setting ideas in motion


Woods Charitable Fund is a private philanthropic foundation created by Frank H. Woods and Nelle Cochrane Woods and their three sons. It was incorporated in Nebraska in 1941 and Frank Woods provided major endowment in 1952 before his death that year. In 1955 the Fund received one-third of the net residuary estate of Nelle C. Woods. The resources that made these gifts possible resulted from business interests in the telecommunications and coal industries in Nebraska and Illinois, namely Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph and Sahara Coal Company.

Nelle and Frank Woods

For more than fifty years the Fund made grants in Lincoln, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois. Until the early 1980s, it operated as a family foundation under the leadership of trustees Frank H. Woods Jr. in Chicago and Thomas C. Woods Jr. in Lincoln. Both men had many business and personal ties in both cities. Their deaths, in 1980 and 1989 respectively, brought changes including: expanding the board beyond family members to acknowledge both the benefits of new viewpoints and the fewer family members in the two cities available for board membership; bringing on staff; and introducing more targeted grant programs.

At the end of 1993, Woods Charitable Fund underwent a major restructuring that institutionalized in two separate foundations the different grant programs of the Fund in Chicago and Lincoln. Woods Charitable Fund now operates in Lincoln only and a second foundation, Woods Fund Chicago, was created by transferring part of the original foundation’s assets to the new foundation. Both foundations currently operate with local representative boards and are able to respond to the issues, opportunities and creative leadership in their respective communities.

The Founders of Woods Charitable Fund

Frank H. Woods
(1868 – 1952)

Nelle C. Woods
(1870 – 1950)

Thomas C. Woods
(1895 – 1958)

Henry C. Woods
(1895 – 1968)

Frank H. Woods, Jr.
(1905 – 1980)