The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation is an independent private foundation that seeks to help people in need in metro Atlanta, particularly children, by investing in education, health and economic opportunity.

Legacy of Mr. Whitehead

The Foundation’s grantmaking is inspired by the legacy of Joseph Brown Whitehead, one of the original bottlers of Coca-Cola. Together with Benjamin F. Thomas, Mr. Whitehead secured the exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola in most of the United States. He went on to establish the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company, later The Coca-Cola Bottling Company, in Atlanta with business partner John T. Lupton.

Mr. Whitehead worked tirelessly to develop the bottling business, making a small fortune before his death at the age of 42. During his life, Mr. Whitehead was active in civic and religious affairs and gave generously to local churches, orphanages and human service organizations in Atlanta. The Christian Index summed up his life thus: “Nobly did he accomplish life’s mission, doing more in 42 years than even good men accomplish in a long life of 70 or 80 years.”

Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation

Joseph B. Whitehead Jr. established the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation in 1937 as a memorial to his father. He specified that the Foundation’s giving should aid the poor and needy in Atlanta, and children in particular. The Foundation has awarded more than $1.4 billion in grants since inception. Grants are limited to organizations located and operating in metro Atlanta, as defined by the United Way of Greater Atlanta to include Butts, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale counties.

The Foundation shares an office and staff with other Whitehead family philanthropies – the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation and the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation – as well as with the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. This arrangement came about through the friendship and business relationship between Mrs. Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans, widow of Joseph B. Whitehead, and Mr. Robert W. Woodruff, longtime leader of The Coca-Cola Company. Each foundation is governed by its own board and charter. Grant proposals addressed to the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation may also be considered by the Woodruff and Evans Foundations.

Our Work

The Foundation makes grants in five program areas: early childhood education, K-12 education, children and youth, human services and health. The Foundation is responsive to the needs of the community and typically makes grants to well-established institutions and projects with strong leadership and a broad base of support. We seek to help organizations with a proven track record of success stretch further to seize new opportunities or to meet extraordinary needs.

Generally, the Foundation prefers not to be the only funder for a project, but to participate with the community in supporting initiatives led by others. The Foundation will occasionally make leading grants when the need is great and the initiative is compelling. Learn more about our grantmaking here.


The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, which sets policies and makes decisions regarding the Foundation’s operations, grantmaking, management, investments and governance.

Articles of Incorporation
Provides specific purposes for the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation as a Georgia corporation and private foundation.

Lists the rules that guide the Board of Trustees in managing the Foundation’s operations.

Statement of Principles
Serves as a guide for everyday professional conduct for the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and staff.

The Foundation would like to extend a special thanks to the following for providing images for this website: Atlanta Community Food Bank, Atlanta Mission, Boy Scouts of America-Atlanta Area Council, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Camp Twin Lakes, Central Atlanta Progress, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University, KIPP Metro Atlanta, Sheltering Arms, United Methodist Children’s Home and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. The use of any images on this site is expressly prohibited without the written consent of the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation.