose and Activities

The purpose of The Atlantic Philanthropies is to bring about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. It is committed to making improvements in the lives of people who need change the most. Together with their grantees, the foundation endeavors to make lasting changes for people who are disadvantaged by their economic situation, race, nationality, gender, age, disabilities, immigration status, sexual orientation, political affiliation or religion. Atlantic supports lasting change by: 1) Addressing the root causes of inequity rather than symptoms; 2) Focusing on advocacy for change rather than filling gaps in services; 3) Funding efforts to challenge policies and institutions that systematically exclude or disadvantage people; 4) Building on the strengths of individuals, organizations, communities and movements to advocate on their own behalf and on behalf of others; 5) Supporting institutions and investing in leaders who can work for progressive change over decades; 6) Working in partnership with government, whenever it can advance our goals and those of the organizations we support; 7) Supporting selected capital projects where the physical environment is a critical element of furthering our social justice mission. In keeping with the Giving While Living philosophy of founder, Feeney, Atlantic believes in making large investments to help solve urgent social problems now, so they are less likely to become larger, more entrenched and more expensive challenges later. To that end, Atlantic will become the largest foundation in history to spend down its endowment, and will close its doors by 2020 .

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:


The foundation believes that all older adults have the right to health and economic security as well as to advocate for a better quality of life for themselves and others. In the three countries where the Ageing Program operates – Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United States – many older adults confront social and economic challenges that limit their full participation in society and impede their ability to enjoy sound health and economic security. To improve the lives of these older adults, Atlantic believes it is essential to identify and address specific structural barriers and support older adults and others who are challenging them and advocating for change. The Ageing Program focuses on key issues confronting older adults in each country, including poverty, gender, race, religion, failing health and geographic isolation. The programme engages a range of partners, including older adults themselves, particularly those with low incomes and chronic illness. To address these challenges, the Ageing Programme focuses on three complimentary areas: 1) Improving economic and health security through effective advocacy and policy strategies; 2) Strengthening the voice and social action of older people for social justice; 3) Building a more enduring capacity of the age sector .

Children and Youth

The foundation believes that every child has a right to education, health, safety and a comprehensive set of services to help them reach their full potential. Significant disparities exist in the support systems and opportunities available to many children, and early investment in their futures is undervalued. The overarching goal of Atlantic’s Children & Youth Program is to address these disparities by creating an enduring capacity to support and advocate for children and youth, particularly those who are disadvantaged on the basis of income, race, gender or sexual orientation. Toward this end, the program seeks to create and support a network of organizations with an enhanced ability to advocate for children, while also delivering specific programme and policy reforms in the short run that will improve the lives of those children and youth who are most in need. The program is active in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United States. To support this strategic vision and advance the interests of children, the Children & Youth Program invests in systemic but focused efforts in each country in which it is active to: 1) Build capacity of organizations at the local, regional and national levels; 2) Strengthen leadership, build networks, unite organizations across issues and regions, and encourage community engagement on behalf of the most vulnerable children; 3) Engage the youth advocacy field, including youth, parents and communities, to advance concrete policy changes .

Founding Chairman

Founding Chairman, Charles "Chuck" Feeney, proposes grants to the Board that better the lives of people in a variety of countries. These grants generally pertain to the expansion, usually through co-financing, of building projects for higher education and medical research facilities. A focus of Feeney's support is to encourage medical researchers and university leaders at Atlantic-supported institutions in Australia, the United States and Viet Nam to collaborate on research in an effort to develop biomedical breakthroughs greater than any single institution can achieve alone. The ultimate goal is to generate sustainable scientific progress and improve health care for disadvantaged and vulnerable people. These efforts include the development of human vaccines for dengue fever, animal vaccines to prevent slaughters of herds from epidemics, establishment of advanced neurological imaging facilities and collaboration on nursing projects to tackle skills shortages. Similarly, Feeney had the farsighted plan of supporting higher education in Ireland in the first two decades of The Atlantic Philanthropies. The foundation's investments in many underfinanced institutions and regions of the country increased research and access to education, playing a vital part in strengthening the Irish economy from the 1990s onward .

Population Health

The foundation believes that quality health care is a fundamental human right. Atlantic shares the belief that primary health care systems, based on the principles of equity, health promotion and disease prevention, provide the best outcomes in health care. However, some groups of people receive care that differs greatly in quality from that available to others. The Population Health Program seeks to improve health and health care for all, especially vulnerable populations, with an emphasis on delivering quality primary services in local communities and reducing inequities in care and health outcomes. The program is active in a number of countries, including South Africa and Viet Nam. The basis of the program’s work is our belief that publicly funded health care systems, with an ample supply of well-trained primary care professionals, offer the best opportunity for ensuring access to and delivery of quality primary care to all. To develop and strengthen the primary health care systems in the countries in which we are active, the program works in partnership with schools of public health, governments, other foundations, communities, professional associations and nonprofit organizations. Specifically, the Population Health Program supports efforts to: 1) Educate, train and retain clinical, public health and other allied health professionals to improve the delivery of primary care; 2) Introduce, evaluate and replicate model programs for training health professionals, improving clinical care to meet standards of best practice, and delivering care effectively; 3) Invest in physical and digital infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of quality primary care; 4) Encourage grassroots advocacy for those who suffer from current inequities in health services and health outcomes .

Reconciliation and Human Rights

The foundation believes that all people should be treated with dignity, respect and fairness, and have full and equal access to civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. Human rights problems exist everywhere. As a result, the foundation believes that our most important legacy is a sustainable set of organizations with the proven ability to protect and advance rights. Atlantic seeks to build an enduring capacity to protect human rights in the geographies where we work and to promote reconciliation in Northern Ireland and South Africa. The program also operates in the Republic of Ireland and the United States. The Reconciliation & Human Rights Program supports work that mobilizes communities and develops effective leadership within them; builds strong, sustainable organizations that work together to advocate for change; secures legal gains that advance rights; and strengthens the culture of rights and the capacity of people at the margins to secure them. In each geography, the program works to protect the rights of immigrants. In addition, we also have specific priorities in each country, such as protecting people with disabilities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, integrating education in Northern Ireland, protecting the Constitution and advancing the rights of the rural poor in South Africa, and promoting racial justice, seeking to end the death penalty and restoring civil liberties and the rule of law in the United States. In addition to these distinct objectives for each targeted region, the program seeks to achieve the following: 1) A culture in which everyone’s rights are more likely to be respected and protected; 2) Societies which respect the rule of law; 3) Advancement of policies, laws and practices to protect human rights; 4) Mobilized constituencies working on behalf of human rights and reconciliation; 5) Enduring capacity to create lasting change and promote human rights and reconciliation. .

Fields of Interest

  • Human rights
  • International relations
  • Special population support
International Interests
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bermuda
  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • South Africa
  • Vietnam
Population Groups
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Immigrants
  • Low-income and poor people
  • People of African descent
  • Seniors
  • Coalitions and alliances

Financial Data

Year ended 2012-12-31

Assets: $2,219,468,000 (market value)

Expenditures: $583,726,000

Total giving: $521,711,000

Qualifying distributions: $521,711,000

Giving activities include:

$521,711,000 for grants