The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation that was founded in 1945 by oil magnate Samuel Lloyd Noble and now boasts a $1 billion endowment. Notably, the foundation has numerous ties to and is a loyal supporter of the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank that works to undermine climate policies.
David Brown was the husband of Lloyd Noble’s daughter Ann Noble Brown and served as a board member of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation until his death in March 2022.
David Brown, was also the former chair of the Heritage Foundation. Brown joined the Heritage Foundation’s board in 1978 and was elected chairman in 1992. After his retirement in 2009, Brown was elected chairman emeritus, a title he held until his passing. Brown also served as board chair of the conservative think tank the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, which he co-founded in 1993. OCPA is a member of the State Policy Network, “which Brown supported from its earliest days.” The State Policy Network is a network of over one hundred right-wing advocacy organizations, think tanks, and funding groups seeking to influence policy at the state level.
Heckman has been a trustee of the Heritage Foundation since 2016 and has extensive ties to Heritage through her family.
Heckman is a manager at the Atlanta-based commercial real estate company Noble Properties, Inc. She also serves as president of the Lloyd and Vivian Noble Foundation.
James Day is a longtime executive of Noble Corporation and a director of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Day was recognized as the “top performing CEO in the oil service and equipment sector by Institutional Investor magazine for 2004, 2003 and 2002.” He currently serves as a director of EOG Resources Inc., a natural gas and crude oil company.
Day spent the majority of his career working for the Noble Corporation, serving as executive vice president from 1983 to 1984, CEO from 1984 to 2007, and as president twice from 1984 to 1999 and 2003 to 2006. During this time, Day was a member of Noble Corporation’s board, and served as chairman from 1992 to 2007. He was also a member of Noble Energy’s board of directors from 1994 to 2000 and 2001 to 2004. Day served as a board member of the Noble Research Institute from 2016 to 2017.
Day has been heavily involved with oil industry groups and fossil fuel companies, having served as a board member at:
Day is also the former president of the Petroleum Club of Houston and a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Vivian Noble DuBose is the granddaughter of Lloyd Noble and the daughter of Heritage Foundation founder Ed Noble. Vivian DuBose’s husband, Sam DuBose, is an advisory director of the Noble Foundation.
Cody Noble is the great-grandson of Lloyd Noble and a director of the Noble Foundation.
Russell “Rusty” Noble is the grandson of Lloyd Noble and a director of the Noble Foundation.
Marianne Rooney is the granddaughter of Lloyd Noble and a director of the Noble Foundation. Her husband, Patrick Rooney, is an advisor director at the foundation.
Jessie Nance is the great-granddaughter of Lloyd Noble and a director of the Noble Foundation.
Jo Kate Parker is the great-granddaughter of Lloyd Noble and an advisory director of the Noble Foundation.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and members of the Noble family are closely tied to the Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest conservative think tanks in the U.S.
Ed Noble, the son of Lloyd Noble, was one of the original three founders of the Heritage Foundation. Ed Noble served on the Noble Foundation’s board of trustees from 1951 to 2003, “helping direct the organization’s activities for more than half a century.”
Virginia Heckman, Ed Noble’s granddaughter, is a trustee of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and has been a Heritage Foundation trustee since 2016. Heckman’s parents, Vivian and Samuel DuBose, are long-time Heritage supporters, and her granduncle, David Brown, served as chairman of Heritage’s board from 1992 to 2008.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has maintained a close financial relationship with Lloyd Noble’s oil and natural gas companies and owns millions of dollars worth of fossil fuel corporate stocks.
According to the Noble Foundation’s 2020 IRS form 990, the foundation owned at least $11.7 million worth of fossil fuel corporate stocks and bonds, including investments in Phillips 66 ($1.5 million), ConocoPhillips ($1.1 million), and Cabot Oil & Gas ($732,600). In 2020, the Noble Foundation also owned Chevron stocks valued at $413,129. Chevron acquired Noble Energy in October of that year.
The Noble Foundation is also tied to the oil and gas industry through its leadership.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has been a staple funding source for conservative think tanks, namely the Heritage Foundation, since the 1970s. According to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the Noble Foundation was one of the top funders of conservative policy groups between 1999 and 2001, giving over $4.4 million to such organizations during that period.
