News & Events

Dr. Patrick Frias, former chief operating officer, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Mary Ellen Imlay, chair of The Imlay Foundation; M.G. Finn, chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry in Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences, at the Pediatric Technology Center at Georgia Tech
Dr. Patrick Frias, former chief operating officer, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Mary Ellen Imlay, chair of The Imlay Foundation; M.G. Finn, chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry in Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences, at the Pediatric Technology Center at Georgia Tech



The Imlay Innovation Fund brings together clinicians from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and engineers from Georgia Tech to solve critical health needs and develop technology solutions geared toward improving the health of children. The Fund is a source of annual seed money to test and pilot the most innovative solutions to these pediatric health problems. 

Funded by The Imlay Foundation through a $5 million endowed grant approved by the Foundation’s board in 2016 (then the largest in its 30-year history), and a $3 million addition to the endowment in 2021 as part of a 5-year, $10 million gift to CHOA’s Never Settle Campaign, a leadership team comprised of scientific, clinical, academic and administrative representatives from both institutions issues a request for proposals, which are then submitted to a joint faculty council for review and recommendation.  The leadership team reviews the faculty council recommendations and make the final funding decisions for each year.

The Imlay Innovation Fund provides initial funding to support “quick wins”, which can be implemented within 12-18 months, as well as funding to bridge the gap between basic research funding and commercial investment for critical high impact technology which can be turned into viable, permanent pediatric healthcare solutions.

The Imlay Innovation Fund honors John Imlay’s entrepreneurial legacy and his willingness to invest in innovative ideas and people to create a positive impact on the Atlanta community.  It also provides a unique vehicle to honor Mary Ellen Imlay’s love of CHOA and John’s love of Georgia Tech.

Since 2017, The now $8 million+ endowed Imlay Innovation Fund has awarded more than $1.25 million in grants to 9 CHOA-Georgia Tech pediatric partnership projects.



November 2022:  Historic Oakland Cemetery has embarked on the first major capital campaign in its history.  A critical component of Historic Oakland’s preservation efforts is the rehabilitation of the 1899 Bell Tower building, the most recognizable building on Oakland’s grounds.  This 2,800 square-foot structure currently houses the sexton’s office as well as the Historic Oakland Foundation’s offices, meeting space, archives, gift shop, storage, cemetery records, visitors center and public restrooms.  The activity and infrastructure that the Foundation can support is limited due to the lack of additional space in the Bell Tower to conduct business, and the historic building is suffering from overuse. 

Moving Foundation offices, gift shop and storage to a new visitors’ center (also to be funded with gifts to the capital campaign) will allow the restoration project to open up first and second floor spaces and update them for programmatic and exhibition usage open to the public.  Plans also include the addition of a catering kitchen to allow the building’s use as a special event space to bring in much-needed revenue.

The Imlay Foundation made a major gift to the capital campaign in May 2020 to fund most of the cost of the Bell Tower restoration.  Groundbreaking for the restoration project took place in November 2021 and the project was completed in Fall 2022.



January 2022: In January 2020, Georgia Public Broadcasting launched its new Virtual Reality (VR) Initiative in selected schools across the state, funded through a three-year grant from The Imlay Foundation.  We can all remember the great excitement we experienced as school children when something or someone new altered the grade school class routine. While the COVID pandemic put a hold on further rollout until early 2022, this initiative is already bringing that kind of excitement, along with a heightened sense of attention and curiosity, into classrooms across Georgia.

The project is allowing students to engage with events, places and people that most would otherwise encounter only as two-dimensional words on a page, an especially relevant opportunity given how many children and youth use virtual reality technology in other aspects of their lives.  Based on a thorough process of communication and preparation, lesson plans for each experience are tailored to the specific needs and requests of the school.

In addition to Slavery and Freedom: the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and The Civil Rights Movement, GPB is initially virtualizing additional curriculum including the Little White House, Providence Canyon, Andersonville, the Okefenokee Swamp and Brasstown Bald. This initiative is uniquely positioned to support educators by producing resources that meet the needs of teachers and students throughout Georgia.



November 2021: On a beautiful fall afternoon, the Mary Ellen Imlay Channel Garden was formally dedicated at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG).  The Channel Garden was funded in total by The Imlay Foundation and is a lovely new addition which complements the iconic John Imlay Bridge in the heart of ABG’s Storza Woods. By bringing the enchantment of a flowing stream and artfully arranged plantings into this forested landscape, this significant water feature with adjacent gardens draws visitors from ABG’s iconic Canopy Walk and provides them with a wonderful opportunity to reflect and recharge in a beautifully enhanced space. The Atlanta Botanical Garden has always been a calming place in the midst of the bustling City of Atlanta, a role that has become increasingly important during the COVID pandemic as people seek out greater connection with the natural world.  Integrating the Mary Ellen Imlay Channel Garden into the landscape surrounding the inspiring John Imlay Bridge also honors Mary Ellen and John Imlay’s partnership with and commitment to ABG and the cultural resource it provides for our community.



September 2021: During the summer and fall of 2021, The Imlay Foundation worked with a group of foundations to determine how we could develop a collaborative approach to address the overwhelming increase in housing instability resulting from the pandemic. Our approach focused on using philanthropic funds to build access to federal funds. We came together to identify strategies to ensure that these funds make it into the hands of eligible households to prevent unnecessary evictions.

Along with The Imlay Foundation, this group of funders includes the Cousins Foundation, the Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation, the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation, the Sartain-Lanier Family Foundation and the Tull Charitable Foundation. Collectively, these Foundations collectively provided $795,000 in grants to nonprofits working in the following capacities:

  • Capacity building grants to nonprofits partnering with local municipalities to disburse federal relief funds
  • General operating grants to nonprofits working with underserved populations that are furthest from accessing the federal rental relief funds, including organizations that are providing rental relief to families living in extended stay hotels, households that do not have a lease, and households headed by immigrants, as well as those nonprofits providing rental assistance in high need counties
  • Grants to nonprofits to support advocacy and/or provide legal representation to households facing eviction

The Imlay Foundation Board specifically approved $90,000 in grants to support current and already vetted grantees of the Foundation who are providing emergency eviction/rent relief funds directly to individuals and families who do not qualify for federal COVID emergency funds.  The following three organizations received grants of $30,000 each:

  1. Latino Community Fund
  2. Latin American Association
  3. Ser Familia


December 2019John and Mary Ellen Imlay’s connection to and love of Scotland and its people inspired The Imlay Foundation to extend its grantmaking to Scotland, where John and Mary Ellen had a home in North Berwick for more than 25 years.

The Foundation made its first grant in Scotland in 1991, and over the next nearly 30 years made 239 grants totaling more than $2.7 million to Scottish charitable organizations.  During that time, the Foundation relied on the knowledge and wisdom of two local Scottish board members to identify, visit with and develop relationships with these charities.  These two board members included the late Donald Hardie (1991 to 2015) and Michael Walker (2015-2019).

After 30 years of grantmaking, The Imlay Foundation Board of Directors made the decision to complete the Foundation’s work in Scotland at the end of 2019.  The board has been fully committed to the Foundation’s support for charitable organizations in Scotland over the last 30 years and has prioritized giving in its home base of Atlanta, the community that helped build John’s business, family and leadership, moving forward.

To honor The Imlay Foundation’s extensive grantmaking history in Scotland, the Foundation’s board of directors approved three final, significant grants in 2019 to Scottish organizations to which the Foundation has long provided support:

  • Leuchie House                                 $150,000
  • Muirfield Riding Therapy               $130,000
  • Salveson Mindroom                        $120,000


December 2018: Since 2017, The Imlay Foundation’s Board of Directors has committed to developing periodic annual learning and significant grantmaking opportunities devoted to one specific issue area outside of the Foundation’s regular grants program.  In 2018, the Board chose to focus on refugees in Metro Atlanta, recommending and approving grants totaling $205,000 to five different refugee serving organizations.

Over the course of seven months, board members participated in an orientation on refugees and Atlanta’s refugee serving community and joined site visits to seven selected refugee serving organizations across the Metro Atlanta area.  Each site visit included conversations with staff, board members and clients, and briefings on the most urgent needs and priorities of the organization.

The learning process concluded with a final follow-up meeting to discuss group impressions and solicit feedback, and the full Board of Directors ultimately approved targeted grants totaling $205,000 to five organizations at its December 4, 2018 board meeting, including:

  • Clarkston Community Center – $15,000 for general support
  • Clarkston Community Health Center – 3-Year grant of $60,000 for general support ($30,000/$20,000/$10,000)
  • Friends of Refugees – $75,000 for program and capital support for Family Literacy Program
  • Latin American Association – $30,000 for youth leadership program
  • Refuge Coffee – $25,000 for general support

Dedicated Grants to Homeless Serving Organizations

December 2017: After deciding at the first meeting of 2017 to focus this year on homelessness in Atlanta, The Imlay Foundation made grants totaling $510,000 to twelve different homeless serving organizations, nearly 20% of its standard grantmaking for the year.

