The John William Pope Foundation is a family foundation based in North Carolina that derived its wealth from Variety Wholesalers, a regional retail store chain. Under the leadership James Arthur “Art” Pope, son of John William Pope, the Pope Foundation supports both national and North Carolina-focused center-right organizations and charities and arts organizations in North Carolina.
Art Pope also sits as chairman of the board of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a major right-of-center donor organization.
James Arthur “Art” Pope
John William Pope created Variety Wholesalers, which operates about 500 discount stores under the Roses and Maxway brands in the southeast United States. In 1986, Pope asked his son, James Arthur “Art” Pope, to organize the Pope Foundation. Art Pope told National Review’s John J. Miller in 2009 that his father “wanted to protect and preserve the free-enterprise system that had allowed the business to do well.” 
Art Pope told the New Yorker, “Politically, I would describe myself as conservative, and philosophically I would describe myself as a classical liberal, which you had in John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill.” 
Pope told Miller that while the Pope Foundation supported such poverty-fighting organizations as Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army, “these are short-term, direct measures that treat symptoms.” He argued that if the purpose of philanthropy was “teaching a man to fish”—giving him the tools and education to rise out of poverty. He said, “teaching a man to fish presupposes that you have a right to fish and a right to keep the fish you catch. It assumes that you can take your fish to market and sell it, and use the proceeds to buy clothes for your kids. Too many philanthropists don’t even consider that in a just and functioning society, you must have individual liberty with property rights, the rule of law, and limited constitutional government.” 
Pope has served in North Carolina state government, including eight years as a Republican member of the North Carolina House of Representatives and as special counsel to former Governor Jim Martin (R-NC). In 2013 he spent two years as budget director for then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R). Former North Carolina Speaker of the House Richard Morgan (R) said that as a legislator, Pope was “an old-fashioned policy wonk” who would spend hours at a time studying the state’s budget.  Former Republican Governor James G. Martin told the Washington Post in 2014 “there are not many people as influential” as Pope, “ because few people have invested the time and the money that he has on behalf of his state.” 
Since 2014, the Pope Foundation has been headed by John Hood, who previously worked as president of the John Locke Foundation. Hood, the author of four books, announced on accepting his new position that he would continue to write a syndicated column and regularly appear om television commenting on North Carolina state politics. 
John Locke Foundation
The Pope Foundation has created several center-right organizations. John J. Miller notes that “in the late 1980s, the Heritage Foundation introduced Pope to the emerging effort to establish free-market think tanks in state capitals.” Art Pope told Miller that Heritage’s drive to create state free market think tanks “led to the birth of the John Locke Foundation.” 
The Locke Foundation has centers devoted to agriculture, education, and “public integrity,” and publishes Carolina Journal, a bimonthly newspaper. The Washington Post noted in 2014 that the foundation was “the state’s premier idea generator on the right.” 
The Pope Foundation has long had an interest in reforming higher education. In 2007 the foundation, collaborating with the Marcus and Templeton Foundations, donated a combined $5 million to establish the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, which works with donors to universities to preserve donor intent. 
In 2003, the Pope Foundation helped establish the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, which was renamed the James G, Martin Center for Academic Renewal in 2017. The center publishes reports such as Games Universities Play, a 2011 study by Martin Morse Wooster about preserving donor intent in gifts to colleges and universities. The center also publishes over 150 opinion pieces a year with an emphasis on resolving problems in higher education in North Carolina. 
The Pope Foundation’s grants of $11.3 million in 2020 included grants of $2.75 million to the John Locke Foundation and $543,000 to the Martin Center for Academic Renewal. Three center-right organizations received grants of over $100,000: The Institute for Humane Studies ($375,000), the Mercatus Center ($135,000) and Fair Lines America Foundation ($100,000).