Lloyd Noble used his profits from the oil industry to fund the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, which has continued to benefit from the fossil fuel industry ever since. The foundation, which holds millions of dollars in investments in fossil fuel companies, has also been a major financial backer of organizations working to undermine environmental and climate policies.
According to a 2013 analysis by Drexel University researchers, the Noble Foundation gave $6.7 million to organizations in the counter-climate movement between 2004 and 2008. These grants include $5 million to the Heritage Foundation, $1.25 million to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, $350,000 to the Southeastern Legal Foundation, $60,000 to the Capital Research Center, and $30,000 to National Center for Policy Analysis.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has been a primary financial backer of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation since its inception. Environmental and climate policy groups such as Greenpeace and The Carbon Tax Center have characterized Heritage as a leading purveyor of climate change denial. Heritage staunchly opposes environmental regulations that would affect big businesses, going so far as to say that life-saving policies such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act “infringe on private property rights, and confound the dynamics of a free market.”
The Noble Foundation was one of the Heritage Foundation’s earliest supporters, and it remains a major funding source for the think tank. Heritage received $800,000 from the Noble Foundation between 2019 and 2020.
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a free-market think tank founded in 1993 by Lloyd Noble’s son-in-law, David Brown. The group primarily focuses on state-level issues in Oklahoma, particularly policies about the economy and education.
Brown and OCPA’s other founders were inspired by the Heritage Foundation, as they “envisioned an organization that was capable of affecting the state’s public policy similar to national level think tanks.” OCPA runs a legislative scorecard project ranking state legislators based on their support for limited government policies, much like the congressional scorecard project run by Heritage’s 501(c)(4) affiliate.
OCPA is a member of the State Policy Network, a network of over one hundred right-wing advocacy organizations, think tanks, and funding groups seeking to influence policy at the state level.
The Capital Research Center is a conservative think tank that has been characterized as an organization that “tries to discourage corporations from giving charitable donations to nonprofits that support liberal or anti-business policies.” CRC’s main project is InfluenceWatch, a website that has been described as an “Encyclopedia of the Left.” Influential conservative group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Heartland Institute are also collaborators on the project.
CRC has fought to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change, saying there is “no basis” for the claim that 97% of scientists believe in climate change.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation is a conservative public interest law firm “challenging government regulations and tax policies in Georgia and the South.” SLF’s president said the organization’s primary issues are “property rights, affirmative action, tax issues, and individual rights.” SLF has mounted legal challenges against environmental policies, including a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to overturn the agency’s regulatory power over carbon dioxide emissions.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has been a consistent funder of SLF over the years. Conservative Transparency reports that the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation gave $775,000 to the Southeastern Legal Foundation between 1998 and 2008. The Noble Foundation gave SLF $30,000 in 2020, $50,000 in 2019, $20,000 in 2017, and $25,000 in 2015.
Corporate funders of SLF have included “an assortment of oil, chemical, banking, and construction companies.”
The Noble Foundation has funded groups advocating for “school choice,” a concept that originally developed as a reactionary effort to enshrine racial segregation and abolish public schools. Many studies have found that states that pass school choice legislation see a degradation in the public school systems. According to a 2022 report covered by the Washington Post, “more than half of states with vouchers have at least one program that pays out more than 50 percent of what would have been spent to educate the child in a public school.” In New Hampshire, for example, the public school system lost more than $8 million in a matter of months after the state instituted an education savings account program to funnel public funding to students’ private education.
According to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation was one of the top ten foundation funders of school privatization advocacy organizations in 2005. The foundation gave over $1.6 million to groups supporting school vouchers or tax credits in 2005, including $1 million to the Heritage Foundation, $600,000 to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and $15,000 to the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. The Noble Foundation has continued to distribute grants to these groups.
The Noble Foundation also regularly provides grants to the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which filed a lawsuit in 1994 to enforce Georgia’s tuition voucher law; the suit was ultimately dismissed. In addition to its efforts to undermine public schools, SLF released a report in May 2022 railing against “critical race theory,” telling parents, “you are correct to recoil from ‘equity’ and ‘anti-racism.’ They are deeply destructive and controversial ideas, the very opposite of equality.”
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation gave Donors Trust a large grant of $500,000 in 2010, earmarked as “support for the economic freedom fund.” Known as the “dark-money ATM of the right,” Donors Trust backs the most influential groups in the conservative movement.