The roots of this focus go back to early 2017, when the Board of Trustees of the Foundation made a commitment to develop annual learning and significant grantmaking opportunities for board members devoted to one specific focus area each year outside of the Foundation’s regular grantmaking program. The focus area chosen for 2017 was homelessness and those organizations serving this population. Based on input solicited from and offered by board members, six (6) organizations were eventually selected for deeper learning about their respective missions, programs, target clientele, leadership capacity, financial status and key current priorities.

Beginning in early March and continuing through mid-November, groups of board members visited all six organizations on this learning journey, meeting senior staff, board members and clients, drilling deeper into each organizations’ successes and challenges, and striving to understand each one’s greatest needs and priorities as they respectively move forward. In addition, board members learned about broader regional efforts to address and functionally eliminate homelessness in Metro Atlanta.

In all, over half of the board (6 board members) participated in one or more site visits to each of these organizations, including an October 9 debrief meeting at The Imlay Foundation offices on organizations visited to date and preliminary recommendations for possible funding.

Of the six homeless serving organizations visited during 2017, the Board of Trustees approved targeted grants totaling $285,000 for four of these organizations at the December 4, 2017 board meeting, including:

  • Atlanta Mission – For the purchase of two new vans for client and client family transport to jobs, healthcare appointments and childcare
  • Gateway Center For Gateway’s 2017 capital campaign
  • Mary Hall Freedom House – For the kitchen addition to the new Donna Center 24/7 emergency shelter for women and children
  • Rainbow Village – For general operating support

Beyond these four targeted grants, The Imlay Foundation made ten additional grants totaling $225,000 to homeless serving organizations through its three regular grant cycles in 2017, as follows:

  • Atlanta Mission
  • Covenant Community
  • Crossroads Community Ministries
  • The Drake House
  • Interfaith Outreach Home
  • Jerusalem House
  • Living Room
  • Mary Hall Freedom House
  • Midtown Assistance
  • Zaban Couples Shelter

Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story


March 2017: Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story, an exhibition about the career and life of famed golfer Bobby Jones, opened in the newly renovated Imlay Gallery at the Atlanta History Center on March 17, 2017, Mr. Jones’ 115th birthday. John and Mary Ellen Imlay and The Imlay Foundation were among the initial major funders of this exhibition on Bobby Jones, the only individual for whom a permanent exhibit at the Atlanta History Center is dedicated, more than 15 years ago. The Imlay Foundation is very pleased to play a key role in providing support for the current renovation and reinstallation of this tribute to one of Atlanta’s most famous sons.

While dozens of male and female athletes excelled in the “Golden Age of American Sport,” none captured the public imagination quite like Bobby Jones. For a career that launched six decades before the birth of Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones is credited with popularizing golf on an international stage. His sportsmanship called attention to the game’s best traditions, and his success and character on and off the course inspired generations to this day. Bobby Jones transcended sports during the Great Depression and became an American hero at a time when the nation most needed one. Jones is considered the greatest amateur to play the game. Between 1923 and 1930 he won 13 majors, culminating with the Grand Slam season of 1930 when he won the British Amateur, British Open, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur. Upon his retirement at age 28, Jones founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club and co-founded the Masters Tournament, and also founded Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta. Jones was also an accomplished lawyer and prominent businessman in Atlanta up until his death in 1971.

John Imlay was passionate about preserving the legacy of Bobby Jones throughout his life, and the new exhibition and gallery renovation honor John’s passion as well as the continuing impact of Bobby Jones’ life on his beloved community and the game of golf.

Dedication of the John Imlay Bridge

Atlanta botanical Garden

April 2016: THE JOHN IMLAY BRIDGE was dedicated to his memory at The Atlanta Botanical Garden on April 17, 2016. This beautiful stone bridge, located in the Storza Woods section of the Garden, is rich in meaning to John’s legacy. Several years ago John was searching for a way to leave in Scotland a lasting testament to his love for his adopted second home. His inspiration was to build classic stone bridges on four of his favorite golf courses, North Berwick, Prestwick, Troon and Carnoustie. Replacing the railroad tie bridges over the wee burns on these courses with the Imlay Bridges has created a beautiful enhancement to his beloved courses. With his team of John Murray, architect; and Steve Reynolds, great personal friend and builder; John personally carried out his mission leaving twelve Imlay Bridges across Scotland.

When The Imlay Foundation was looking for a meaningful way to honor John in Atlanta, we were excited and moved to find this beautiful bridge at the Garden just waiting for the right name. The Garden has been one of our valued partners and the Foundation was thrilled to take the naming rights of this bridge for John Imlay.

Thousands of people visiting the Garden will cross his bridge every year. Most will not know John Imlay but they will know that he was special.