A Century of Service. Giving for Good.

The Pettus Foundation

In 2015, with the untimely death of Mr. James Finch III, the Community Foundation accepted the honor and privilege of working for the Trustees of the Pettus Foundation to continue to ensure that the philanthropic wishes of Mr. Pettus live on in the St. Louis Region.  

A Note From the Trustees

The Foundation’s giving occurs in three ways:

  • St. Louis, where Mr. Pettus Jr. was born and went to school with funding for education of children at risk (with a focus on public education) and job training (helping those who are receivers of society become producers/tax payers to society).
  • Hawaii, where Mr. Pettus Jr. lived in his later years primarily funding early childhood education and human services.
  • Plus, each of the seven children of James T. Pettus Jr. (family advisors) has an allocated amount to give to charities of their choice both domestically and internationally.

The Trustees for the Pettus Foundation are:

Lisa Hamilton, Family Trustee
Al Castle, Trustee
The Northern Trust Company, Corporate Trustee


*The St. Louis Community Foundation provides back office grant making support to the trustees.



St. Louis accepts Letters of Intent for education of children at risk and job training three times a year. Submission Deadline (postmarked or emailed by 5pm on the dates below):

  • January 12, 2018
  • May 4, 2018
  • September 7, 2018

The Pettus Foundation asks that interested organizations submit a Letter of Intent no later than the dates listed above.  Staff at the St. Louis Community Foundation will review all letters and invite prescreened candidates to submit a customized version of the Missouri Common Grant Application. Please note the following:

  • The Pettus Foundation does not consider grant applications requesting funds for computer technology.
  • The Pettus Foundation will consider, from time to time and on a case by case basis,  applications from excellent charter schools which demonstrate outstanding academic results and sound financial planning. However, public charter schools are not a focus of the Foundation.
  • The Pettus Foundation’s typical grant range is from $10,000 to $25,000.  The trustees especially favor applications that demonstrate multiple funding partners and match or challenge grant opportunities.  The trustees seek to leverage the Foundation’s assets to strengthen Saint Louis non-profits working toward the foundation’s goals.

Please contact Neosha Franklin at grants@stlgives.org or 314.880.4959 if you have any questions.

*Hawaii gives to preselected organizations and does not accept applications for grants.

In the past decade, Hawaii grants have tended to favor organizations addressing homelessness, hunger, job training, early education, literacy, and programs increasing the independence and the self-sufficiency of citizens.

Click here to review a listing of 2017 Hawaii grants. Questions related to Hawaii grants can be referred to: Alfred L. Castle, Pettus Foundation Trustee, 733 Bishop Street, Suite 1275, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. Phone 808-522-1101.

The children of James T. Pettus Jr. give to preselected organizations and do not accept applications for grants.

Pettus Foundation History

J T Pettus moved to St. Louis from Tennessee and started working for International Shoe Company in the early 1900’s. By the time he retired, he was Vice Chairman of the company. During his tenure at the shoe company he formed the J T Pettus Foundation, a family foundation. He and May Pettus had two children, James Jr. and Irene. Both eventually formed their own family foundations, the Pettus-Crowe Foundation (Irene) and the James T. Pettus Jr. Foundation.

When WWII broke out in Europe, a very young and patriotic James Pettus Jr. went to Canada and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force to participate in the fight for freedom. After Pearl Harbor when the United States joined the war, Flight Lt. Pettus transferred to the United States Fifth Air Force Bomber Group and by the age of 25, was a full Colonel. As leader of a B-24 Bomber group, he was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, three Distinguished Flying Crosses and was cited for a Silver Star.

After the war, Jim went to work for the State Department and until retirement served in various posts around the world with his last post being Hawaii. In the middle seventies, Mr. Pettus served on the faculty of the National War College. In 1965, Jim created his own family foundation and eventually his fathers and his foundations were merged and called the James T. Pettus Jr. Foundation. In 1994, the foundation’s name was changed to The Pettus Foundation.



pettus-retirementJ T Pettus (standing) at what is believed to be his retirement dinner from International Shoe Company


pettus-warCol. James T. Pettus Jr. (left) and his crew in front of their B-24

St. Louis Community Foundation

#2 Oak Knoll Park, St. Louis, MO 63105
tel 314-588-8200, fax 314-588-8088