History & Community

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Founded in 1993 by Gateway, Inc. co-founder Ted Waitt, the Waitt Foundation’s initial focus was promoting positive change in “at-risk” communities throughout the Siouxland region of Iowa & South Dakota where Ted was born. After investing millions of dollars in various programs, and having had the most measurable impact on those at risk today, the Foundation began to shift its primary focus from domestic violence to community building.


Moving its headquarters to the San Diego area in 1999, the foundation took advantage of the opportunity to broaden its goals to global programming, and extend its reach to a new local community.  The creation of two operating institutes in 2005, the Waitt Institute and the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, enabled the foundation to expand program interests beyond community building initiatives to ocean conservation, which remains the foundation’s primary focus today.

To best serve our communities, the Waitt Foundation maintains The Waitt Foundation community fund at the San Diego Foundation aimed at promoting civic engagement, supporting the capacity of local environmental organizations, and responding to urgent and emergent community needs in Southern California and the Siouxland region of South Dakota.