The Lillian S. Wells Foundation is a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based charitable foundation with assets worth more than $44 million at the end of 2010. That year, the most recent for which financial information is available, it dispersed more than $3.5 million in grants. In addition to funding medical and educational projects, the foundation directs a significant portion of its grants to conservative organizations and causes.
Since 2001, the foundation has given over $4.5 million to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which boasts that it taught over 10,000 students across the country "the timeless principles that make America free and prosperous—the core ideas behind the free market, the American Founding, and Western civilization that are rarely taught in the classroom." The foundation has contributed another $4.5 million since 2001 to the Heritage Foundation. Sizable donations have also gone to the Capital Research Center ($390k since 2001), which supports "the principles of individual liberty, a free market economy and limited constitutional government," and the James Madison Institute (over $200k since 2001), whose mission is to promote "such timeless ideals as limited government, economic freedom, federalism, and individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility." Other notable recipients include the Bill of Rights Institute and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.
The foundation was created in 1975 by Preston "Dick" Wells, a trustee at the Heritage Foundation, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the James Madison Institute. Upon his death in 2003, his wife Marion Wells took over his spot on the Heritage board. (Marion also sits on the board of the Capital Research Center.) Barbara Wells, the couple’s daughter, currently sits on the foundation’s board, which also includes Jeff Cain, a former executive vice president at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the current president of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation, as well as Barbara W. Kenney. Kenney was formerly a director at the Capital Research Center and two Washington State free-market think tanks – the Washington Policy Center and the Freedom Foundation – and she also sits on the board of the State Policy Network, an influential group that works with U.S.-based and international groups to advance free-market economics.