Funder Spotlight | The Phil Hardin Foundation

Lloyd Gray
Executive Director
The Phil Hardin Foundation
& MS Alliance
Board Member

Hardin Foundation seeks to be a catalyst for better education 

The Phil Hardin Foundation in Meridian was chartered in 1964 with the charge to “improve the education of Mississippians.” For nearly six decades, we have strived to be a catalyst for educational opportunity and community improvement in Mississippi through innovative leadership and productive partnerships.

Mr. Hardin, whose Meridian-based company owned several bakeries across the state, was a visionary businessman whose success never caused him to lose sight of his humble beginnings. He valued education as the most important ingredient for success in his life, and he knew that better educational opportunities for all would benefit not only individuals but would make Mississippi’s communities stronger and more prosperous.

To date, the Hardin Foundation has paid out over $80 million in grants to improve student achievement, make educational and enrichment opportunities more available and equitable, increase understanding of Mississippi arts, culture, and history, and build community capacity. We have a special focus on Meridian and Lauderdale County, but our grant footprint is statewide.

We strive to be a leader in philanthropic efforts to overcome our state’s historic legacy of poverty, discrimination, and educational neglect that makes sustainable educational improvement such a daunting challenge here. We also continue to be firmly committed to a strong philanthropic and nonprofit sector in Mississippi, which is critical to improving education at all levels. The Hardin Foundation was instrumental in the establishment of both the Alliance’s predecessor organizations, the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers, and more recently of the Alliance itself.

We operate a year-round grantmaking schedule and our board meets ten times a year to consider grant proposals. Our current priority grant categories include early childhood development, literacy, teacher quality, school leadership, equity of educational access, arts and cultural enrichment, and community and state capacity building. Find more information at, or email me at

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