Wallace H Coulter Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $12,043,059
Expenses: $33,527,362
Assets: $200,879,327


1998 (formerly The Charitable Remainder Trust)


Wallace H. Coulter


Private Foundation

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The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation is a private foundation that funds higher education and left-of-center Asian-American advocacy created by entrepreneur Wallace H. Coulter (1913-1998), who created a device that counted particles in blood samples. Coulter created the Coulter Corporation, which was sold to Beckman Instruments in 1997 for $875 million. The merged company became Beckman Coulter.

The foundation originally donated to colleges and universities supporting biomedical engineering. Since 2010, the foundation has increased its support for political advocacy, with a strong emphasis on funding left-of-center groups that advocate for Asian Americans.

Wallace H. Coulter

Wallace H. Coulter was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in February 1913.  He attended Westminster College for one year and the Georgia Institute of Technology for two years but dropped out of school in 1932. 1

In 1947, Coulter and his brother, Joseph Coulter, discovered that cells could be rapidly counted in a blood sample my measuring the electrical charges cells transmitted. This led to the discovery of the Coulter Principle, the discovery of which led in 1948 to the first of 85 patents Coulter received. The Coulter Principle was found to work in many different kinds of fluids. Forbes in 1996 declared that discovering the Coulter Principle added the Coulter brothers to “the brief list of America’s great inventor-entrepreneurs.” 2

The Coulter brothers used the Coulter Principle to create a company that evolved into the Coulter Corporation. In 1997, Beckman Instruments bought the Coulter Corporation for $875 million, with the merged company renamed Beckman Coulter. 3

Creation of the Foundation

Wallace H. Coulter died in 1998. 4 He had no heirs, and after distributing $100 million to 5500 employees, left the rest to the Coulter Foundation. Coulter biographer Marshall Don. Graham says Coulter’s purpose in creating the Coulter Foundation was “improvement of health care through medical research and engineering.” 5

The Coulter Foundation has had only one president, Sue Van, who had worked for the Coulter Corporation since 1975 and was executive vice president and CFO of the Coulter Corporation at the time of the Beckman merger. The foundation says that “Wallace’s trust in Sue was so deep that he left no further instruction regarding the disposition of his estate beyond saying, ‘Sue will know what to do.’”6

Academic Grantmaking

The foundation spent much of its first 15 years making seven-figure grants to colleges and universities, often to promote biomedical engineering. Westminster College received $29 million in 2003 for a science building, which opened as the Coulter Science Center in 2004. 7 The school then received an additional $1 million in 2013, on the centennial of Coulter’s birth. 8 Georgia Tech also received a large grant that endowed the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, jointly run with Emory University. 9 Clarkson University received $30 million from the Coulter Foundation in 2002 and named its engineering school after Coulter. Coulter had served as a Clarkson trustee between 1983 and 1989. 10

The Coulter Foundation provided several large grants to universities to enable them to create spinoff companies to create profitable projects, a process the foundation calls “translational research.” In 2011, the Coulter Foundation donated $10 million to the University of Virginia, which provided $10 million of its own, with the $20 million endowment used to successfully bring products to market. 11 The university says the Coulter grant enabled their professors to develop commercially viable products that helped treat liver disease and diabetes. 12

Asian-American Programs

In 2010, the Coulter Foundation began programs to aid Asian Americans.  The foundation’s stated basis for these programs was the time between 1939-42 when Coulter worked in China, the Philippines, and Singapore as a salesman for General Electric’s X-ray division. 13 Sue Van, the Coulter Foundation’s president, was born in China and moved to the U.S. at age five. 14

The foundation says it promotes programs supporting Asian Americans through the “Coulter Consortium.”  It says the purpose of this consortium is to “unite disparate AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) groups, “facilitate cultural transformation,” and “eliminate barriers to success.” 15

In 2018 the foundation approved $19.9 million in grants to Asian-American advocacy groups in that year and $23.9 million in grants for years after 2018.  These organizations received present and future grants of $1 million and over: 16

