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The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-06-04

At A Glance

The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation

P.O. Box 8937

The Woodlands, TX United States 77387-8937

Telephone: (713) 377-5060


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business
  • Family foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $89,277,461

Total giving: $14,317,069






Established in 1981 in TX - Founded by the late George Phydias Mitchell, a businessman and real estate developer from Texas. The foundation was established on the premise of fostering principles exemplified in the lifelong values of the late Cynthia Woods Mitchell and George P. Mitchell. They were both raised as children of meager means who, throughout their lives, believed in giving back to the community that made their success possible and lending a hand to the less fortunate struggling to reach their potential. As their fortunes grew in the energy business, they shared a vision that the majority of the wealth that they had created would be dedicated to making the world a more hospitable and sustainable place. Cynthia spent a lifetime supporting the arts, educational initiatives, and humanitarian issues that focus on the disadvantaged. George had a long history of supporting the economic revitalization of his hometown of Galveston and his keen interest in science and sustainability. As the foundation has evolved, issues related to sustainability have come to represent the foundation's true north, with the growing identification of sustainability as both a process and a goal to ensure long-term human and ecosystem well-being. Since its incorporation in 1978, the late George P. Mitchell and Cynthia Woods Mitchell, and the foundation, have distributed or pledged more than $400 million in grants to myriad causes, programs, and institutions. For many decades before their passing, Cynthia and George Mitchell planned to leave most of their wealth to charity. When George signed the Giving Pledge sponsored by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, he made public their long-held private intent that the majority of their wealth would be donated to philanthropic initiatives. The foundation is dutifully and purposely committed to carrying out George and Cynthia's philanthropic legacy- supporting the issues and organizations that reflect their values and vision. George Mitchell had committed to The Giving Pledge, and pledged to give away at least half of his wealth to philanthropy.

Purpose and Activities

The foundation is a mission-driven grantmaking foundation that seeks innovative, sustainable solutions for human and environmental problems. The foundation works as an engine of change in both policy and practice in Texas, supporting high-impact projects at the nexus of environmental protection, social equity, and economic vibrancy.

Program Area(s)

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

Clean Energy

The Mitchell Foundation is committed to clean energy in Texas and supports strategic efforts that ensure that the state's growing demand for power is minimized but met with the cleanest and water-leanest sources of electricity possible. The foundation seeks to invest in initiatives that demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Texas's competitive electricity market structure and can leverage that knowledge to create innovative and effective energy policies that ensure reliability and resource adequacy while reducing the environmental and health impacts of power generation. The foundation is convinced that Texas can meet its projected growth in demand for electricity while simultaneously adding new jobs in the state, and reducing air emissions and reliance on constrained water resources. To achieve a clean and water-lean electricity market that emphasizes market drivers and fair prices, the foundation supports efforts that promote demand reduction, renewable resources, and grid and utility business model modernization. To achieve its strategic goals, the Clean Energy program supports: 1) efforts to bring an array of diverse, centrist-thinking communities to bear on clean energy policy issues; 2) policies and innovative mechanisms that increase cost-effective energy efficiency activities; 3) the development of renewable energy markets to help fill the efficiency gap in electricity supply; 4) reduced reliance on traditional coal-fired electricity production; and 5) continued in-depth analysis and policy development related to the energy-water nexus. See foundation web site for more information.

Shale Sustainability

The foundation supports the emerging regulatory, industry, environmental and academic efforts to reduce the negative environmental and community impacts of shale formation development and hydraulic fracturing while capturing the energy, environmental, and economic benefits of natural gas. The unresolved challenges related to shale development and natural gas can be divided into two broad categories. The first set of questions involves natural gas as a fuel source, including to what extent fugitive methane emissions occur and how these emissions can be minimized; and to what extent abundant natural gas displaces renewable energy and energy efficiency in electricity generation. The second set of questions involves the risk of impact from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to develop shale formations. These technologies have a distinct risk to the environment and communities that can be economically managed. The Natural Gas Sustainability program supports a number of solution-driven tactics, including: 1. a meta-analysis of methane studies completed to date to better understand the wide variation in results in estimates of methane leakage rates; 2. a comprehensive analysis of the market structure, pricing, and technological barriers to better integration of renewables and gas in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) system; 3. a collaborative and inclusive effort to modernize the regulatory scheme for oil and gas operations in Texas, which the foundation believes is needed because regulations have not kept pace with the use of advanced drilling technologies, including hydraulic fracturing.See foundation web site for more information.

Sustainability Science

The sustainability science approach to solving complex environmental and social problems aims to bring together scholarship and practice, global and local perspectives, and disciplines across natural and social sciences. An initial step in expanding the use of sustainability science is to educate a new generation of future leaders about the concept and its application. With the stresses on its uniquely diverse natural systems—from expanding development, industrial and agricultural activities, rural and urban demographic mix, and associated increases in demand for resources, goods, and services—Texas provides an ideal “laboratory” for studying sustainability science and using its approach to solve real problems. The Sustainability Science program will utilize the link between the foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the university community in Texas as the basis for supporting the creation of a statewide, state-of-the-art, university-based network of academic sustainability science programs.See foundation web site for more information.


Consistent with the sustainability science approach that characterizes the foundation's grantmaking, the water program aims to increase the scientific understanding of water issues in Texas, which informs the design of effective policy approaches to ensure that water quantity and quality needs of both humans and the environment are met. Despite efforts like the State Water Plan, new funding resources for water projects, and other governmental endeavors intended to address growing water needs and constraints in Texas, many of the most difficult issues of water management remain unaddressed. To address these water management challenges and ensure adequate water supplies for the environment in Texas, the water program's resources are deployed to: 1) define the "grand challenges" of water management and the scientific, policy, and legal investigations necessary to address intractable questions; 2) increase water conservation in major Texas cities through urban water conservation programs and utility business model reform; 3) protect water resources in the Texas Hill Country through landowner engagement and a science-based identification of the most critical water resources; and 4) achieve water and energy savings through in-depth analysis and policy development related to the energy-water nexus.See foundation web site for more information.

Fields of Interest

  • Air quality
  • Climate change
  • Energy efficiency
  • Environmental studies
  • Forest management
  • Groundwater
  • Renewable energy
  • Rivers and lakes
  • Science
  • Water conservation
  • Wildlife rehabilitation
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Low-income and poor people

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $89,277,461 (market value)

Expenditures: $15,815,226

Total giving: $14,317,069

Qualifying distributions: $17,166,322