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A look behind the Ed Rachal Foundation

Ed Rachal Jr..jpg
Posted at 12:12 PM, Jul 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-13 16:38:15-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — One of the largest property owners in Corpus Christi, the Ed Rachal Foundation writes millions of dollars in grants every year.

But the philanthropic efforts of the organization don't stop with those checks.

This is evidenced by the debilitated properties it has purchased, renovated or razed to make way for new growth.

Paul Altheide, chief executive officer of the foundation, said the organization recently purchased an airplane for Driscoll Children's Hospital, which is used every day to transport physicians.

And it is the sole source of funding for the Palacios Marine Agricultural Research facility, which is working on spawning oysters with the eventual goal of reef restoration.

And while the organization's website says it is guided by a mission of benefiting "charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes in the State of Texas," Altheide said contributions are not limited to those purposes.

“It’s as blank as blank can be. We’re not focused on education, children — there is no direct area of focus,” Altheide said. "Our restriction is the state of Texas."

In an exclusive interview with KRIS 6 News, Altheide shared the history of the organization and also provided insight into how it operates.

The organization was formed following the death of Ed Rachal Jr., a local rancher born in Rockport in 1878.

Rachal, married to Louise Allen Rachal, had no children and stipulated this foundation be created in his will, which was formed one year after his death in an automobile accident in 1964.

How grants are awarded

The foundation supports numerous charitable initiatives, including scholarships, grants to educational institutions, and contributions to scientific and literary endeavors.

Altheide, who has been the CEO for over 20 years, has grown the organization's assets exponentially. It currently has assets, such as properties and oil and gas wells, that bring in $650 million annually.

As an operating foundation, tax laws require five percent of the market value of assets be distributed to charitable purposes annually. This requirement does not include any exempt assets, which for the Ed Rachal Foundation, are roughly 40 percent.

Altheide said it distributes between $6 to $9 million in grants annually, along with investing $18 to $22 million dollars each year in growing its portfolio.

The awarding of these grants is made by seven members who sit on the foundation's board. To qualify for funds, organizations must be a 501(c)(3), or governmental entity.

And while they receive numerous grant requests annually, Altheide said organizations that receive awards are typically known to at least one board member.

He also said the process to apply does not require a grant writer. Rather applications are vetted by reviewing financial statements and then the Ed Rachal Foundation makes a determination on how well the requesting organization is run.

“You don’t need a professional grant writer to send us a grant request, there are some places that if you submit a grant application you will get the funds,” Altheide said. “We make a judgment on how well they’re run.”

How it operates

Each year, board members are elected, with no limit on how long they can serve.

To become a board member, applicants must be recommended by a current board member and must serve in an advisory role for a year.

And while the board decides how grant money is spent, Altheide said staff time is used in managing the assets, which helps it fulfill its primary mission of giving back.

“The staff and everybody has to work most of their time managing assets. Giving grants is the easy part,” he said.

Recently, the Ed Rachal Foundation’s portfolio of properties grew as it purchased the old Value Bank on Leopard Street as well as a few adjacent properties.

He said that the property, which it plans to rent out as office space, will be an ideal location once Leopard Street is reconnected.

“We want to make sure whatever we give, gives us a good return (on investment) and enhances the location,” Altheide said.

KRIS 6 News Intern Hunter Hilliard contributed to this article.

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