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Foundation Profile: Peter and Emajean Cook Foundation

March 11, 2013

This foundation profile is part of a series in our new project, the Non-Profit Industrial Complex in Grand Rapids.

The Peter and Emajean Cook Foundation has a long history of supporting conservative causes and organizations within the Religious Right. peter_cook

The foundation is named after Peter Cook, a local businessman who died in 2010.

In looking at the 990s for 2009 – 2011, there was a definite decline in funding overall, with most of the money staying local. The Peter and Emajean Cook Foundation also significantly decreased its funding to far right groups, with the exception of a $5,000 contribution to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in 2010.

The Peter and Emajean Cook Foundation instead has directed its money at West Michigan organizations such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the YMCA, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and the Grandville Arts Academy.

The foundation named after Peter Cook still gives to numerous Christian organizations, such as Wedgewood Christian Services, In the Image, Abundant Life Ministries, Heartside Ministries and Wealth’s Wisdom Ministries.

One thing that was notable about the 990s for the Peter and Emajean Cook Foundation was the fact that they also included where the foundation had its money invested. The foundation was making money off of investments in the Altria Group, Boeing, Bristol Myers-Squibb, Chevron, DuPont, General Electric, Eli Lilly, Microsoft, Phillip Morris, Shell and Verizon, just to name a few. These corporations are some of the most environmentally destructive and many have a history of human rights abuses.

The Foundation listed its assets at $1,332,131 on the 2011 990s and contributed at total of $547,872 during that year. What this means is that foundations are a great way for wealthy individuals and families to hide their wealth in non-taxable enclaves, continue to invest in the stock market, make more money, then give a small portion away and be seen as community heroes.

This dynamic is explored in more detail in books like Foundations of the American Century and Foundations and Public Policy. 

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