In the 1920s, Claude B. "Doc" Pennington worked as a laborer in Louisiana's emerging oil and gas industry. He eventually practiced the profession of his father -- optometry -- but once his father died, Doc Pennington returned to the field he loved.
In the 1950s, he found Mount Pleasant Plantation located on 2,000 acres on the Mississippi River bank in northern East Baton Rouge Parish. Mr. Pennington wanted to lease the mineral rights and had to travel to Chicago to speak with the plantation's owner. To make a good impression, as legend has it, he borrowed $300 to buy a new suit, shirt, and tie. The landowner, banker Edward E. Brown, had originally purchased the plantation for his wife. Since her death, the property had not been well-tended. Mr. Brown preferred to sell rather than lease, which Mr. Pennington did.
Mr. Pennington and his only son, C. B. Pennington, Jr., bought Mount Pleasant Plantation in May 1957 for $400,000-$100,000 in cash and a $300,000 loan from Mr. Brown's bank.
In 1975, Chevron drilled a well near False River in Pointe Coupee Parish. The company discovered a rich mineral layer three miles underground. Mount Pleasant was located right above an untapped stretch of oil that spanned through South Louisiana. Mr. Pennington approached Chevron about drilling on his land, but the company declined. He contacted Amoco, which saw promise in the prospect, and in 1977 drilled a well near the Georgia Pacific paper mill, north of the plantation. The well struck one of the largest oil and gas finds in Louisiana history.
Mr. Pennington and his wife, Irene Wells Pennington, shared their success with the communities that had been an important part of their lives.
In 1980, they gave a $125 million gift to Louisiana State University to create a nutrition research facility. The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is now a renowned institution conducting groundbreaking research in the areas of functional foods, obesity, nutrition and chronic diseases, and health and performance enhancement.
In 1982, their private family foundation, the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, was established. During their lives, Mr. and Mrs. Pennington were noted philanthropists and volunteers. Family members, who serve as the foundation's core trustees, gladly carry on the Pennington legacy of generosity.
The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation supports organizations in all stages of maturity and presence in the community. The Pennington Foundation welcomes the opportunity to consider new organizations that offer creative ideas to address community needs along with more established nonprofits.
Much of the foundation's support is given to nonprofits and agencies that provide direct services to disadvantaged and underserved children, youth and families. The foundation funds primarily in the areas of health and human services, with special initiatives in the areas of disaster resiliency, HIV, childhood obesity prevention, and innovative projects that positively affect the health and well-being of women and girls, children and families.
Most of the foundation's giving focuses on organizations and agencies within or near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This includes East and West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee, and East and West Feliciana Parishes.
Areas of Interest
Health and human services are the two areas of most interest to the foundation. Support is also given in the areas of education, medical, arts and humanities, and community development. In rare cases, projects may be funded in the areas of the environment. The foundation no longer funds unsolicited events.
In order to be eligible for a grant from the Pennington Family Foundation, an organization must be recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Please note that a majority of the foundation's grants is awarded to organizations and agencies within or near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The foundation does not give grants to individuals.