Freedom Inc. Controversy

The Coulter Foundation funded Freedom Inc., a Madison, Wisconsin-based radical-left advocacy group that assists Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia and also received grants from Borealis Philanthropy, the state of Wisconsin, the city of Madison, and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. The Wisconsin State Journal reported in 2019 that the group is so opposed to police in schools that in a 2018 meeting of the city school board Jurie Mayo, who became Freedom Inc.’s youth justice coordinator, took the smartphone of a woman who supported cops in schools and smashed it. Mayo, in a plea agreement, was fined $62 and had to spend $899 buying a replacement. 17

The State Journal reported that Freedom Inc. members “have made a point of shutting down School Board meetings, shouting down and getting in the faces of speakers with alternate viewpoints, calling those who disagree with them ‘racists,’ repeatedly interrupting Dane County and city of Madison meetings, and generally refusing to abide with what they refer to as ‘respectability politics.’” Former Madison school board president Mary Burke (D) said she knew four Black high school students who wanted to testify that they wanted police in their school but stayed silent because “speaking publicly risks being bullied and called a racist” by Freedom Inc. members. 18

Voter Registration

In 2020 the Coulter Foundation, allied with eight groups, including the Florida Philanthropic Network, Urban League of Broward County, the Ventus Charitable and Miami Foundations, the Health Foundation of Southern Florida, and the NALEO Educational Fund, created “Florida Counts:  Vote 2020,” which created a pooled donor fund that gave grants to nonprofits for voter registration. 19


  1. [1] Marshall Don. Graham, “The Coulter Principle:  The Arkansas Background,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Summer 2014.
  2. Bruce Upbin, “What Have You Invented For Me Lately?” Forbes, October 1, 1996.
  3.  Andy Pasztor, “Beckman To Buy Coulter For $875 Million In Bid To Keep Pace With Hospital Deals,” Wall Street Journal, September 2, 1997.  Danaher Corporation acquired Beckman Coulter in 2011 for $5.87 Billion.  “Danaher To Acquire Beckman Coulter for $5.87 Billion,” Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2011.
  4. Tom Steighorst, “Wallace H. Coulter, Inventor, 85, Found New Way To Count Blood Cells,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, August 11, 1998.
  5. Marshall Don. Graham, “The Coulter Principle:  The Arkansas Background.”
  6. “Guiding Principal.” Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, June 24, 2015.
  7. “Westminster Building Connects The Sciences,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 2, 2004.
  8. “Foundation Pledges  $1 Million to Westminster,” Columbia Daily Tribune, April 25, 2013.
  9. “Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering,”  (accessed April 9, 2021).
  10. “Clarkson University Receives $30 Million From Wallace H. Coulter Foundation,” press release from Clarkson University, May 3, 2002, (accessed April 9, 2021).
  11. “Coulter Foundation Award Creates a $20 Million U.Va. Endowment for Translational Research in Biomedical Innovation,” press release from the University of Virginia, May 3, 2011.
  12. “Coulter Translational Research Partnership,” (accessed April 9, 2021)
  13. Wallace H Coulter Foundation, “Sharing the American Dream,”  (accessed April 9, 2021).
  14. Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, “Our People:  Sue Van,” (accessed April 9, 2021).
  15. Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, “Sharing The American Dream,” (accessed April 9, 2021).
  16. Wallace H. Coulter Foundation 2018 Form 990
  17.  Chris Rickert, “Radical Approach to Justice; Group Challenges Progressive Ideals, Officials of Madison,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 23, 2019.
  18. Chris Rickert, “Radical Approach to Justice; Group Challenges Progressive Ideals, Officials of Madison,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 23, 2019.
  19. “Florida Counts:  Vote 2020, a Statewide Non-Partisan Initiative, Forms To Increase Voter Participation,” press release issued August 3, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Sue Van
    President and CEO
  2. EunSook Lee
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1997

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form PF $12,043,059 $33,527,362 $200,879,327 $25,352,973 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $17,809,561 $34,075,090 $217,573,174 $20,562,517 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $8,120,472 $6,020,101 $237,161,564 $23,885,378 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Sep Form PF $19,160,928 $33,782,793 $237,848,332 $26,672,517 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Sep Form PF $14,515,405 $21,113,078 $253,835,649 $28,041,889 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Sep Form PF $21,711,761 $75,160,395 $270,887,757 $38,493,619 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Wallace H Coulter Foundation

    790 NW 107TH AVE STE 215
    MIAMI, FL 33172-3158